Sunday, 28 July 2013

Quotes About Class (and Kirstie Allsop)

Labour MP @SimonDanczuk, humiliated by @OwenJones84 on BBC2, yelled "It's alright for you, you come from the posh part of Stockport!" (‏@mrmarksteel, 2 July 2013)

I was astonished to find that it was possible to spend your life surrounded by great literature and remain (or become) paralysed by snobbery. (Julian Barnes, Guardian, July 2013)

A London of struggling writers "living in a middle-class style on a working-class income”. (John Goode on writer George Gissing)

Cashed-up bogans... It is a term my middle-class tribe uses disparagingly to make us feel better about being educated, but comparatively poor. I am not the first privately educated university graduate who wishes she had done a truck-driving course instead. (BBC on Australian chavs 2013-02-24)

Nothing is more bourgeois than to be afraid to look bourgeois. (Andy Warhol)

The journey was mind-numbingly tedious: a sequence of Ms and As with various numbers attached, interspersed with service stations that appeared to be patronised solely by people who had recently been released from prison. Where were the middle classes? There's a gap in the market – I'm sure a service station that incorporated a contemporary art gallery and a sushi restaurant would be a huge success. I'd go there. The Age of Uncertainty

The old class stratifications have gone – it’s much more nuanced now, says the BBC 2013-04-03 commenting on its new survey. (People have said this every year for the past 30 years.)

In girls’ school stories by Angela Brazil and Enid Blyton (they flourished from the 1900s to the 50s), girls allegedly expressed approval with the phrase “Oh, jolly hockey sticks!”. NGram Viewer shows that it appears in the mid-60s and rises sharply to the present. says it was invented in the 50s by Beryl Reid for her radio character, the schoolgirl Monica.

It has become What To Say About TV property expert Kirstie Allsop, who went to the progressive and non-hockey-playing Bedales school.

As always with Kirstie, it's all very jolly hockey sticks. She's an Enid Blyton head girl on a mission and she's starting with the hall… She's right, it is much more satisfying to pick up a vintage one-off or to make something yourself than it is waiting for your ticket number to come up at Argos. And you'll never run the risk as having the same curtains as Maureen down the road. But while all of this is very nice, does anyone in their right mind really have the time to design their own stained glass window, weld their own bookends or crochet a five-sided gift box "perfect for chocolate, soaps or even a plant”? (

Jolly hockeysticks? That's all Nancy Mitford, Kirstie Allsop, "Ooh rah, time for games!" isn't it? (Facebook) (Nancy Mitford never wrote school stories.)

Kirstie is terribly jolly hockeysticks. (

Kirstie used to seem naive, jolly hockeysticks, flirtatious. (mumsnet)

Kirstie’s jolly hockeysticks persona is a bit unusual in TV these days but I think she carries it off. I like crafts but I find her craft shows a bit too twee. (mumsnet)

The world presented in the movie is a kind of jolly-hockeysticks rural idyll where kids can run around the countryside all day unimpeded and the locals are eccentric yokels. The threats to this way of life come from city-dwelling interlopers and the loss of good manners. (Review on of a Nanny McPhee film. “Running around the countryside” does not involve hockeysticks.) has a category of “jolly hockeysticks books”.

More classy quotes here, and links to the rest.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Yesterday's Papers

The upper middle-class Upwards whinge when all the press gives huge coverage to events like Wimbledon, assuming that everybody in the country likes the same things. Upwards are always trying to assert their difference from the rest of the country, and they have never really got over the introduction of 24-hour news (about 25 years ago).

They adored the royal baby watch, using the word “fawning” in every sentence and grumbling about BBC flannel. Upper-class Caro sheds a tear and pours herself a gin and tonic, middle-class Eileen Weybridge and Jen Teale share a baby watch party and love every moment. Working-class Sharon goes to Kensington Palace and leaves a cuddly toy and a card.

Journalists, Upwards and Weybridges agree, get everything wrong, write sloppily and are despicable human beings. This doesn’t stop all Upward graduates trying to get a job in the media. And if you are a journalist, people assume you write for one of the broadsheets (not for one of the hundreds of magazines that still exist despite the web – 3.7m sold every day, says, and spend all your time meeting celebrities and going on free trips abroad. (So when do you fit in door-stepping the bereaved, stalking the royals and rehashing press releases?)

Whenever snow is predicted, the middle classes will panic because they think everybody is going to panic – or even whinge. And they’ll go on about it too much. (Translation: the BBC will try to be prepared and tell us about it in advance.)

Upwards and Weybridges spend a lot of time moaning that newspapers and news programmes are full of stuff they aren’t interested in. They like to say:

Newspapers? All opinion or trivia. Haven’t contained any news since the Anglo Saxon Chronicle. Are full of ads which will hypnotise you into buying things you don’t want. Are full of porn. If a newspaper writes about anything you know about, you’ll find it’s got the facts wrong. Only need to capture the attention for a day. Ephemeral. Yesterday’s papers wrap today’s chips. Print media is dead!

This is a quote from my mini ebook Clichés: A Dictionary of Received Ideas ("Everything you need to know in order to be accepted as a member of polite society" Flaubert) A paperback version is now available.

More clichés here.