Am I posh? Yesterday a workman came in to fix the tap. He'd interrupted LJ's piano-playing (Debussy's Arabesque, 'cause she's exhausted the Chas 'n' Dave songbook), which she went back to. Later, the workman, having declared his love of Bach (what? you're a plumber!), announced that he'd never been in such a posh flat, to which LJ could only reply 'We're not posh!'. I slapped his back, asked if he'd seen the football last night, offered him a fag, ran out and bought The Sun, showed him Page 3...anything but have him think we're posh! The poor deluded man had seen all my music, some of the books, heard LJ playing Debussy, added two and two together and came up with five.
It's understandable. After all, to collect books and music and play Debussy you've got to be a bit posh, surely. He hadn't accounted for the fact that his company was contracted out to a Housing Association, obviously. Perhaps he thought we were moneyed and, rent-wise, living well within our means.
But then, 'posh' doesn't necessarily relate to income, does it? We have 'posh' taste? We have middle-class taste? I've no idea what middle-class music collections look like, so now I wonder if mine fits the bill...Jazz (oh very middle!), Funk (mmm, maybe), vintage electronic (?), modern electronic (?), avant-garde electronic (probably), reggae (?) - there's just no telling. As for the books, a collection including Ray Bradbury and Baudelaire doesn't say much, does it? The imaginary browser might do better to note what isn't here.
I tell myself that class in relation to culture is rapidly becoming impossible to define because I know a few people with similar taste who aren't 'posh', but then I look around at society and see that the stereotypes still fit the bill. People-watching outside a café the other week, LJ and me discussed girls,what they wear and what it says about them. We concluded that for the average prole girl sporting the Hooker look, celeb dolly birds dressed like tarts are key role-models. LJ's dead against it, of course, but men, strangely, are more reluctant to criticise.
The success of The Only Way Is Essex spurs working class youths to greater heights of gawd blimey bling (except that Essex girls don't say 'Gawd blimey, do they? They say 'Oh my god!' a lot, I think). Well, they must aspire to something. Something superficial - off-the-peg pride. They say it loud, they're airheads and proud. It's a natural reaction in an increasingly polarised society of haves and have-nots. Material success is all, and is not inherently related to class because you could become a working-class TV celeb and get rich, couldn't you? Yes. If not, at least dress like one.
Posh culchur is the last thing a working-class boy or girl wants to aspire to; things like Classical or avant-garde music, and books that aren't celeb biographies, Harry Potter, or E. L. James. Sadly, all that glitters in mini-skirts 'n' vertigo-inducing heels is not gold, but more like 50 shades of gormless grey.
In case you're thinking I equate certain forms of culture with intelligence, I should state that I'm pretty stupid. The average school kid would do better than me in exams...unless they were juniors...although even there I'm doubtful. No, all I'm thinking is that books, music and films of depth, or artistic integrity and daring, do us all good, if only by stretching the imagination and, yes, intellect. Anything made for sheeple does the opposite, it confines, confirms ignorance, and cashes in on it. I'm sure that all I've read, seen and heard has enlarged my mind (m-a-a-n), and there was/is plenty of room for enlargement, believe me.
Anyway, here's to the Bach-loving plumber. He may have read us wrong, but at least he defied what would have been our stereotyping of him. There's hope yet.