Monday, 5 January 2009

Embourgeoisement

Before I get into this and inadvertently upset anyone, I should say that I was brought up in a very working class home. My mum was a cleaner, my dad was a drunk, we had no car and we lived in a council house. I don’t think I ate anything that hadn’t come out of a tin until I was 16. My mother never missed an episode of Coronation Street and my father had The Sun delivered to our house. He also took the Sunday Sport.

So if I come across as a little snobbish, then I’m sorry, but I like to think I have the right.

I’d also like to point out that of course I do know it’s possible to be working class and still enjoy – for example – reading newspapers without pictures of glamour models in them, or watching films without car chases and explosions and actresses who are little more than glorified glamour models taking off their clothes. I’m also aware that people with more money and more opportunities in life can be equally crass and classless and moronic. They just tend to do it in slightly more expensive clothes. Plus their grammar is generally better.

Anyway, having said all that, I’m probably not going to offend anyone. I just wanted to say a few words about my new neighbours.

When I went off to Scotland last week, the house to the left of me was empty. When I came back yesterday evening, it was occupied. So Morag and I popped by to say hello.

The door was answered by a burly man with unsightly Audreys on his right arm. When we explained that we lived next door and that we’d just come by to say hi, the burly man shouted up the stairs. ‘NORA!’ he shouted. ‘Neighbours wanna say ‘ello.’

Already I’ve probably given a slightly unfair representation of the burly man, because he was pleasant enough, all smiles and eye contact. But the fact is… he was just so coarse.

Anyway, before I get carried away, I should point out that Burly doesn’t actually live there. Burly is a mate of Nora’s, helping out with the redecoration. So that’s good.

Unfortunately, Nora – no, I shouldn’t. I mean, what’s wrong with me? I am an unconscionable snob. And I feel terrible about it. Hence all the pre-empting earlier. And the attempts to justify it. I know it’s wrong though. I know I’ve become a sickening snob. I just – is it do wrong to want to live next door to people who like the finer things in life? Or at least people who aspire to the finer things in life.

Nora seemed perfectly fine. She just seemed a little uneducated, that’s all. A little… simple. She barely said a word though, so I’m basing this on her appearance and her simpleton’s gummy grin. Oh, and on the fact that she could barely string a sentence together.

We’ll see though. Fingers crossed Nora and her two children will prove wonderful neighbours. They haven’t actually moved in yet. They’re having the entire house redecorated by Burly and his mates beforehand, which is why today – my first day working at home – was not only freezing cold, but also liberally peppered with the sounds of wallpaper scraping and burly working class men using the word ‘innit’ rather a lot.

The neighbours to the right are much more my cup of tea by the way, two university-educated young ladies, both named Heather. I’ve only met them very briefly thus far, but you can tell that they’re good eggs. I even saw Ocado delivering some shopping to them just before Christmas.

You know, what I hope is that I have my prejudices utterly smashed to pieces in the coming weeks and months because I’m not comfortable with them.

Tonight, I intend to watch the darts on telly as penance.



Also tonight, Morag is moving in!

Wish her luck.



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16 comments:

Catofstripes said...

Good luck Morag.

Anonymous said...

Not sure if you mentioned where you're living after Peckham, but maybe you need to go to choose your suburb more wisely to find these people you wish to live besides?

Anyway, university-educated young ladies might enjoy throwing raucous parties, whereas the woman with young kids goes to bed early? To me, I don't care who my neighbours are as long as they are not noisy. Full stop. (I do live in Holland Park though).

Clare Sudders said...

Well, at least you want to get to know your neighbours. If you were a proper snob you wouldn't want anything to do with any of 'em.

I don't like the idea of snobbery, am officially anti-it, theoretically don't have preconceived notions or any of that shit, but... in practice I don't feel comfortable in the company of anyone who doesn't have the same background as myself, i.e. middle class university-educated liberal leftie, etc.

Clare Sudders said...

P.S. You forgot to comment-whore, and even though you didn't ask the what-are-you-up-to question, I'm still doing my usual trick of re-commenting in order to answer it. Because tomorrow, I have an audition to go on Countdown!

I'm terribly excited about it. Can you tell?

Beavercreek Community said...

i've got several college degrees and no one particularly likes being my neighbor...

we all have these thoughts, biases and prejudices - so very bold to put them out there. the caveats help, mind you, but it's commendable to just say it...

good luck, morag!

daisyfae said...

oh crap - didn't sign that one. last comment was from moi (that's french...)

Some Chilean Woman said...

My neighbors are all burly Tongans -I must say I feel protected. Sometimes I do feel frightened when they are getting frisky -I know when it's coming too, the island music gets louder.
Good luck Morag!

Penelope said...

I say enbrace your inner snob, it makes for funny reading ;o)
Good luck to both of you on the moving in thing.

Kirses said...

Brilliant - you can call the girls next door 'the heathers'...

Clive For Coffee said...

Your background sounds almost exactly the same as mine, and I'm a terrible snob too.

If you want to bring out your true inner-snob to a massively unacceptible level, visit Blackpool. We were dragged there every year.

You might actually be a little frightened.

Mind you, when we were little kids and went carol singing, all the families on the council estate gave us something, it was the middle-class semi-detached lot that told us to piss off.

La Bête said...

Anon, I most certainly didn’t mention where I’m living now. It doesn’t even touch the hem of Holland Park though.

Good luck on Countdown, Sudders. You big weirdo, you.

Daisy, are you Beavercreek Community? I’m confused.

SCW, frisky burly Tongans sounds positively terrifying. And also a little bit sexy.

Thanks, Pen. I’m thinking of compiling a list of attributes I consider to be signifiers of good stock. Watching University Challenge, for instance. Growing your own Basil.

Kirses, quite. They’re not really called Heather, you know. But they do both have the same name.

Clive, I guess it comes of living amongst it, then managing to get out of it. I suppose I feel that if I was able to learn to see beyond Coronation Street and tabloid journalism, then everybody else should be able to too. But that’s probably snobbishness in a nutshell. Oh well. C'est la vie.

Autolycus said...

You're not implying the Heathers are, well, fans of sensible shoes, are you? That could be another complication, perhaps - particularly if and when they fall out with each other. "Ladylike" might definitely not be the word then.

BTW - "Audreys"? I'm trying to think of rhymes for... Hepburn? Nicholls?

Oh. I see now. Yes, with bilingual puns, bourgeois is definitely the word.

John Belo said...

Happy New Year :)

Kirses said...

feck, walked into that one didn't I

iLL Man said...

I don't mind folk that aren't too bright, unless they're malignant with it. Suppose I feel the same way about smartarses too....... She sounds harmless. How old are her kids? Often find that destructive sprogs are the biggest problem when new neighbours arrive.

Helen said...

Hello!

I found you via twitter and thought I'd have a gander at your blog.... There goes the rest of my working day then!