England Remains a Country Schizophrenically Obsessed With Class
Despite the outrage over Digby Jones’s comments, class snobbery is a huge part of daily life in Britain.
It was George Bernard Shaw who said that it is impossible for an Englishman to open his mouth without another Englishman despising him. Certainly, that was the backdrop to the comments which came from the erstwhile governor of the Confederation of British Industry — Digby Jones — a few weeks ago.
Jones came under fire for his tweets about Alex Scott’s inability to properly pronounce her words during the recently concluded Olympics. His comments were a throw back to a time and place, when the air waves were ruled by clipped upper class tones a la Richard Dimbleby and there wasn’t a pleb in sight with any ideas above his or her station.
For those who don’t know too much about the English class system, I have taken the liberty of attaching the most iconic comedy sketch by Britain’s most formidable comedic talents.
In this short memorable video, John Cleese, best known for Fawlty towers, explains why he turns up his nose at Ronnie Barker, who is middle class, who by extension, looks down on Ronnie Corbett for being working class.
As hilarious as the comedy sketch was, being from the lower end of the spectrum was no joke, at all. If you were working class in the 18th and 19th centuries, you were condemned to a life of poor education, poor health and above all else, a life of servitude. Spare a thought for those who were made to work in factories, from the ages of 13 or young adolescent girls who had to work as prostitutes, in the 1800s.
Social mobility didn’t really become a thing until the education act of 1944 was passed, which enabled a generation of working class people, of whom Digby Jones was one, to attend grammar schools and to aspire to a life…