Tuesday 6 June 2017

The Teales: Update

Miles and Juliet lived in a neat circumscribed executive estate in Pangbourne and did everything right. They bought every possession (including the right opinions) that the young executive should have and their lives were organised with a degree of foresight that made the average Soviet Five-Year-Plan look impetuous. (Star Trap
, Simon Brett)

The lower-middle class Teales, Jen and Bryan, and their children Christine and Wayne, are admirable. They join Rotary, raise money for charity, and become aldermen. They are hard-working, sensible and organised. They are also conscientious, kind and polite, though they can be scrupulous and judgemental. Teale respectability may be a relic of the Low Protestant sects their grandparents grew up in. The attitudes lived on while the chapels were converted into flats.

There used to be some Teales who would never discuss other people in any way. It made talking to them quite difficult. Was it  Protestantism forbidding “all uncharitableness”? Jen always knows when to stop talking for the two minutes silence, and when the clocks go back/forward. Poor Samantha Upward is always being caught out, and frowned on.

Jen retrained as an aromatherapist when the children became "adults". Christine is a wedding planner, Wayne a cosmetic surgeon. (Downmarket Sharon Definitely runs a nail bar.) Aromatherapy fell out of fashion, and Jen now helps Christine with her wedding business, thinking up elaborate, “unique” and expensive additions for your “special day”.

The early 60s were so Teale! They smelled of face powder, Yardley lipstick and lavender. Then it all went wrong and we were forced to whiff of patchouli and avoid ironing our clothes. Thank goodness the 70s brought the Teales back: American tan tights, A-line mini skirts, man-made fibres. Long hair parted in the middle became a symbol of conformity rather than rebellion as long as it was “healthy and shining” and went with over-plucked eyebrows, highlighter on the brow bone and a vapid smile.

Jen folds letters very neatly, lining up the edges and pressing down the folds. When her colleague Sam makes a mess of something she says: “I got carried away!” Teales, especially co-workers, take the Upward “scatty act” at face value, and are very disapproving.

But even Teales have their dark side. When not holidaying at nudist camps, they join suburban covens. And Geoffrey Crossick has written a book all about them.

Picture by Versluys and Uittenbroek.

More here.

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