View through my window

May 23, 2006

Class

When I was a kid, I was desperate to be common.

This seems like a ridiculously snobby thing to say, I agree.

But it struck me that all the fun things in the world were dismissed by my parents as "that's common". My parents, you will appreciate, were professional people and had (still have) ludicrous pretentions about being Upper Middle Class.

I wanted Angel Delight. Angel Delight is common, so I got junket. Which for the uninitiated is a kind of sloppy, watery yogurty shite. It doesn't have bits of pineapple in, which is what I wanted. It looks like sperm, frankly, and smells not dissimilar either. I'm not going to continue this comparison on the grounds that I might incriminate myself - for the record, I DO NOT KNOW what sperm tastes like.

I wanted strawberry jam on sliced white bread. Strawberry jam, unbelievably, is common, and so is sliced bread. I got homemade marmalade with big bits of bitter peel in, on floury bread from the baker's. At least it was white some of the time.

I was desperate for a Raleigh Commando, which was a bit like a forerunner of a BMX bike. But these were common. Despite the fact they could easily have afforded one, I got hand-down bikes from my cousins, including a girl's bike with no crossbar. Which was embarrassing down the park. I once went to meet a new girlfriend from her school on a bike that was so small that even with the seat post as high as it would go, my knees were still round my ears. That's what it felt like anyway. She was so embarrassed she finished with me not long after.

I wanted to live on an estate. This is irretrievably common. We had to live in the centre of town in a house built in 1700 odd which had no square rooms and creaky stairs and plumbing that didn't work and leaded windows that leaked, and always had mould or something falling to bits. Or both. More importantly, it didn't have mates playing football in the street outside. Going to see mates involved the complicated rigmarole of phoning up and asking their mum and setting a home time and making sure your homework was done first. Not just going out and playing outside the front, which was all I wanted.

I wanted friends round. But all my friends were common so I couldn't. All the ones that Mum wanted me to invite who weren't common were up their own arses, or went hunting on Daddy's horses, or were so inbred that their chins had entirely disappeared. And none of them liked me anyway. They probably thought I was common with ideas above my station. Come to think of it, my parents had fallen into this trap themselves, to the extent that during my entire childhood, I cannot remember a single person of their generation coming round who wasn't in some way related. They had (have) no friends whatsoever.

I wanted girlfriends in my room. Not to stay over, obviously, that wasn't going to be allowed. But this was common, no lady would allow herself upstairs alone*, so all my girlfriends had to sit in the lounge (sorry, living room, or even drawing room), drinking tea from the best china cups and saucers while my Mum asked embarrassingly direct questions about what their Dads did for a living.

Do you know what? All I wanted was to be normal, and like the other kids in my school. Not the one turning up with their books in a leather satchel. Or having roast pheasant sandwiches. Or having a pudding basin haircut. I know that my Mum and Dad just wanted what was best. But it wasn't.

*that's no lady, that's my girlfriend.

7 Comments:

  • Nice article.

    I've been thinking about posting three identical blog entries one week, one in a working-class vocabulary, the next in a middle-class vocabulary, and finally one in a very upper-class vocabulary. Just as an illustration for the non-native speakers of English. But it's turning out to be too much like Fawlty Tower's Basil :-(

    By Anonymous Stu Savory, at 6:54 pm  

  • She came from Greece she had a thirst for knowledge,
    she studied sculpture at Saint Martin's College,
    that's where I,
    caught her eye.
    She told me that her Dad was loaded,
    I said "In that case I'll have a rum and coca-cola."
    She said "Fine."
    and in thirty seconds time she said,

    "I want to live like common people,
    I want to do whatever common people do,
    I want to sleep with common people,
    I want to sleep with common people,
    like you."

    Well what else could I do -
    I said "I'll see what I can do."
    I took her to a supermarket,
    I don't know why but I had to start it somewhere,
    so it started there.
    I said pretend you've got no money,
    she just laughed and said,
    "Oh you're so funny."
    I said "yeah?
    Well I can't see anyone else smiling in here.
    Are you sure you want to live like common people,
    you want to see whatever common people see,
    you want to sleep with common people,
    you want to sleep with common people,
    like me."
    But she didn't understand,
    she just smiled and held my hand.

    Rent a flat above a shop,
    cut your hair and get a job.
    Smoke some fags and play some pool,
    pretend you never went to school.
    But still you'll never get it right,
    cos when you're laid in bed at night,
    watching roaches climb the wall,
    if you call your Dad he could stop it all.

    You'll never live like common people,
    you'll never do what common people do,
    you'll never fail like common people,
    you'll never watch your life slide out of view,
    and dance and drink and screw,
    because there's nothing else to do.

    Sing along with the common people,
    sing along and it might just get you through,
    laugh along with the common people,
    laugh along even though they're laughing at you,
    and the stupid things that you do.
    Because you think that poor is cool.

    I want to live with common people,
    I want to live with common people etc...

    (sorry, just couldn't resist that)

    By Blogger I, like the view, at 7:00 pm  

  • You think you had it rough?

    My parents sent me to a Quaker school where everyone advocated pacifism, wore brown socks, and dissaproved of money (£5k a year day fees).

    I fancied fighting and making a few quid.

    Fuckin' Ready Brek every day for five years.

    By Blogger garfer, at 11:25 pm  

  • Hi Crisis,

    This is a shameless plea for you to change my link address to my lovely new place.

    And please do pop over for tea anytime.

    By Blogger J.J, at 9:44 pm  

  • have you gone?
    are you an ex-blogger.
    or like me have you been on half-term hols?

    By Blogger the Beep, at 2:21 pm  

  • i was going to ask that. i've been away and come back and now you've gone away. are you coming back?

    By Blogger surly girl, at 9:35 pm  

  • I'm here.
    Just busy.
    And a bit uninspired on subjects blogworthy.

    By Blogger crisiswhatcrisis, at 3:31 pm  

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