Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Class - what is it?

I have crossed the one year mark from my Mum's death - and it took a lot more effort than I thought it was going to - but the kids and I remembered her both on her birthday and the day she died/was buried and I can see some of determined character in all 3 of my kids even more clearly now than ever before. She would be proud of them and I am thankful as it means they will move mountains to achieve their goals.

One thing my Mum never taught me about was class. I can pretty confidently say that it never came up in any conversation we ever had. "Always use manners, never give up something important, be beyond reproach in all your actions and always make sure you have financial independence". Those were the things instilled in me when growing up - class never came into it and I can't say it has ever been used in a conversation with my kids while they are growing up.

Happily living in oblivion.

But Class is something I keep reading or hearing about. One example of seeing it was with a rival school last month that we are constantly at loggerheads with - this is just because our girls teams are equally talented in football - nothing life threatening - but the t shirts all the parents wore say "pure class" as their logo - then their gorgeous and talented girls do a bunch of headbutting and illegal holds that their coach has taught them and you are left to ponder - what is class?

The second example was reading a blog I normally love (and the reason for my pondering), the writer notes how parents shouldn't bring children on holidays to expensive places and that letting children run free in expensive hotels shows that people with money, don't necessarily have class. I agree that this behaviour is not on and would not allow my kids to do what she was saying these kids were doing - and it is poor manners for the parents to allow it. But is it linked to class?

My third example is a personal one - two British friends were over for dinner one night. The southern one (who would be considered to have class as her upbringing was bahama holidays, private schools and nannies/drivers) stated that it was obvious from where she stood that J was a man of class and that I wasn't (we had drunk a lot by this stage). I asked her if she considered herself to have this class that she discussed - of course, she said - isn't it obvious. So I was left to ponder as I considered making this statement as being quite rude, whereas she saw it as a statement in the obvious - so really - what was the link between class and manners?

But the definition of class in my trusty Oxford is "rank or order of society, division according to to quality, group of persons or things having some characteristic in common - and finally - the one everyone must be grasping at - distinction, high quality" - so basically it is a vague reference to saying you have "high quality" but what is high quality? Is it manners or money?

What defines "high quality" (no - not in dictionary)? Can someone who smokes in a public place (yes - even outside) be considered to have manners or class? Isn't it bad manners to pollute the air other people breath (and in my case cause asthma) Is there a link between high quality and class? What do you think?

Now please - don't go thinking I am getting all insecure about having / not having class. I can state for the record that I have never pondered the question about myself before - you are who you are - that's it. I just try to have manners (not always succeeding).

But I would love to understand the definition and peoples love of using it - as I think it is very 18th century British and should be extinct (or is that the convict Aussie coming out in me).

1 comment:

johnorford said...

I read somewhere that Australia is one of the least hierarchical societies whereas Indonesia is one of the most hierarchical. I have a feeling that the UK is also relatively hierarchical... Whereas I don't think Ireland is too much...

So er... U'r higher class English pal can't help it, it's how some of them are brought up...