Flip Flop Flying

Next to Godliness

with 21 comments

As I type, there are two Russian females in the flat. A mother and a daughter. We are paying them money to clean up the mess we leave behind.

Oh man, it’s a weird feeling. It’s nice to have the floors suddenly sparkle without having to lift a finger, though. It’s great to see the bath miraculously not have the scum rings on it anymore. All that and more, just for opening my wallet and giving these ladies a couple of notes.

I always used to wonder how a person, and this seems far more alive a concept for British people, how a person changed class. It seems there are certain walls that can’t be broken down: working or middle class folk can never be upper class and the toffs can never come down to our level. But that working-to-middle class barrier is fairly easily hurdled.
I always thought of myself as working class cos my Dad was a miner… no, he wasn’t, that’s a lie. My dad began his career as a carpenter. My mum has done various jobs, none of which required an office. My father’s parents were a bus driver and a factory worker. All this is pretty archetypal working class, I’d say. But my dad was a bit fancy, did some schoolin’ and book learnin’ and became an architectural technician. But, in attitude and lifestyle we were still watching the pennies and eating egg and chips.

Then I come along, with my fancy pencils and cartridge paper, thinking I’m some kinda artist. And I go off to art college and university and end up being a self-employed illustrator with fancy clients all over the world, who’s left his native country and is living in one of Europe’s coolest cities.

I’m guessing that means I’m getting close to being middle class. Well, getting close, maybe, until there’s two Russians cleaning your toilet; then I think I’ve got to being middle class. And maybe all this is what they call middle class guilt.

I wonder if I’ll start reading the Daily Mail and hating the gays and the immigrants soon? I already peak through the curtains and my scary neighbour across the street…

Written by Craig

August 16th, 2005 at 11:05 am

Posted in Uncategorized

21 Responses to 'Next to Godliness'

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  1. The Mail isn’t read by the middle class, it’s read by the ones who for some reason aspire to go higher, and think it’s the paedophile worshops held by illegal immigrants with a labour council grant that’s stopping them from ruling england and bringing back fox hunting. Perhaps.

    It is nice to have a clean room. Sadly russian women are a luxury I don’t have. We can’t all have times articles ya know :-p


    16 Aug 05 at 12:49

  2. Well, I’ve know of at least four or five middle class families that have the Mail delivered, so…


    16 Aug 05 at 13:19

  3. I’m sure you’re right to suggest class worry is a British thing. I had a similar family background to you and always felt working class. now that i can afford to go on foreign holidays and use olive oil instead of marg I seem to use ‘middle class’ as a term of abuse more than ever. And as for the Daily Mail…

    I think it’s that thing Groucho Marx said about not wanting to join a club that would have you as a member.


    16 Aug 05 at 14:24

  4. We’re still working class if you, like I do too, use a word like “marg”!


    16 Aug 05 at 14:31

  5. ha ha ha!


    16 Aug 05 at 14:42

  6. You get a fair bit of political diversity within any socio-economic class. So you can be a middle-class liberal, eating feta cheese and reading the Guardian, or a middle class reactionary, eating Stilton and wishing the gays would just stop *flaunting* it, for heaven’s sake.


    16 Aug 05 at 14:43

  7. Aha, the voice of reason. I like stilton, but I’d call myself liberal. I guess the combination puts me in political no-mans land.


    16 Aug 05 at 15:58

  8. woops, that one above is ‘me’ rather than anonymous. I seem to be treating this like I forum. I’ll stop now.


    16 Aug 05 at 16:01

  9. Don’t feel too guilty, you are giving them a job.

    Enjoy the cleanness!


    16 Aug 05 at 16:37

  10. Strikes me we’ve had similar life trajectories. Growing up in a tower block I never imagined one day I’d own a home in London, let alone have a Polish woman come in and do my cleaning for me. But personally I’d say that socioeconomic class is totally flexible, as it’s aligned to money and status (perceived status at that) and that what’s important is attitude and respect for people. Do you whip your Russians around the house, or view them as lowly, or deliberately underpay them? I suspect you don’t. Similarly though I love the English countryside and find it a beautiful place, I’ll never subscribe to many of the views of the Little Englanders who live there. It’s all about a sense of perspective, innit? (And at the end of the day, olive oil is better than Trex hands down. And the Daily Mail is rancid, no question.)

    Ian Mac

    16 Aug 05 at 19:49

  11. I just hover behind them with a branding iron in case them damn Ruskies make a mistake! : )

    It’s a shame that that seems a popular attitude in the countryside, huh? It could be such a lovely place to live if it weren’t for the folk who’d just think you were weird for wearing pink flip flops.

    Olive oil is great, and sun-dried tomotoes for that matter are just divine.

    And the Mail… well, you just gotta worry where a newspaper’s reason to exist seems to be to drum up hate for somebody.


    16 Aug 05 at 20:05

  12. That’s a broad brush to paint the countryside with. I live there and sometimes wear pink flip flops. I don’t have anyone to do my cleaning though, which is a shame.


    16 Aug 05 at 21:10

  13. Yeh, I probably didn’t make myself clear… what I meant was the less people there are in a city/town/village, the more one would stand out.

    Cleaners seem pretty cheap as it goes. Far cheaper the anti-freeze to the brain pain of having to work myself into a funk to do it all myself.


    16 Aug 05 at 21:19

  14. True true. What’s the class standing on using the word ‘divine’ to describe tomatoes?! Only joking. Have a super duper evening.


    16 Aug 05 at 21:31

  15. I dunno, but someone up there blessed the person who first dried out some tomatoes in the sun and whacked ’em in a load of oil!


    16 Aug 05 at 21:52

  16. I live in the countryside. And I only have a passing interest in sheep. I dislike generalisations enormously, but I was genuinelly spooked when I went to the isle of man. I couldn’t get the Wicker man out of my head. Oh well.

    Pink flipflops are cool.


    16 Aug 05 at 22:30

  17. “Man who draws little people out of pixels, subjugates Eastern European manual labourers.” The Sun, 17th August 2005.


    17 Aug 05 at 01:26

  18. Craig,
    I’m a hard working woman in Brazil, for many many years.Like you, I come from a low-class family. I grew up on a house that had no books at atll. Now I live in a nice apartment but I still find it strange to have two maids in the house. The difference? Now we are three hard working women under the same ceiling..
    Love your work,
    For 5 years I’ve been reading you site and now, your blog.
    Good luck, always.


    17 Aug 05 at 02:46

  19. Rosana, thank you kindly.


    17 Aug 05 at 11:32

  20. I wouldn’t sweat it, Craig. There’s more to the class system than upper, middle and lower. By all accounts – coming from a lower-ish class background, becoming an artist, living in Berlin, you seem to me to be a kind of semi-Bohemian as opposed to a bourgeoise. Anyway, class is relative. It’s not about money or having books and maids. It’s about understanding what’s in the books, or not cleaning up before your made turns up or being able to hold conversations about more than just football and music.


    17 Aug 05 at 17:43

  21. Bohemian…. I like that!


    17 Aug 05 at 21:13

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