Paula's Place

Paula's Place

Friday, 16 January 2015

Not one of the 10%

Carrying on from where I was yesterday, I suppose that there is always a question around class, what it is and how we recognise it.   I don't know if we British are any more class aware than other nations, I don't know other nations well enough, but the republican, egalitarian French certainly seem to me to be very class conscious, and the revolutionary Americans also seem to spend a lot of time and effort considering class.

Some will define class by cash value, yet this seems to me to be incomplete, we can all think of the vulgar self made millionaire who no matter how much money they have will always be working class, as we can also think of a member of the nobility who has faced (relative) poverty.   I suspect that somewhere along the line it is a combination of occupation, monetary value, education and parentage.   My Mother always considered herself to be middle class, both her grandfathers were substantial members of Oxford's commercial elite, she had a private education and as a teacher was a member of a profession, on the other hand my father left school at 14 was an NCO during the Second World War and worked his way up the greasy pole of the motor industry.   Although at the end of the day his income was greater than my Mother's he always considered himself to be working class, remembering that he had been brought up around the pre war Elephant and Castle and that his father was an employed butcher.

Like my brothers I went to Grammar School and expected a career in one of the civil service, banking, insurance or the like.   I expected to live in a nice house in a nice suburb with a nice wife and two nice children.   I expected to come home from the office, spend a little time pottering around my nice garden before sitting down to a nice dinner cooked by my wife.   This does not make me a bad person, it is simply the way we were brought up in the sixties and early seventies.   The books we read, the TV we watched and the families we saw around us all fed these expectations.

Even though I knew that I didn't quite fit with all of this, alternatives were not presented so I hoped that everyone else was right and that I would grow out of that phase and settle down, yes I expected to be part of the 10% most boring people in the world.

I now know that I will never quite fit, as a self employed tradesperson I suspect that I have lost my middle class credentials, and as a trans woman I have definitely lost out on my male privilege, my age does put me in the 33% and my ancestry does put me in the 87%, as for the rest well I suspect that I fall into a very small percentage now.   But life is never boring!
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