Magazine article The Spectator

Tabloid Crudity

Magazine article The Spectator

Tabloid Crudity

Article excerpt

There are few things more pathetic than chippy proles whingeing about the iniquities of the class system. It's there to be exploited, not to make your life miserable, and anyone who doesn't realise this deserves all the low self-esteem problems they get.

Take John Humphreys, one of several supposed humble folk who could be heard on Class (ITV, Tuesday) complaining how much harder life is if you're not born a toff. Well, excuse me, John, but if you had a title and a fruity voice, I very much doubt that you'd still be presenting the Today programme. It's mellifluous regional accents like yours they want at the BBC these days, not pukka drawls - as poor old Frank Muir discovered re Book at Bedtime.

And Melvyn Bragg, really! Pull yourself together, man! You've made an absolute fortune playing the honest Cumbrian boy turned gritty arts-guru. If that's not class exploitation, I don't know what is. How can you possibly condemn all those aristocrats who, you claim, have cleaned up since 1979 by selling off all their ancestral art treasures? They had no option: they weren't common enough to get cushy jobs in broadcasting.

I suppose there'd be a stronger case for detesting the upper classes if they had much more fun than us ordinary working folk. Quite clearly they don't, though there was a time, I admit, when I subscribed to this myth. I used to leaf through the 'Bystander' pages of Tatler and think, `Gosh. I hope, when I grow up, I too can be photographed at these lavish parties where everyone dresses like Restoration fops and where nubile aristocratic breasts keep popping out of corsets . . .

Then, one day, I turned to a section that had hitherto made me extremely envious. The one marked `Parties of the Year'. Prominent on the list was the launch for Opera Now magazine. All at once the scales fell from my eyes, for, in the course of my duties as a party correspondent, I had attended this particular bash. And been bored rigid.

So, really, people like the noisome wretch from Class War, who proclaimed that he liked nothing better than throwing excrement at posh people, are wasting their time. The upper classes have a grim enough time of it already. The good-uns have to put up with living in huge, draughty, uncomfortable houses which they can maintain only by throwing them open to dreary men-in-suits for conferences; and the bad-uns invariably succumb to heroin. Do they really deserve to be covered in poo as well? …

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