Sunday 15 April 2012

Class and the Telly

Middle class people want fame and fortune, but they also want respectability, and that severely limits the [TV] shows they're willing to go on. (Friend RK writes)

Upper middle-class Upwards accepted television in this order: no TV, black and white, colour, set in a separate room (possibly called a twee name like “the snug”), set in the living room. (Then there were the "only BBC2, no ITV" variations.) They’re not yet ready for the Definitelies' wide-screen plasma, or the Nouveau-Richards' vast wall-filling flat-screen disguised by a picture that slides away at the touch of a button. They couldn’t possibly have anything in their house that rose, sank, opened or closed at the touch of a button. Samantha Upward is so glad those awful dimmer switches have gone out.

Upwards pretend not to understand Freeview, and despise cable. Only one person in the family knows how to turn the telly on. In the days of video, they never worked out how to set the timer, or the clock. (But they’ve all got iPads and smartphones.) You can sit on a sofa to watch their telly, but it’s never big or comfortable enough.

The Upwards and the middle-class Weybridges never got round to having a second set in the kitchen and whinge endlessly about their husbands hogging the remote and watching sport when they want to watch costume dramas. The Nouveau-Richards have cable piped to every room and everyone has their own telly they can watch their own choice on.

The Weybridges used to keep the Radio Times in a leathercraft cover, or an arts and crafts magazine rack. Their telly lived in a teak effect cabinet with doors that closed. They now buy an entire teak effect unit with slots for hifi and CDs – there are still doors that close over the telly. And I’m sure you can get one in antique repro style to match the rest of the furniture.

Posh Caro Stow-Crat puts her telly on an antique piece of furniture to one side of the fireplace so it doesn’t disturb her sofa arrangement (her sofas are arranged in a hollow square with the fireplace as the fourth side).

Some Upward professors still call it “the tele-vizzeeeon” or complain that the word is a Greek/Latin hybrid.