Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Class Conscious: When I Said I Was Having My Leg off, They Stopped Talking about House Prices

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Class Conscious: When I Said I Was Having My Leg off, They Stopped Talking about House Prices

Article excerpt

It's been a very class-conscious week, as usual. On Monday, I bought a small bottle of light ale in a pub and the barman assumed I would drink it straight from the neck, just as if I was somebody in IT and it was a bottle of "Bud". How culturally blind can you be?

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

On Tuesday, while riding my bike on Marylebone High Street, a man in a gold-coloured Bentley parped his horn at me as I crossed a junction slightly too slowly for his liking. Later, I rode past a bus stop where six people were waiting, all looking wistfully in the direction from which, in an ideal world, the bus might shortly appear.

The conjunction of these events made me nostalgic for the days when there were still quite a few communists about, and I began to wonder what the few remaining ones would make of the widespread use of the word "team" in the workplace.

"Hi, my name is Chris," said a card I picked up at a West End Pret A Manger this week. "I'm the manager of this branch. My team and I meet every morning to discuss the comments you've made ..."

The word is everywhere. "If I and the on-board team can be of any help, please don't hesitate to ask." "Please look after our team by not smoking at the bar."

And don't newsreaders now say, "Good night from me and the rest of the team"? These are teams only if all the people involved have equal status within the organisation, and I doubt they do. The word is presumably used to borrow some of the glamour attached to sport and, above all, to make people feel guilty if they complain about their working conditions--and I will have no truck with it.

On Thursday, we went to a dinner party and, as usual, I reminded the wife in severe tones as we knocked on the door, "Remember, no discussion of property or our children's education." The door was opened; the hostess said, "Hi, how are you? …

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