Do stop being an idiot, please

A few years ago, I interviewed Nicola Roberts, the best member of Girls Aloud, to talk about her underrated debut solo album Cinderella’s Eyes. She discussed what it was like to be on Popstars: The Rivals, the TV singing competition that predated The X Factor and gave birth to the band. What stood out most to me was how it felt for her to ricochet between two worlds. She was 16 and split her time between TV studios in London, and hanging out at the chippie in her home town of Runcorn. She remembered being taken to a fancy dinner at an expensive restaurant where none of the girls could understand the menu. She had to ask the head of Universal Records: “What the fuck’s coriander?”

It doesn’t take much to get me on to Girls Aloud, but I thought of that particular anecdote when I saw the State of the Nation report by the Social Mobility Commission this week. Its findings are a sobering confirmation of what is apparent to anyone whose world is not centred on London or the slim area surrounding it. Social divisions are deeply entrenched in British society, and social mobility, this notion that you can be born “disadvantaged” and step outside of such circumstances given the right opportunities, increasingly looks about as achievable as the UK’s chances of walking away from the EU without self-destructing in the process. Alienation and resentment are growing, and for rural, coastal and formerly industrial areas in particular, the outlook is grim.

Good grief, you’re never going to get anywhere if you keep insisting that class in the UK is an economic matter.

We regard plumbers as working class (rightly or wrongly) and lawyers as very middle class indeed. Provincial plumbers make rather more than provincial lawyers. Coriander or not is a social matter, income an economic one. Not grasping this but then wanting to talk about class in Britain just ain’t ever gonna work.

20 comments on “Do stop being an idiot, please

  1. “hereditary privilege”

    If it’s a Good Thing to be plucked from outside the chippy and dumped in Oxford for the summmer by the sutton trust. Then its a good thing for people who have also been to Oxford for the summer (Jeremy Archer?) to arrange and encourage their kids too.

  2. Some uncouth bitch–an ill-educated product of shitty state marx-conditioning–or “education” as they laughingly call it–is ill at home with people who don’t make cunts out of themselves in upmarket restaurants. As if a book or Inet search couldn’t give anybody the rudiments of manners. A bit more effort than is needed than to be given a singing voice by computer–but still doable.

    This leads some stupid Remainiac bitch to complain that statism and socialism have fucked up that other product of freedom and markets– upward mobility. Which is the substance of her complaint even tho’ she is too stupid to know that.

    Stupid Gladrag haghack is even more vile than usual in that she is well-off, jumped-up-to-middle-class, cultural Marxist, NON-London Bubble Remainiac scum. Tho’ she likely adds her presence to the Smoke’s general pollution now of course.

    If you want better social climbing end state education and allow markets to operate everywhere. Don’t come offering what caused the problem as if it were a solution. Classic socialist evil.

  3. Don’t get this. Young girl from Runcorn being feted in an expensive restaurant by the head of Universal Records. How much more social mobility do you want, FFS!

  4. …one of the key markers of the class divide is confidence – if you’re born into an advantaged background, confidence practically comes home with you from the hospital; otherwise, you have to learn it as carefully as you would a musical instrument.

    Confident children generally have stable two-parent families that encourage their children to learn and develop. Good schooling also helps. The middle-classes are quite good at providing these things, but many working class families are too – or were.

    In my experience, upwardly mobile folk who had unsatisfactory or unstable family backgrounds are much more likely to be chippy, resentful and left-wing than those upwardly mobile folk who came from stable, loving families.

  5. Nicola Roberts is from a perfectly respectable family. She may we’ll have been unfamiliar with coriander aged 16 but I doubt it. She probably felt obliged to exaggerate her working class background for the idiot Londoners interviewing her.

  6. She may we’ll (sic) have been unfamiliar with coriander aged 16 but I doubt it.

    More familiar, possibly, with seeing it on her plate rather than seeing it in the menu. I suppose that an Indian takeaway (essentially classless in UK?) is just as likely to have oodles of the stuff in Runcorn as it is elsewhere.

