Friday, 9 April 2010

Leaders' Wives

I've known the Sam Cams of this world for many years; they're usually married to chums, and live in Richmond, or Twickenham. Apart from social occasions, you usually only see them when you open a sleep encrusted eye to realise in a flood of existential angst that you're sleeping on their sofa after a night out with their husband. As they open curtains and windows to expel the frowsty debauch stench, your best tactic is to groan. The best of them will bring you a pint of cold orange juice, and prevent their infant offspring from poking you with kitchen implements. Inevitably you will ask "Did we make much noise when we got in last night?" to which the faux-chilled response will be "No, not after you found the right house" or similar. You see, Sam Cams accept that their men need a decent binge from time to time and the occasional tenancy of their sofa is an acceptable price to pay.

I'm far less certain about Sarah Brown. She has something of a look in her that would give me second thoughts about leaving sharp knives about. Classwise, I can't place her; she's like the Scots, who also can't be defined in English class terms. I can imagine her gutting herring in Hull more easily than I can see her chairing an ad agency business development meeting in Golden Square. She would look natural in tartan and scary in orange. I really wouldn't like to wake up on Sarah's sofa.

I presume Nick Clegg is married but can't be bothered to look it up. I've never seen a picture or footage of his wife. However, she'd be a strange woman indeed if she didn't mutter 'Thirty boy!" from time to time.

There you have it.


Anonymous said...

Sarah Brown was born in England, spent her early years in Tanzania, went to school in university and England, founded a company in England and has lived all of her life in England.

If you can't fit her into the English class system, maybe it's because the idea of a class system is flawed from the start. It's also worth remembering that the middle-class wives of your middle-class friends are unlikely to have baronets for a father, as SamCam has, and to be a direct descendant of Charles II, as SamCam is.

You're not really talking about the vagaries of the English clas system at all, R. What you're really talking about is the way that modern metropolitan culture is such that once you make a certain amount of money p.a. (or marry someone who does so) you become part of a dull, grey and painfully bland melange all living within a couple of miles of each other in the faux-bo parts of London.

The distinct cultures (whether based on class, religion, race, religion, Morris Dancing or anything else) of these islands are being erased in favour of this inoffensive stands-for-nothing rootless Notting Hill pseudo-cultural alloy.

Tamianne said...

As someone who is from a very complicated background in terms of class, who grew up in the epicentre of Essex, but worked with mostly upper middle class people. I would say that there are vile women you wouldn’t trust with knives on both sides of the class divide, so wouldn’t associate this with class. About whose sofa you’d like to wake up on – I think it all depends on who you’ve mixed with, who you’re used to and even more importantly whether or not you have been accepted by them and treated as an equal.
Due to having been from such a mixed class background I was called a ‘snob’ at the comprehensive school I attended, but also usually not fully accepted into the cliques formed by the upper middle classes where I’ve worked. Having said all that I think that after initial suspicion I am usually accepted by working class people, but probably not so often by the middle classes. I think that’s why most of my friends are foreign or working class. I do have one upper middle class friend, she’s slightly nuts (in a good way) and very much a free thinker, which I think helps. She still leaves me to say the dreaded phrase ‘Where is the toilet?’ when in a cafĂ© with foreign staff who don’t understand ‘lavatory’, so even she has some prejudices.
To return to the subject of the sofa, due to my own experiences I think to be honest I’d rather wake up on one belonging to a fisherman from Hull than the son of an aristocrat’s. The fisherman would probably be more like the boys I went to school with. I imagine that the working class one would make me a nice cup of tea and have a genuine two way chat. Whereas the son of the aristocrat might tell me an anecdote before dismissing me. Yes, I know I'm over-generalising here, but it's just to make the point.

To change the subject a bit, I saw a bit of SamCam the other day and found it interesting that she doesn't speak with an RP accent, she seems to have adopted what linguists seem to be calling 'estuary English'. I used to think that this was just a south Essex/Kent accent, but they're using it to refer to this non-regional accent used by the middle classes when they want to 'slum it' (Michael Gove's words) and the working classes who have become more socially mobile. Maybe it's part of this 'pseudo-cultural alloy' that Anonymous is referring to.

P.S. Nick Clegg's wife is quite glamorous and Spanish.