Added: Kush Levell - Date: 31.10.2021 09:55 - Views: 30290 - Clicks: 3469
T he rules of discussing class in Britain are, pleasingly, very like those of cricket. Once you know them, they seem incredibly obvious and intuitive and barely worth mentioning; if you don't know them, they are pointlessly, sadistically complicated, their exclusivity almost an exercise in snobbery in its own right.
Nowhere is this more evident and yet more tacit than in relationships: people marry into their own class. It's called "assortative mating". You know this by looking around, yet there's such profound squeamishness about it that research tends to cluster around class proxies. The question goes: "Do you and your spouse share the same educational attainment? Or: "Did you go to the same university?
This trend is immune to social progress elsewhere. If anything, people are more likely than ever to marry into their own class, as a report from the Institute for Public Policy Research showed this year. Even the phrases "marrying up" and "marrying down" are sullying to use. You can't really escape the connotation that the rich are better than the poor. But I use them anyway, putting them in the grammatical equivalent of surgical gloves, because there is no right-on alternative: there's no unsnobbish way to convey a difference in class between two people. The leftwards path is to pretend class doesn't exist.
Which is fine, but it's also total horse manure. So what's it actually like, when you don't mate assortatively? Emily Wyndham married her husband 11 years ago this week. They met at Oxford University. Not anywhere nice — it was in a crap industrial coastal town they forgot to close down. In doing so, they made quite a lot of money — enough to send us to private school — so we were the first generation of our family to go to university. He's always very keenly been aware of his position in life, and always very keenly felt he was working class, and wanted to assimilate himself to become middle class.
He's very class-conscious. He re the Telegraph; he's voted Tory for years and years. Three of my closest friends had been to comps; we were all pretty much lower middle class, all from quite similar backgrounds. She met her future husband while she was having tea with a student from another college.
I think quite early on in our relationship he went off shooting. It was like he'd moved to another world that I hadn't known existed. When we were in our final term, he went to his cousin's birthday and I said, 'That sounds very posh. This is way outside anything I've ever experienced. She met his parents one month into the relationship. I smoked at the time. I'm so embarrassed to think of this now, but I think I smoked between courses and they were appalled.
Generally, I got the impression that I was being looked up and down and found rather wanting. But, in my favour, his sister was going out with someone who was even more low-class than me. They wanted him to marry someone who had grown up around the corner, whose parents they knew and of whom they approved. They attached no value at all to academic prowess. They hadn't heard of my parents, so they weren't interested in me.
And also, I think they just slightly thought that I was a little bit too loud — not the quietly understated, elegant person that would fit into their quietly understated, elegant lifestyle. When Emily introduced her parents to his — at the smart Islington restaurant Granita — that went quite well. My parents were sending out invitations, but they were on their uppers because their business had gone to pot. So they weren't paying, but because they're quite proud, I wanted them to feel like they were still the hosts.
The invitations had to come from them. And there were all these titles, and they'd been told his aged aunt would only open invitations that were correctly addressed. My mum was very much, 'They'll just have to take us as they find us. Emily was 26 when she married. The wedding sounds very stressful: if you're a Catholic and not the Brideshead sort, apparently it's immediately obvious how ill bred you are to people who know about that sort of thing. I wonder why she didn't put it off a bit longer.
I knew at 20 that I didn't want to be with someone I couldn't foresee a future with. And Tom was not that bothered about class — he couldn't have married anybody who was a class warrior, who thought everything he stood for was awful. He had to feel that he could be himself, and he did, and so did I. And what about their four children, ranging in age from 18 months to 10?
In purely class terms, the decision about secondary school will be major. If they go to the state school, they will very obviously be different from their grandparents and even from their parents. I don't want them to grow up feeling completely divorced from their grandparents and their cousins.
Although, of course, they're already divorced from my father's side. Lady Alice Douglas has been with Steve for six years. ly, she was married to Simon, whom she met while he was serving nine years in prison for armed robbery. I don't know if that was a conscious decision, but certainly as I was always utterly devastated if anyone found out I had a title.
It was just this terrible secret. Then, when I started going out with boys, I always preferred working-class boys. Now I live in a little Welsh village that is full of farmers and everyone's pretty working class, and my favourite thing is going to the pub at weekends and hanging out with all the farmers.
I like people who work the land. I guess it's a sense of history, a sense of honesty. It's just life on a more basic level. Her first husband was a Turkish refugee, and that marriage failed because he couldn't stand living in England. He was a typical working-class young lad who had masses of intelligence — he had such a lot to offer, but had failed to do anything beyond the army.
I think that, because of his working-class roots, when he went up for jobs, he didn't really believe he should get them. Probably what class gives you is a belief that you can achieve things. They bonded over playing Macbeth and Lady Macbeth in the prison production, and married while he was still inside. He was five and a half years younger. Most people were cool about it, and I kind of ignored the ones that weren't. I don't know that there were that many differences.
There were funny things — like if I was getting some building work and people were quoting, because I'd got a title and they didn't know me very well, it always seemed it was a bigger quote than if my ex-husband asked. If Simon, my ex, ever tried to negotiate a fee for things like that, people were very dismissive and often rude to him — they'd quibble over 50 quid.
It shows how ingrained it is, that if a person is of a higher class, they're worth more. The couple had two children, now 13 and 12, and split up over the classic things that split parents up, regardless of class: maturity, reliability, who's still in the pub and who isn't. They are just as happy with their grandma on Simon's side on a council estate as they are with my parents. Then she met Steve. Your life is too chaotic, it's too full on, there are too many people and I want a simple life.
Steve agrees with this analysis, pretty much: "It's just so manic here. We're a clash of personalities really. Alice is definitely a go-getter and I'm more laid-back. I was brought up by very working-class parents.
During the s, growing up, there was work for everybody. My father, a maintenance fitter, always instilled in me not to be resentful of the upper classes, or the people bred into money, because they're the ones who create the work. Alice was born into wealth and power, but she'd never use it — she's absolutely down to earth.
Although I do catch her up now and then on her accent. I've looked through every dictionary I can find, and I just can't find any R that would explain her pronunciation of bath.Dating from different social class
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Problems with Dating out of Your Social Class