Living in 21st century Britain, you’d think that the class you were born into would have no effect on your future. After all, we have free education until the age of 18, financial aid for university and employers can’t discriminate against you for such a thing (well, they aren’t supposed to anyway). Unfortunately, as I discovered yesterday, there are still some cunts who think that being working-class makes you an uncouth fuckwit, and that they should aspire to being middle class in order to ‘fit in’ in certain environments.
Peter Brandt, head of policy at the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, has stated that, in order to get ahead in life, children from poor homes need to change what they wear, what they eat and how they conduct their personal relationships. Apparently learning how to think and behave like someone who was born middle-class is the only way to succeed. This doesn’t just apply to universities and careers: Brandt also thinks that working-class people are so fucking stupid we don’t know how to behave in restaurants and theatres; what he calls ‘middle-class environments’.
What utter fucking bullshit. What, being working-class makes you a complete moron, devoid of all social etiquette? That you have no cocking dress sense whatsoever and your hobbies and interests are limited to drinking White Lightning, smoking fags and cursing? OK, there are some working-class people like that. Then again, I also know a lot of middle-class people with no dress sense and a penchant for alcohol and nicotine.
As a working-class person myself, I find this quite insulting. Yes, I was brought up in a small town on the outskirts of Doncaster, which was, and still is, well-known for being a shithole. Even its name sounds shit. Stainforth. Or Stainy, for short. OK, yes, I grew up in an impoverished area, where it seemed that a lot of people’s life ambition was to have a kid at an extremely young age so they can get a free house and live off benefits for the rest of their days, but to say that all working class people think like that is just fucking ignorant. Many of my friends who were brought up in working-class families have gone on to university and have had successful careers. Did they struggle to fit in at university? No. Did they feel uncomfortable in restaurants and theatres? No. Do they now class themselves as middle-class? Do they fuck.
The problem with today’s society is what it perceives as working-class. The media basically portrays working-class people as coming from very poor backgrounds, who haven’t worked for generations, wear cheap, tacky sportswear and don’t know how to form a sentence without the word ‘fuck’ in it every other word. Which is just fucking stupid. Especially when you consider the second point: they think that working-class means you’re a lazy cunt who doesn’t want to work. Hello?! It’s called ‘working-class’. Traditionally these were the people who worked in the shittiest of jobs, just so the middle-class didn’t have to work.
Of course, time moves on and definitions change. But the stereotyping really pisses me off. I’m working class. Yes, I like drinking beer. I like swearing. But I also like literature, art and classical music. And have done from an early age. What, because my parent’s didn’t make much money, I’m not supposed to like these things? And if I didn’t, I’m supposed to learn to, or pretend to, in order to make something of my life?
And what is making something of your life? Let’s say you’re working-class, do shit at school, get a job as a shop assistant and spend the next 50 years being poor but happy. How is that not making something of your life? You make the most of what you’ve got, and you’re content with it. It doesn’t make you less of a person. It doesn’t mean your life is of less value than anyone else’s.
Brandt insinuates that the working-class dont have a culture of their own, and that they should strive to achieve the middle-çlass way of life. But why should we? I’ve inherited some of what I believe to be my best features from my working-class parents. For example, when I was studying at Cardiff University, I was talking with a few friends about work, and the conversation turned to what jobs we would be willing to do after uni. A friend of mine, middle-class, said he would never be a cleaner, as it was ‘beneath’: why should he study just to end up doing a job like that? My view? If I needed money, I’d fucking clean toilets for a living. I’d think nothing of it. Even with a postgraduate qualification.’ That’s because I’ve been brought up with a working-class attitude to work: nothing is beneath you, you are no better than anyone else. Something which a lot of middle-class people could do with learning.