Tuesday 7 August 2012
Class and the Olympics
Upper-class Stow-Crats go in for eventing and dressage, sailing, sculling, badminton, rowing, canoeing, clay pigeon shooting, fencing and archery. They clap politely at sporting events, as do Upwards and Weybridges. These groups all eat picnics they have brought themselves.
Upper-middle Upwards play tennis and run marathons, but they never, ever become Olympic athletes – they don’t know how. They wouldn’t know where to find the canoe club. Or if they did, they wouldn’t let their children join because the other members might be common. They talked about escaping the Olympic “madness” and “craziness”, but then they got drawn into it. However, they’re outraged by how noisy sporting events are – everybody shouts all the time, and there’s loud disco music.
Middle-middle Weybridges are into tennis, golf and sailing. If they live in the provinces, they put their children in for music competitions and ballet exams. When the kids grow up, they go to salsa classes to meet people. Weybridges love Wimbledon, but they think women tennis players who shriek when they serve should be banned.
Lower-middle Teales become Olympic athletes. They are far-sighted and do their research. When they find out what's required (ten years of getting up at dawn to swim laps), they are hard-working and dedicated. They support family members who want to train as rowers. They clap and occasionally shout at sporting events – they also wave flags, wear wigs and dress up.
Working-class Definitely sports are running, boxing, judo, aikido, taekwondo, wrestling and gymnastics. At sporting events, they yell, scream, jump up and down, paint their faces in the national colours, wave misspelled home-made banners, drink beer, and eat fast food.
Like wars, massive sporting events force the classes to mix. And then they all have rather a good time. They may even find they like each other.