Monday, 13 October 2014

Classy Careers (and Money)

The wicker workshop was a great success
“I’ve made an almost vulgar amount of money.” James Braxton, Antiques Road Trip

The Antiques Roadshow “clumsily punctuates [the personal and historical] narrative with a judgment of exchange value”. ( archaeology blog)

Hire-purchase rules were relaxed after the war – middle-class Upwards were furious. Here were common people getting what they wanted now (probably over-shiny furniture), instead of employing “deferred gratification” – something they are still very fond of. Access ("Takes the waiting out of wanting!") was one of the first widely available credit cards in the early 70s. The middle classes had another hissy fit. American Express, Diners Club and Barclaycard were different because they were exclusive.

Upwards and Weybridges used to be very shocked if you bought anything in a corner shop: “It’s so much more expensive than the supermarket!” And of course you can only buy chav food like Heinz salad cream and tinned steamed pudding. But it’s in walking distance, and I haven’t got a car, in fact I can’t drive, and I don’t need to do a huge weekly shop because I don’t have a husband and family... (“You haven’t got a car!!!” I think they stop talking to me at this point. Happy thought: filch a lot of Waitrose bags to carry the corner shop food. Or invite them to dinner and serve up spam fritters and spaghetti hoops.)

Is “artisanal” the new exclusive?

Latest middle-class careers: hand-make bespoke ordinary things like leather satchels, bicycles or fountain pens. I’m not sure how you’ll get organic materials into a bicycle – wooden pedals? Wicker basket? Hessian panniers? Is there a basket shop in East London called “The Wicker Man” yet?

Why don’t middle-class people open internet cafes? For the same reason that they can’t learn to tap dance, act in musicals, or become estate agents.

Is the educational end-game that all children should aspire to pass exams, go to uni and get a white-collar job? Who’s going to do the blue-collar jobs? We need bus drivers, firemen, shop staff...

An Upward wrote in to the Guardian complaining that if schoolkids don’t learn French they’ll “have no knowledge of other cultures”. Reminds me of getting an Arts Council grant: with breathtaking culturecentrism, the form required us to promise we would “contact other cultures”. But Upwards can always send their children to an inner-city primary school - they'll contact many other cultures. Some of the pupils may even be French.

More careers here.
More money here.

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