The social order has been central to British culture since our origins in the feudal saxon tribes. While we aren’t as prejudiced as the Indian “Caste” system, the distinction between our classes is highly apparent. The question you should ask yourself, is which one are you? And when are you being judged on your class?
The Working Class
The working class used to be made up of everyone who worked for a living, hence its name. However, nowadays the common joke is that the working class doesn’t work. In the distant past you were “classified,” as working class when you are living off of council property, benefits or did not pay for your education.
In real terms if you have died your skin a cheap orange and have teeth whiter than the Klu Klux Clan then you’re in danger of being judged as the very cliché of the modern working class. If your idols are anyone on a soap drama then you have reached the critical stages, if you casually ask someone what they thought of X-Factor last night as a means of conversation then you have passed into the destructive depths of class-cliché beyond return.
But fear not, the working class is the least judged of the classes. You are seen as the “salt-of-the-earth,” hard workers, the building blocks upon what our society is founded. You are most likely to be interviewed by the BBC as a representation of “normal” people and wear tracksuit bottoms in a non-ironic fashion.
The Middle Class
Until relatively recently the middle class was the most discreet of the classes, generally being known for quietly bumbling along and minding their own business, not having the money for extravagance but quite enough for luxury. The past definition of the class was those who did not work but lived off of investments in companies, but this was back when the middle classes were a select few. We are in desperate need of a redefinition of the class for modern times which wilfully I provide.
Recently the middle class have been well known for pretentious devotion to brands, home cooking and a love/hate relationship with technology. The symptoms of middle-topia are owning a Waitrose card, frowning slightly when you spot a grammatical error, and apologising when someone steps on your foot.
The warning signs of more severe middle class syndrome are having children with names consisting of more than three syllables – examples include Felicity, Araminta and anything ending in “bella” – looking up your family history and delighting in finding you’re related to a Lord or Lady, and contemplating the finer things in life such as interior design and fine wines and cheeses.
The middle class is the most mocked class by mild Facebook pages such as ”Overheard in Waitrose,” and “Private School Snapchat.” But it is a good natured mocking, mostly by self-aware victims of Middle Class Syndrome.
The Upper Class
Now this is a tricky one, seeing as the upper class is a rarity nowadays. The rule used to be that if you, or your father had finished higher education then you were upper class, but seeing as it is no longer the Victorian era, the definition needs adjusting somewhat.
It’s safe to say that any titled individual is automatically Upper Class – any relation to the royals, a millionaire, and anyone with a coat of arms that wasn’t manufactured on the internet. The finer points come in the distinction between middle and upper class, as judgement is pretty equal on the two, though as the middle class is considerably larger it is on a larger proportionate scale for the Upper Class.
If the majority of your wealth came from an inheritance, or company profits then you are solidly at the top. If you wrinkle your nose at the mention of the one-percent tax then in the class stakes you are as high as a junkie in a hot air balloon. You may bask in your wealth fuelled glory, but you are by far the most likely to be mugged in a back alley, feature in newspaper scandals, and be the real life victim of a Cluedo investigation.
The Class Distinctions are what makes us so British, the incurable sense of belonging to a class, and pride in that sense of belonging. And should you fit a class cliché, revel in it. It’s what makes you so gloriously British.