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.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

What to Say...

Gustave Flaubert collected the witterings of the bourgeoisie into a book called A Dictionary of Received Ideas (it was published after his death). He subtitled it "What to say in order to be accepted as a member of polite society". Like him, I have collected the sayings of the top people and turned them into mini ebooks. First How to Talk Posh (or how the posh talk):

And now Clichés: A Dictionary of Received Ideas:

It's a mine of misinformation, and tells you What to Say About practically any topic, or What to Say When almost anything occurs.

Here's a sample:

Bagpipes: exist only in Scotland.
Cards: Each king in a deck of playing cards represents a great leader from history.
Center Parcs: Each park is enclosed in a giant, transparent weather-proof dome.
Dr Who: His new companion is always a feisty modern girl for our times, unlike Jo, Sarah Jane, Ace etc.
Facebook: Interactions are shallow because they're only a lot of noughts and ones.
Germs: Encouraged to breed by sudden changes in the weather.
Humanists: Worship Man.
Jokes: There are only eight jokes.
Mona Lisa: The one in the Louvre is a copy.