Sunday, April 13, 2008

Class claims

The Vol-in-Law has had a high school friend visiting him this week. This friend is working class. His claim to working class status stem primarily from the fact that his father is working class in the traditional sense. That is, he works in a skilled, manual trade.

Now, while this friend was here - my husband tried to convince him that we weren't as solidly middle class as we appear. I didn't think that was particularly fair on me, as I believe that I am firmly of the middle class* - and of the professional/academic variety at that. My family has enough diplomas and certificates to wall paper a small north-facing wall of a bijou pied-a-terre. I'm not sure why the Vol-in-Law found it necessary to do this, but perhaps it's one of those weird British affectations all mixed in with some kind reverse snobbery. At any rate, the ViL swore blind that we weren't nearly as middle class as some of our acquaintances. This proof by comparison is a fairly weak one in my book and the working class fellow wasn't buying it at all.

"Yer the most middle class people I know," he declared in his thick Ulster brogue.
"That may very well be the case, but that doesn't mean we're like the middle class of London" said I.

But certainly, it must appear that way. The ViL is a lecturer and I have an ill-defined job snuffling at the public trough. We serve some kind of exotic vegetables at nearly every meal (roasted fennel again or shall we have crushed celeriac?). We have art on the wall and ninety percent of the food we try to feed our baby is organic and made in France.

But the friend's working class claims are muddy, too. My husband's working class friend, for a long time, did not have a job. He claimed benefits. Under New Labour terminology this underscores his working-class-ness, though why this should be I don't know. I would tend to put that kind of behaviour in the scrounger category. To be fair, this fellow is from a working class, Protestant area of Belfast and in the past jobs weren't so easy to find. On the other hand, this fellow has a degree and I reckon that the reason he was forced into working a normal (low-skilled manual labor) job was because he earned too much money to claim benefits anymore. And the source of this income? Selling hobbyist books that he wrote and illustrated. Yes, that's right, the scrounger was kicked off benefits because he was simply too successful as a man of letters. So exactly how working class is that?

But really, the whole discussion leaves me baffled. So the best course of action is to turn to a reliable source - The Telegraph - for a quiz that will settle the score.

And how did I score? Well, I was - as I expected - on the cusp between two categories. I'll let you guess which.

*When I declared this, the ViL said "Yes, in Lawrenceburg."

UPDATE: The quiz I included was for British- Americans may like to try these quizzes. The home decor one certainly got to who I really am (and it's a bit lower than I came out on the Brit quiz).


jen said...

surely the only question that needs answering to determine which class you belong to is: what newspaper do you read?


Nicole said...


I'm "uneasily middle-class."

And I read the Guardian. . .

"John Galt" said...

In the last London hotel in which I stayed, I had to pay extra to have The Telegraph at my door each morning. The Guardian would have been free.

Anonymous said...

I'll have you know VIL that, in Lawrenceburg, we are solidly Upper Class. We graduated from college and we have more books in the house than the Bible and the World Book Encyclopedias. We also know where to find the middle east on a map and have been outside the United States. We don't even have a gun (unless you count the BB gun Vol-Bro gave to Bill one Christmas) or a truck (since Will took it back). Don't drag my daughter down to middle class level or lower. Just remember, you married UP. And Vol don't you forget your roots. VolMom

Vol Abroad said...

there were more guns about than you describe, VolMom.

Anonymous said...

There aren't anymore. And none of them belonged to me. VolMom