The System

There were three girls on the train trying to establish who among them had the shittiest job. Was it the sales assistant, the coffee shop girl or the Pizza Hut chick? While they were all equally mistreated by customers and The Management, Pizza Hut Chick won because she had to come home stinking of cheese and tomato.

GIRL #1:  Anyway. Enough about work. Who’s coming to your 18th party?

GIRL #2:  Dunno yet.

GIRL #3:  Are you inviting Kelly?

G2:  No WAY. She’s a bitch. She said I didn’t get into St Andrews [University] because I wasn’t middle class!

G1:  That cow!

G3:  Middle class? What you mean by that?

G2:  You know, middle class.

G3:  No I don’t know.

G2:  Well you know, everyone has a class. There’s upper class, and below that is middle class, and below that is… what do you call the other one?

G1:  Working class.

G3:  Oh right. So how do you know which one you are?

G2:  It depends on what your dad does. If he’s something like a labourer or taxi driver then you’re working class.

G3:  Well. Then I’m working class.

G1:  Me too! And proud of it!

G3:  What are you if your Dad’s a doctor?

G1:  Depends what sort of doctor. There’s different classes of medical professional.

G2:  Yeah, like a brain surgeon would be upper class but a GP would be sorta… middle-upper.

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28 thoughts on “The System

  1. I read a pretty interesting book titled Watching the English a while ago, which listed a lot of the rules of the English class system (as observed by an anthropologist). Apparently indicators of lower-classness include: using the words “pardon” or “serviette”, having a satellite dish on one’s house, or keeping one’s house or garden excessively tidy. I’m not sure how these would translate to Scotland, though.

  2. Well I’m glad we got that all straightened out. And acb, I rip off a “paper towel” from the roll instead of using a “serviette” here in Canada… just wondering what that makes me. Heehee

  3. Serviette’s come in rolls? I though they only come in those evil plastic bags that when you open them up they burst out like gazelles escaping the local lion pride and go all over your pizza.

  4. Ha ha, oh I love conversations on public transport. However, as much as I like listening to interesting conversations, generally I’m the one making th stupid remarks.

  5. You know, I spent a couple of years telling German people that the class system didn’t exist. Germans are intrigued by this and I had to disillusion them. Sorry, people. Perhaps it was there in the past: feudal times, perhaps. But it is no more.

    Then I moved down to England and it was like a light going on….WOOOOOW! Like, THIS is the class system, right? Cool. It really does exist down here. But Scotland just doesn’t work that way. Probably too small. Things are too fluid. Must be the rain.

  6. Um, yes, the class system is still unfortunately alive and living in Edinburgh. But I reckon it usually only manifests itself with the kind of people who would have chips on their shoulder about something whatever their circumstances were.

    Isn’t it kind of inverse snobbery to insist that you’re working-class? I know some comfortably off people with professional-type jobs who insist they’re working-class, and frankly it seems like protesting too much. (Although if you, personally, struggled against deprivation in your youth, you’ve probably earned the right to call yourself what you like. But we are not our parents.)

    It’s all so daft. Call me middle-class if you want. Someone at uni called me “irredeemably bourgeois” once. All these labels are pretty silly.

  7. oh dear – I say serviette.
    I’m safe on the rest though.Especially the tidy house….
    And one thing is for sure – noone ever thinks they are rich.

  8. There does seem to be an inverted snobbery about proclaiming oneself to be working-class, regardless of evidence. Look at Damon “blue overalls in an empty East End pub” Albarn, for example, or Julie “Chav and Proud” Burchill.

    It’s a bit like the Australian fashion for boasting of one’s convict ancestors and their criminal careers.

  9. Obviously those girlies didn’t know about the underclass or as they are now known in England “chavs” or in Belfast “spides”. What are they in Scotland?

  10. Hey, you’re missing out the snobbery element, Shauny,: “Neds” is apparently a contracted form of “uneducated”.

    Just because we don’t have a class system, doesn’t mean we can’t act superior… *sniff*

  11. Apparently the theory that “ned” might stand for “non-educated delinquent” is just an attempt to think up an explanation after the fact. Which is a pity.

    I think the word’s quite recent – back in the early 1990s they’d probably have been lumped in with “casuals” or “Kappas”…

  12. The word ‘ned’ has been in use since the first Christopher Brookmyre novel at least, in the mid-1990s.

  13. That’s interesting. I don’t remember noticing the term, so it must have been familiar to me then – and “Quite Ugly One Morning” definitely came out in 1997 (I remember because I was on my gap year).

    The severed-limb count was a wee bit high for me (I’m irritatingly squeamish) and that’s put me off reading any of this others…

    I don’t suppose Brookmyre coined “ned”, though. I’ll look up the online OED when I get a chance – any students out there with free access?

  14. Being working class is having to take the train to work because Daddy won’t buy you a car.

    But being working class also means you get to complain about it, and declare that it will all be different when you marry Prince William.

  15. What’re you supposed to say instead of “Pardon”? I spent my childhood being told “Don’t say ‘What?’, say ‘Pardon’.” Mind you, maybe it’s different in Ireland. We only evolved from grunting fairly recently.

    Anyway, on a totally different note, I just wanted to tell you that I saw Tom Jones in Vegas last Sunday night and he sang What’s Up Pussycat and I thought of you. And he was totally fab.

  16. Of course, I meant “What’s New, Pussycat.” Bah. What’s up, Doc; what’s new, pussycat. Must get that straight.

  17. “Terribly sorry, I didn’t quite catch that…”

    As a kid I got told off for saying “What?” all the time too, but I had chronic ear problems affecting my hearing, so I said it about every thirty seconds… which I can see might have been a tad annoying.

  18. Ok, so ‘Ned’ means ‘uneducated’ OR ‘Non-educated Delinquent’… Here in Kent (the Land of the Chavs), I heard that Chav stands for ‘Council House And Violent’… can anyone verify that?

    I just want to bear it in mind next time I have to use the expression ‘Pardon, please pass a serviette’.

  19. Sorry, Redlilocks, but the view I’ve heard is that it comes from the Romany and means child.

  20. acb…shame shame shame “the Australian fashion for boasting of one’s convict ancestors and their criminal careers.”

    i don’t think so sweetheart.

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