    Hell, “garlic and coriander naan” is ubiquitous.

  7. Where else but in the guardian could “coriander” be the basis for an argument about anything at all?

  8. @Theophrastus: Confident children generally have stable two-parent families that encourage their children to learn and develop

    This is key and yet somehow taboo for the left to acknowledge. The kids at my school, and the school my mum worked at, that were the most misbehaved and the furthest behind were single parent households. When I went to Cambridge for uni barely anyone grew up in single parent households. And yet they, being left-wing, all firmly believe there is nothing detrimental at all about being raised by a single mother.

  9. @Mal,

    When only 2 or 3% of 18 year olds went to do a degree, there weren’t any dyslexics, kids with behavioural problems, disabled people or even those who had had a serious injury – the system weeded them out on the way. I only ever met one person older than me in my profession who couldn’t spell, and he had been to an expensive school, got to and through Cambridge on the back of it.

  10. Well, I just found out that if you type “Nicola Roberts Girls Aloud” into yahoo image search you get an absolute shit ton of pornography.

  11. “She probably felt obliged to exaggerate her working class background for the idiot Londoners interviewing her.” Four Yorkshiremen.

    I’ve found I can use many a little idiosyncrasy to tease Southerners. “I went to school in clogs, you know”: perfectly true but the fun lies in what they will infer from it.

    As ever, I bid the English working class a cheery “Get off your fucking knees.”

  12. Years ago I was round someone’s house and we were playing one of those word based board games, Scattergories I think. And one lad, from the most disadvantaged upbringing you could imagine, came up with the word fenugreek. Which none of the rest of us, including privately educated me, had ever heard of (it was 20 years ago). He’d seen it on a curry house menu of course……..

  13. “Well, I just found out that if you type “Nicola Roberts Girls Aloud” into yahoo image search you get an absolute shit ton of pornography.”

    Like Jimmers,did the same thing. And got precisely zilch. Except this was on yahoo.fr where I have a freemail account. Can’t help wondering if that’s telling me something about the french & what.
    Any ideas TimN?

  14. “disadvantaged” and “advantaged” are not the same as “working class” and “middle class”. My and my sisters’ biggest advantage was our father’s character, way ahead of his intellect or his income.
    My working class friends were not “disadvantaged” in the sense that they were prevented by their environment from bettering themselves [that is almost by definition – they wold not have been able to be friends with a bright middle-class boy if they were]. They were not all Oxbridge (at least one left school at 15 rather than stay on for a year to take CSE) but they all thought for themselves.

  15. The album is good and she is an absolute star, speaking as a musician myself. If anyone doubts this then please watch YouTube of her singing ‘Im so excited’ and winning her place in GA at a very young age.

    She can dance and sing simultaneously, a *very* rare skill. And ginger girls rule too IMHO.

  16. this notion that you can be born “disadvantaged” and step outside of such circumstances given the right opportunities, increasingly looks about as achievable as the UK’s chances of walking away from the EU without self-destructing in the process.

    So extremely easily achievable then?

  17. Problem here is Runcorn. You think you know shite UK towns but Runcorn is special even amongst those.

    Imagine a melting pot where the worst fuckwits from Liverpool and Manchester are sent to live – Runcorn.

    The only green thing they’ll have seen is the pot in their ciggies.

  18. The real problem is lack of intellectual curiosity, and that can be inculcated given the right encouragement and environment. Not knowing something is fine. Knowing you don’t know something and not caring is not fine. And there are levels of knowing. Like knowing there’s a thing called fenugreek, and knowing that fenugreek is methi in Indian cooking, and that you can use a dollop of maple syrup if it’s absolutely unavailable (like it is here). Or that the Yanks call coriander cilantro, unless it’s the seed, in which case it’s still coriander, and that the distaste some people have for it appears to be genetic, and more specifically a haplotype.

    But if you unload all that unbidden then people think you’re a bit Aspergery, so best not to.

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