Monday, October 3, 2011

A Matter of Class

Last night, I was watching a show on the ABC about the separation of classes; and I found it quite interesting.  Even though it was a UK show, and only went for 20 minutes, I found there was a lot in it that showed me which class I'm in.  
From the way we speak, to the way we dress, our education, our food, where we sit at the dining room table, how we furnish our homes to what we call things in our homes, how we approach asking where things are in public to where our father's worked, everything about us and our family life speaks volumes about what class we are in, from and going to.  It's amazing how people can come from a Working Class background, grow up in a Middle Class family and our children can move further up the social ladder and become Upper Class in their lives.  And it all boils down to what our father's did for a living - or even our Grandfather's.
I noticed last night that by what I called things I was Upper Middle Class.  They showed pictures of living rooms and asked if we - the viewers - called them living rooms, drawing rooms or sitting rooms, or lounge rooms.  Personally, I call mine a living room; mainly because I do my living in it from playing the piano to watching dvds on the television and playing music on the stereo to reading books and knitting or doing other crafty things or having visitors stay and have cups of coffee/tea.  It's a living area.
Then they showed pictures of bathrooms with toilets.  Well, there was a big fuss of what that was called.  Was it W/C, a toilet, bog, lavatory, loo, smallest room in the house, little boy's room... well, the list went on!  I call mine, the loo, toilet or smallest room in the house (because the latter is!).
And the way our houses are presented - along with what kind of furniture we collect - inside our homes is important too.  Is it functional or is it ornamental?  Does it match your curtains/drapes, floor coverings/carpet/tiles/rugs (and that's another thing, what you put on your floors and windows is a class thing too!).  Then, there's the idea of if you have a musical instrument sitting in your living room - a piano or an organ, or a guitar waiting to be played - or do you have something tacky like a 1970's Wurlitzer Jukebox?  Unless it really does match the rest of your house - and you've gone and taken your house back to that era on purpose, it'll look horrible and people will judge you for having it.  Do you have an entertainment unit which houses your stereo system, dvd player and television?  Or is it all just plonked on a stack of shelves against the wall?  Do you play vinyls on a turntable or cds - or both?  It's all a matter of what you have in your house, how you keep it all and how it looks to your visitors.... and it all puts you in a certain class; which one, it all depends.
They went on about the Royal Family and how everyone knew they were 'naff'; and this brought on how language and how we use it is an indication of which class we're a part of.  However, with the right tools, we can slide up and down the social ladder no matter which Class we're from.  This is something I haven't really noticed until now; and I think it's because of how I was brought up.  For example, the show talked about people using the word 'Common' to describe people who were below the Middle Class intelligence.  Now, my Grandma told me once I sounded Common when I cursed (mind I did it by accident in front of her; and after she told me that, I never did it again in front of her; and it was hard to do).  I didn't know what it meant at the time, not until my Mum told me.  However, I haven't really thought about the use of the word until the program mentioned it.
Names were also covered in this time as well.  It was said that the classier the name, the more Upper Class your family was (Arabella, Annabell, Cameron, Natalie).  Middle Class names were names where you could turn them into cute nicknames (Heather, Samuel, Augustus, Thomas) and Working Class names ended in a 'thud' (Jade, Gabe).  Yep, you can't escape where you're from with anything; no matter what, not even what your name is.  
However, as the times have changed, so have the way people dressed.  The way we dress speaks volumes about us as well - apparently.  I haven't seen much of a difference in the way I dress, but I do make sure I'm dressed in clean clothes - even if they're not the most fashionable ones - when I go out, as I never know who I'm going to meet.  Mum's the same way; she worries constantly about what she looks like.  It's amazing how it all comes back to how we're brought up... to make sure we look good just in case.
I found this program very interesting and unusual at the same time.  It touched on Debutant Balls, people's dress, the Royal Family (and how people loved to hate them and yet still loved them) and how we all somehow get along just fine no matter which class we're from.  So, which class did your family come from, which one were you brought up in and which one are you currently a part of now?  Has your Class status changed, or has it stayed pretty much the same?  Mine?  It's gone from Working Class to Middle Class through two generations.  Well, until my next post, take care, keep warm and safe and remember, I'm always here.   


  1. I wish I was home to watch this show as it sounded interesting. Will have to think about what class this house is. Still working on finalizing the renovations.

  2. Initially I wasn't going to watch it - just turn off the tv for the night - but once it got going, it really was very interesting on how classes were defined.

    And it inspired me to write the post today.