I was feeling almost positive, yesterday – actually, take that back, it was the day before at 6pm – as I wrote about a decent human being on my Seriously Good! page. That was, then. Sad to say, there’s a waiting list accumulating for my Seriously?! page so, apologies if that which follows would seem an overspill …
Looking through my little red book of handwritten notes, there are several entries apropos the word ‘posh’. Please believe me when I say I try to ignore its use but there are limits. It makes me so angry! Used freely – and, most often without retort – it is meant as an insult and used as such. Why, then, is it acceptable?
Google ‘posh’ and the noun is denoted as ‘the quality of being elegant, stylish or upper class’. No insult there, then. Wrong. In today’s climate – certainly in this country where the majority seem hellbent on bringing everything, and everyone, down to the lowest denominator – apparently, it is a crime to be ‘elegant, stylish or upper class’. Translated, that means it is a crime to speak the Queen’s English, to have been educated privately and to holiday anywhere other than the Canary Islands! Subject to the automatic assumption that all three derive as a result of being born with a silver spoon in one’s mouth – that is, gifted rather than worked for – anyone guilty of any one of the aforementioned (and, God forbid, all three) is to be labelled (and, preferably ‘taken down’!). Enough. Completely unacceptable.
I have been subjected to such taunts all my life, largely because of my accent – or lack of. Educated privately, I shall make no apology for that. Rather, I shall be forever grateful for the sacrifices my parents made for that privilege. Note the two key words in juxtaposition: ‘sacrifices’ and ‘privilege’. Never is it taken into account that they might be interlinked!
That being said, why should anyone be criticised for endeavouring to better him/herself? The ability to string a sentence together devoid of incessant four-letter words; to string a sentence together without the inane use of the word ‘like’; actually, just the mere ability to enunciate words properly ensuring intelligible conversation should be applauded and, most definitely, not maligned.
To what – or whom – do I attribute this most recent rattling of my cage? Well, Janet Street-Porter for one! Loose Women is a gift for her, feeding both her ego and her mis-placed (or feigned) superiority. Most on the panel are wary of their dominant colleague who boasts of her humble background and her numerous marriages. An intelligent, independent, successful woman, granted, but, for all that, the chip remains. While she would dare anyone to deride her origins, her use of the word ‘posh’, as a collective insult, is prolific. The most recent example occurred in a discussion as to whether the consumption of food should be banned at the cinema. Yes!! Anyway, Janet was insistent that the problem lay at the door of posh people, at which point, I grabbed my notebook and missed her ‘reasoning’! All I heard was something about unwrapping individual chocolates – Bendicks, I hope! Surprised she didn’t complain about the butlers who accompany these upper class numpties for the sole purpose of pouring their G&Ts!
Of course, I dare to differ. Could you imagine she and I on the same panel?! In my experience, those who wolf their way through the enormous tubs of popcorn, the family bags of crisps and fizzy drinks – and, on one occasion, burgers and chips – are anything but posh, determinedly paying no heed to those around them. Can you imagine my friend, Hugh, turning up at the cinema with a carryout? Goggles, yes, but … A family bag of Revels and a large glass of wine are all that suffice.
I happened to be watching First Dates the other night – for research purposes, obviously. Once, quite a fun programme and a viable concept, it now seems, primarily, hellbent on showcasing the LGBTQ community. (Phew! Whoops, forgot the ‘+’). It would seem, too, that – despite the restaurant being in the shadow of St Paul’s Cathedral – posh is pretty much off the menu. So it was that one lovely hopeful made her preferences very clear: ‘No matter how fit he was, if he was posh, I wouldn’t fancy him!’. Intelligent. Discerning. More happy viewers!
Let’s just imagine, for argument’s sake, that one replaced the word ‘posh’ in that sentence with the word ‘common’ … Google the word ‘common’ and the definition, in this case, is given as: ‘showing a lack of taste and refinement supposedly typical of the lower classes; vulgar.’ An insult, then, as with the deliverance of ‘posh’. Switch the two, however, and there would be an uproar! One rule for one; one rule for another. The injustice that is life. Thing is, the snap judgement/insult, serves only to reveal the insecurity of he who delivers.
I am reminded of Spencer Matthews: he of the brother-in-law to Pippa Middleton – less attractive, wannabe sister of Kate – and Made in Chelsea fame? Well, not a huge fan but I have never forgotten his clever retort when, on Loose Women (where else?), Nadia asked him whether he was offended by her referring to him as posh Spencer. “No”, was his reply “but how would you feel if I referred to you as common Nadia?” Touché!
The aristocracy is the only group which it is still acceptable to mock … Apparently, there is an article in the latest Tatler – by author, Daisy Waugh (grand-daughter of Evelyn Waugh) – in which she dares to write words to that effect. Must buy it! It so needs to be said but, ironically, manners and etiquette ensure those who have every reason to ‘fight their corner’, instead, refrain. Therein lies the root of so much. Posh? Nobody should feel – or be made to feel – ashamed of their origins and nobody has the right to cast judgement on another person based on accent or appearance alone. Forget jealousies and insecurities. Does anybody have the right to assume someone else’s backstory?
What, is the jay more precious than the lark
Because his feathers are more beautiful?
Or is the adder better than the eel
Because his painted skin contents the eye?’
The Taming of the Shrew, William Shakespeare.
This is Trish, signing off.