Tuesday 4 October 2016
As a family we did not number doctors, dentists, bank managers or similar worthies in our circle. No one in the immediate family had been to university. But my father was a naval officer, and while Mum’s father had started out as a travelling salesman, he ended up with his own canning factory and a small country estate in North Yorkshire. (Jeremy Paxman)
Middle class values include loving privacy and self determination then criticising working class communities for not being communal enough. (Matthew Whitfield @mwhitfield80)
Residents of Kensington Palace Gardens feared being swamped by “the masses” if their street joined a cycling network, newly released letters reveal. Transport for London’s plans for a “Quietway” through one of the capital’s most expensive roads were shelved last month after residents complained that it would ruin their “tranquillity” and pose security risks. (Evening Standard)
If the requirement was [for schools] to take 80% disadvantaged, middle-class parents would avoid because what is most desired is social selection. (Ros McMullen @RosMcM)
Doesn't 'toff' translate as 'someone who sounds posher than me'? (And the unmentionable 'p' word as 'someone who sounds more common than me'?) (AG)
She learned about being nice in her two years at college... Her fellow students were “the nicest and most reasonable individuals I had ever met... That’s what being middle-class-in-the-world is about. Darkness is managed or hidden.” “It's about being sensible... You can’t let yourself go... except when you do.” (Carolyn Steedman reviews Respectable by Lynsey Hanley in the LRB 2016)
A parlourmaid giving evidence to the government inquiry (into the “servant crisis” in the 20s) explained that she had suffered ‘untold misery’ because invitations to parties warned her not to admit what she did for a living. Her friends didn’t want their friends to ‘mix with servants’. (She left Belvoir Castle and went to work for Agatha Christie, who was very fond of her. LRB July 2016. Christie herself sometimes joked that if the writing didn't pan out she could always get a job as a parlourmaid.)
Leadsom deciding to spend more time with her National Trust oven gloves. (FB)
The publication had been a home for people who valued culinary expertise, wrote Kimball—a place with “respect for those who had earned the chops, as it were, who had a lifetime of good breeding and experience in order to stand at the cultural helm.” (Cooks Illustrated on the demise of Gourmet magazine)
It is well known that height is correlated with economic power. (LRB May 2016)
When I joined The Bookseller, I'd be asked 'which college' I went to. Took a while before realised it was Oxbridge college. (Danuta Kean @Danoosha)
British middle-class Hell is a permanent signal failure, with the stalled train's passengers tutting quietly at the futility of it all. (Musa Okwonga @Okwonga)
It never occurred to me to think I wasn’t a gentleman until Lady Burghclere pointed it out. (Evelyn Waugh)
Interview with Viscount Linley, Times June 2016-06-05
I ask what TV he watched growing up.
“There wasn’t any.”
“My father put tinfoil over the front of it.”
So it looked like a jacket potato?
“So it mirrored our image. He said, ‘Now you can see how idiotic you look.’”
That’s so wonderfully snobby. Were you allowed tomato ketchup?
More here, and links to the rest.
Sunday 2 October 2016
|Poor little mites|
Middle classes of all stripes despise babies’ dummies.
If children are “resilient” we can be as cruel as we like to them and it won’t matter. And there's always some reason why we should be cruel to them:
Thomas Mann justified spoiling his eldest child over his 5 others with the line, "One should get the children used to injustice early." (AdamNathanielFurman @Furmadamadam)
The Fortean Times ran a piece on the abusive way the Greeks and Romans raised their children. Someone commented: “No wonder the Romans were cold, callous, sexually precocious and impulsive.” (Paraphrase.)
Middle class parents have a strange impulse to teach very very small children “how to grow their own crops” (and try unfamiliar foods, know where food comes from, eat with a knife and fork, manage risk, say please and thank you, understand money, and generally behave like a middle-aged adult). They really do wring their hands over the fact that “children today don’t know where food comes from”. It comes from the supermarket, you noodle. But they have to reinvent children + food x angst = guilt every few months so that they can keep ahead of the other parents. Turning up at parties with boxes of unsweetened vegan food which are all that poor little Milo is allowed to eat is sooooo five minutes ago.
David Cameron said we need “tiger mothers” to encourage children to study, and “character” modules to teach children “resilience” and “perseverance”.
Letter to Times Jan 2016-01-14
Sir, Whatever happened to having supportive parents? Mine were supportive and encouraging, and I seemed to turn out all right. Tiger parenting does not help children as adults: it usually results in low self-esteem, failure to cope when life doesn’t go right and an inability to be independent. What happens when children fail to meet David Cameron’s “high expectations”? Tiger parenting is a short-term solution to the long-term raising of a child. Bronwyn Molony, Dublin
Even during the holidays I saw very little of them: They would be in another part of the house while I would stay upstairs... My mother hardly ever came to my attic floor, but I could hear her running her bath... my world was the staff. They were my only friends. (Redeeming Features, Nicky Haslam on his “privileged” childhood in a stately home)
As a new biography of Evelyn Waugh is published (Philip Eade, Evelyn Waugh: A Life Revisited), a former Times theatre critic tells the story of the novelist’s first wife, his mother, Evelyn Nightingale (Times June 2016)
Her troubles began with her birth in Charles Street, Mayfair, in 1903, since she was meant to be a boy and heir to a new title in danger of becoming extinct... She was the last of four daughters.
As she always said, it was a different era with different ideas about upbringing, yet seldom can a girl have been so neglected. Evelyn never went to school but was semi-educated by a series of mostly German governesses, one of whom, she recalled, stuck pins in her arms if she rested them on the table. And she seldom saw her father, who died when she was 17, remembering a benignly aloof figure...
But then she was kept away from him by a mother she found terrifying. “One could never explain one’s presumed misdemeanours because the words froze in one’s mouth or didn’t get as far as freezing,” she wrote in an informal memoir many years later, adding that Lady Winifred never came into the nursery or schoolroom. “There were no goodnights, loving or otherwise, or prayers being heard at bedtime.”
Her greatest friends, she wrote, were the servants, who were “kindly and understanding”, though she was forbidden to play with their children. And her greatest love was for her nanny, a tiny, gentle woman who was sacked when Evelyn was seven...
[In her own words:] I felt “as it were in a cage with no knowledge of the world or the real behaviour of others.”
[She became a Bright Young Thing – no wonder they were so aimless and self-destructive and amoral. After her two divorces, her sister cut her off almost entirely.]
The four Johnson children mostly just had each other. They read constantly. Rachel can’t remember any playdates. It sounds as if the parenting regime was one of benign neglect, which is perhaps why all the Johnsons so crave attention now. “Our parents provided us with the essentials, then got on with their own lives,” is how she puts it. (Times on Rachel Johnson, June 2015)
Middle class neglect is always called “benign neglect”. There’s nothing benign about it.
It’s a Tory trope at the moment that children must be taught to “take responsibility”, otherwise they’ll grow up to be “victims”. Apparently there are no perpetrators, only people who think they are victims, when actually their plight is ENTIRELY their own fault. (If this is true, why aren’t assault victims prosecuted and sent to jail, while their attackers go free? And when someone breaks into your house and steals your stuff, why don’t you just turn yourself in?)