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We all want a piece of posh

August 20, 2010

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People say I have a posh accent. I was raised in the south, and have spent most of my life in one home county or another. I wouldn’t say I was ‘jolly hockey sticks’ – I call my parents mum and dad, not mummy and that-man-that-bought-me-a-pony-and-shags-the-housekeeper – but I guess like most from the Midlands (Hertfordshire and Oxfordshire respectively), I don’t have a definable accent other than “you know, a bit posh.”

Perhaps because I work with staunch labour supporters from the north, I’m constantly ridiculed because of my accent and where I grew up. The fact I spent (a small amount of) my education in private school is scorned at, and I’m judged because of what my father did for a living – and the lifestyle he was able to afford when I was a child. I totally have middle-class shame.

The other day, a colleague described a restaurant he and his wife had gone to as “a bit posh,” like it was a bad thing. Why? As a society we’re always trying to aspire and be better than one another, whether it’s “my dad’s bigger than your dad,” or keeping up with the Joneses. Top Gear is all about the fastest, most expensive cars, Vogue features the latest designer bag – we all want a piece of posh.

So why this reverse snobbery? Would my colleague take his wife to MacDonalds? No, he took her to a fancy restaurant and spent far too much on small portions of (I bet amazing) food. When friends come over for dinner, we make an effort to be as fancy as possible – “See how I serve a tegine of salmon mousse, rolled in fresh thyme. Or something (see? I’m not actually that posh, huh?). At work, we’re constantly striving to earn as much as possible, to climb the ladder, to be better. So why do we look down on what we’re reaching up for?

Incidentally, this all-for-the-workers colleague of mine currently occupies an incredibly middle-class job, owns his own house, reads the Guardian and is a vegan. Surely if there’s one thing worse than a posho, it’s a middle-class hypocrite, right?

Now where’s my riding hat?

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