Class! Pay attention.

It's true, that to gain perspective on something, you have to leave it. I really had forgotten how much the British class system provides an infrastructure in this country. Picking up a textbook on teaching English here, lo, there's a whole chapter on how you deal with the issues of regional pronounciation and, well, dialect. "Her, what lives round my road, is a mingin' bitch". Is it wrong? Is it my place to say so? God knows, but jeez it tells us so much about the world someone comes from, the way they speak. And that's only the start of it. Clothes, interiors, gardens, food, cars, telly. They're all convenient shorthand, or cultural signfiers that charter the social landscape in this wonderfully rich, diverse nation.

Of course we know all this. But what is interesting, is how the significance of these signposts varies for different people. Would any self-deprecating middle-class (which of course they would never admit to being) Brit wear a shell suit, put nets up in the window, buy pizzas from Iceland, drive a souped up Fiesta or admit to watching Emmerdale? No, but dressing their children in mini Boden, fresh flowers on the sill of an open window, quality local produce, an Audi and indulging in toe-curling property programmes are far more likely to describe this world. Thing is, they're the only people who are likely to give a toss, or even notice. Which begs the question, over whom does the class system in Britain really have the greatest control?

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