Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Town vs Country

I've just been phoned by a fellow journo to get quoted in a piece he's doing for the Sunday Times - part of which is about why country people hate townies. We covered houses (townies pushed up all the prices, importing poncy architects and interior designers), village life (non existent when half the houses are owned by townies who are only there a few days a month), wardrobes (townies are the only ones to be spotted wearing Barbours and Hunter wellies - country people wear trainers and lumberjack shirts) and county rivalry (similar to postcode shorthand in London).

The one thing we didn't mention - class. Perhaps because when two quite posh journos are discussing a piece for Sunday Times Style mag about the trials and tribulations of being a Snotty Hill townie with a pad in Dorset, there is a basic assumption of lower-upper-classness. But actually, I know that this particular journo, while he hobnobs with all the poshos, he doesn't consider himself at heart to be One Of Them. (Actually he tells a funny story about staying with Bryan Ferry when he was married to the very posh Lucy, which illustrates how posh people in the country always disappear after lunch and you have to awkwardly find something to do totally on your own for hours until they re-emerge in an outlandish outfit demanding a game of tennis.)

Or maybe because there's a certain assumption that all of the countryside is basically quite posh (untrue - apart from the fact that they do posh things like hunting, shooting and fishing), and that townies who go there are posh.

Or maybe........just maybe.......(tiny hopeful voice)......class isn't uppermost in our minds anymore.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Stuck for an answer

How rude can I be despite/in spite of my supposed poshness? I was invited to a dinner party last week and the hostess put out place cards with our names written on, even though there were only seven of us there. Two days after the party, I received in the post an 'At home' invitation card - obviously, it was late and also, it was a bit much for just a small supper party. These things are a bit non-U but she was American, so I think the rules are different. They are vastly more mannered and polite across the pond. Plus I was rude to her brother and had to apologise the next day. So I think, frankly, had she served up toe jam and asked us to hold hands and sing hymns before the starter, I'd have to concede that her manners were better than mine.

In this instance - was I posh, or not?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Posh or not?

Here are some of the old-fashioned posh or not tests...

How do you pour tea? Milk in first - not posh. Tea first - posh

Do you use fish knives? Yes - not posh. No - posh.

What do you call that bit of cloth on your lap at supper? Napkin - posh. Serviette - not posh.

How do you pronounce 'perfect'? As in the song ("It's got to beeee....") - not posh. 'Perfickt' - posh.

What do you call that lovely smelly stuff you spray on your wrists? Perfume - not posh. Scent - posh.

What do you look in to check your lipstick? Looking-glass - posh. Mirror - not posh.

How do you pronounce 'portrait'? Por-trayt - not posh. Portrit - posh.

....All of which rather assumes that poshness is about pronounciation and the use of some archaic nouns. Is this really the case? To be discussed.

Monday, September 14, 2009

What does 'posh' mean?

Before going further with this blog, I need to address the question of what posh is. Port-out-starboard-home is one theory for the origin of the word, indicating the side of the ship the First Class passengers sat on as they voyaged to Trump Tower. And as First Class in them days (ie Titanic) meant people with money and the only people with money then were people with class, then for years, posh meant rich and upper class.

In the 21st century, having sold off all their big houses, paid enormous death duties and lost a few elder sons to drugs and insurance scams, most posh people aren't rich. At least, money cannot be a defining factor in their poshness. Which also means that poshness cannot be about size of house or location because some of them can only afford a bedsit in Fulham. I think a posh person prefers to live somewhere tiny but smart than huge but degenerate but it isn't a general rule. It probably is true that there still aren't many posh people in council flats.

So does it mean class?

But class is itself a rather moveable feast, with plenty claiming to have hauled themselves up by their father's bootstraps from working to middle class. And it is generally agreed that in three generations a family can move from middle to upper class (because of a peerage or because the rich-but-unposh bloke married the poor-but-posh bird and sent their kids and their grandkids to public school).

Hmmm. Public school (which means Eton and Harrow and not fee-paying schools generally for reasons I can't quite fathom but might have something to do with fags and boaters). So could posh be about educashun? Emphatically not - the posh were barely educated until the 1980s. The poshest women I know were positively refused access to school and the boys would spend their time either playing cricket or beating off advances from the music tutors. It's better now but that's to do with civilization not the posh.

Is it about voting Tory? No. The best posh people were proper bohemians from the 1940s onwards and advocated fighting in Spanish civil wars, living in a commune and inviting drunk hobos to live in a shed at end of their garden. In other words, they voted Lib Dem, if they voted at all. Or they just voted for peace, man.

Why am I posh, then? I was brought up in Deptford in a terraced house by left-wing hippies. I went to a private school (not public, note), but only because I've got a hearing problem and couldn't hear the teacher in the trendy open-plan classrooms of the local state school. I work for a living and am about as far from rich as a windfall apple from the top of the tree. Yet if you met me, you would call me posh. Why?

Coming up next - the posh or not quiz.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

"Would you mind taking your shoes off?"

Yes! I mind terribly. (I really mind in airport security queues but even more so in houses). It is distinctly un-posh to not let your guests keep their shoes on because you are worried about slightly marking your laminate flooring. Also, posh people have terrible feet with no nail polish. The whole thing is just ghastly. The fact that my LK Bennett boots once caused permanent damage to a £20,000 floor is really neither here nor there, quite frankly.

Still, this morning, I acquiesced. But only because I'd had my bath this morning.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Tom's Kitchen

Had a meeting this morning with two very posh birds who are sisters (one lives in Switzerland, the other has a permanent blonde quiff). We were due to meet in Tom's Kitchen (posh breakfast place in Chelsea Green) but the meeting was slightly delayed because they were house sitting for their mother in Eaton Square and the mother's dog had to be rushed to the vet because – and this is the reply I got when I asked – it was "just very old". One sister was insistent that they put the dog down there and then despite the fact that the dog's owner, their mum, was away. This is a totally posh response to an animal crisis. I was very impressed. We then had mint tea and croissants.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

How to join the RAF

A very simple test.

Ask your candidate to say the following words after you have spelled them out.



Then ask him to say all three words in one go.


"Air-hair-lair to you too! Welcome to the RAF."

Posh Bird in London

There's nothing special about being a posh bird in London. I'm so posh, I could be posh anywhere. In fact, for years, I was posh in Deptford. If you can be posh there, you can be posh in...Catford. I'm serious, I have the ability to be posh in Lewisham.

Anyway, now I'm posh in Snotty Hill, which you would think was very easy. But actually, it's a lot harder - because too many people in these parts think they are posh, when they're not. And they're constantly pushing their posh credentials on to you and you just want to point out that the very fact they feel the need to wear pearls while out jogging/dress their nanny in a uniform/marry a man called Rupert means that they're not really posh at all.

I'll be blogging on this type of trial and tribulation as the weeks go by....not to mention posh spotting, posh etiquette, posh voices, modern posh, posh people, too posh to push and David Beckham.