Thursday, October 15, 2009

Why Jeremy Clarkson is a toff OR Why posh doesn't mean snob

Jeremy Clarkson has written a very funny column (sorry - I know I shouldn't find him funny, but I do) on why appreciating Monty Python marks him out as a toff. The argument basically revolves around the idea that being clever is a toff thing, or rather - that enjoying cleverness is a toff thing. Well...he sort of says that. But then he makes the classic mistake of using 'toff' and 'snob' interchangeably, as if they are one and the same thing - and this is my basic problem. Being a snob is not the same thing as being a toff. There are some frightful snobs who are also toffs - but most people (toffs and non-toffs alike) can't bear them - think they are at best irrelevant, at worst mentally ill. There are hordes of toffs who are not snobs. Noticing what is u and non-u is not actually snobbish - it's simply putting things in a box (not to say that that is any less worse, but it is a different thing.) Plus there are plenty of non-toffs who are terrible snobs: intellectual snobs, arrivistes, aspirationals, the type who send their children to a certain school because someone Royal went there, the ones who won't speak to someone who pronounces 'perfect' like the song, the snobs who are offish with anyone driving a Toyota. That lot can push off.

So Clarkson is a sort of a toff, I think. And probably a bit snobbish, too. But mostly - quite funny.

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