|Are you one of those weathergirls?|
My daughter sounds uneducated because she says ‘like’ so much. (writer-in to Mariella Frostrup in the Obs, Sept 14. The girl is living abroad at the moment, but the writer wonders what will happen to her when she returns to the "real world".)
She had decided tastes and a long list of hates. These included: the sort of woman who wants to join a gentlemen’s club; the bits of paper that fall out of magazines; female weather forecasters; visitors to Chatsworth who complained that the countryside was ‘dirty’; the words ‘environment’, ‘conservation’ and ‘leisure’; supercilious assistants at make-up counters; dietary fads; skimmed milk; girls with slouching shoulders and Tony Blair. (Daily Mail obit of the Duchess of Devonshire)
I received little praise if things went well. I remember once saying this to her ladyship. ‘What do you expect me to do, Lee, keep patting you on the back?’ Given an answer like that I never laid myself open again. (If Walls Could Talk: An Intimate History of the Home by Lucy Worsley, quoting from a butler’s memoirs)
A character in Dickens’ Barnaby Rudge says he has “risen from nothing” – he means his father was a butcher.
We were professional people; the other people who lived in our street were not and they were not asked to the party. Most of them were better off than we were but I was the only man who owned a dinner-jacket. Nora would have been shocked if I had suggested that she was a snob. She explained her attitude carefully. “It isn’t a matter of social standing, Tom. I haven’t anything in common with them.” (Change Here For Babylon, Nina Bawden)
She liked listening to the light programme and reading the popular women’s magazines – I would find them carefully hidden under the sofa cushions—and she was ashamed of these things. (Change Here For Babylon, Nina Bawden)
They were tremendous houses in Adelaide Crescent; they started off with a basement and went right up to an attic, there were 132 stairs in all, and the basements were dark and like dungeons. The front of the basement, with iron bars all down the bay windows, was the servants’ hall... We were ushered into a hall that I thought was the last word in opulence. There was a lovely carpet on the floor, and tremendously wide stairs carpeted right across, not like the tiny little bit of lino in the middle we had on our stairs. There was a great mahogany table in the hall and a mahogany hallstand, and huge mirrors with gilt frames. The whole thing breathed an aura of wealth to me. I thought they must be millionaires. (Below Stairs, Margaret Powell)
There are some very regrettable people come settling round here lately—people one can't dream of knowing. It's a great pity. (Non-combatants and Others, Rose Macaulay)
Clare Balding has written several books about her upper-crust, horsey family. The Times interviewed her. Hers is the traditional dysfunctional English family – where stinginess is championed and scorn a form of tenderness. Her father is “pouring sherry into his Cup a Soup while muttering disparagingly about people who drink at lunchtime”. Her brother Andrew is cast as the family idiot and gently bullied throughout.
When Balding introduces a new pet to her mother:
“A white dog? Good Lord, how London can you get?"
My mother is a firm believer in: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing,” Balding tells me. "She’s very 'stuff and nonsense. Crack on. Are you bleeding? No. Go on with you then. Are you concussed? No, you’re still talking. Crack on.'
Her mother agreed to join her on a radio ramble. Balding was thrilled, but didn’t let on:
That would be too close to being emotional or even “soppy”. And she might think I am going to give her a hug or something awful.
(Times September 2014-09-06)
Oh it is hard you will agree
To know your place in Britain's meritocracy
It's most important you should know
The people who're above you and the ones below
If Parliament's where you would be
Be sure you come from Oxford with a good degree
For then you may in your accent smooth
Persuade the shiftless workers to the polling booth
A redbrick university
Puts you on the lower branches of the tree
And even there you'll have a ball
Scorning those who never reach the tree at all
Lawyers, doctors, dentists pass
Their examination to the middle class
Especially if they just scraped through
I'll give you ten to one that they'll look down on you
If proper status you would win
Be sure to hang your curtains with the right side in
No one's below you, fancy that
Then your only consolation is to kick the cat
(Kick The Cat, by The Spinners)
When a middle-class man moved to Bruton in the West Country: "I was slightly traumatised. You couldn't get a decent coffee, a Bloody Mary or decent bread." (Times 2014-08-04)
Like many cities at that time, it was rigidly class-structured, with each class having its own way of life, diet and types of eating-house. (Amazon review of The Victorian City. Is it different now?)
The film is redolent of the class-consciousness characteristic of that period – there is little no possibility of anyone wanting to improve themselves. (Amazon reviewer of In Which We Serve uses “class-consciousness” to mean “once a villein, always a villein”, hinting that now we are modern and enlightened, we expect people to try and move up the class ladder. Who is happier, though? The working classes cosy in their tiny terrace house, the lower middles bickering in the parlour, or the toffs hiding their feelings over the tea table? They have more space, but it seems to have pushed them further apart emotionally.)
With funds channelled into private schooling and little to spare, we hovered between austerity and middle-class privilege. (Emma J Page, Times 2014-08-02 Oh, we did!)
More here, and links to the rest.
And more here.