British class system

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“The British are in a class of their own, old bean”

~ Noel Coward on British Class

“It is simply one's inner self shining through that gives one class”

~ Jade Goody on Class

It's all a matter of stature

The British class system is complex. So complex that even the British don't understand it, and will spend days debating just which class they, and their ancestors, are in. But the most important thing to remember about the British class system is that it doesn't matter. I mean, my parents were working class, salt of the earth, pulled themselves up by their Jock Straps, made a mint, but still put roast boots on the table every Sunday lunch. I was the first in my family to go to play school, learnt what knives and forks are for (and that stabbing at the table is generally disapproved of), and now I have a print of the Mona Lisa and everything. I even know the meaning of "touché", and that you have to put a little hatty thing on it to spell it right. So obviously I am Middle Class. Not that it matters. Of course.

Lower Class

Don't look, don't make eye contact, and maybe he won't be there

Like the untouchables in India, the British Lower Class doesn't exist. But if they did exist, they would include the homeless, prostitutes, beggars, and Paris Hilton. Sometimes it takes considerable effort to remember that they don't exist, especially in large cities where there are a lot of the bastards. Looking the other way sometimes works, but crossing the street may be necessary at times. In extreme cases it may be necessary to put a bag over your head to avoid any members of this class who might be around. This technique can be particularly useful if they have their hands stretched out towards you in an embarrassing and conscience-tweaking way.

Working Class

The Working Class used to be all those that worked for a living rather than sponging off the parents or inheriting vast amounts of dosh. Now, the Working Class are the only class that don't work. Instead they have the unusual career of "being on the dole". They are generally represented by the poor peasant scum of the lower classes and can never hope to succeed in life, in fact many people feel that flogging peasants for the enjoyment of the upper classes is to be encouraged A skilled member of the Working Class can make many thousands of pounds a year, simply by sponging off the government. Essential skills in this class include producing children as quickly as possible (see vast, subsidised breeding system: the welfare state, preferably by several different unknown fathers (bonus points for this if you are a man). It's also helpful to be able to fake disabilities, either in yourself or in your children. Crime is an acceptable alternative career choice for a respectable Working Class Brit, but only if you are not too successful at it. This generally results in the government taking on all your living costs and relocating you to one of the several luxury hotels they run for this purpose.

Lower-Middle Class

The class just oozes from every fold. The curtains are pretty classy too

The Lower-Middle Class are probably the most terrified of all the classes. They are petrified someone will find out they're not as Lower-Middle Class as everyone thinks. To this end, they take great pride in appearances, making sure that their doilies are pressed and their leopard print lycra carefully displayed under numerous gold chains. Somehow, people in this class manage to take elements from the lives of those above them, and change them from elegant statements of refinement and decorum into pure essence of pretentiousness and bad taste. And so they have elaborate curtain swags and tails in a one bedroom semi in Basingstoke, and monogrammed garden gates in the middle of a bungalow estate in Clacton. Even the brass-plated garden statues look embarrassed to be in proximity to such vulgarity. These are people who will install a fountain in the middle of their living room, because "it's good Feng shui".

The key to understanding the Lower-Middle Class, is that they believe that they are the true Middle Class and that anyone with more monogrammed gates and curtain swags must be Upper Class. When in fact, the Lower-Middle Class are just Working Class people who have accidentally got a job.

Middle-Middle Class

What was once simply called the "Middle Class", is now known as the "Middle-Middle Class". This group no longer has its own identity and heritage, but is now sandwiched between the two new groups of Upper and Lower Middle Class (obviously that's "sandwiched" with the crusts cut off, sliced into triangles, and with the proper sized cup of tea available - milk in first.) The Middle-Middle Class retains its aura of weary patience, owning of Ford Mondeos and its insistence on Doing The Right Thing, even when that thing is pointless and outdated.

All Middle-Middle Class people live in Surrey, causing a problem of over-population there which is such a shame because its such its such a nice neighbourhood, and a serious shortage of ironing ladies. The dangerous terrain of Surrey means that they need to drive four by fours in order to ensure Felicity gets safely to ballet classes, and little Tobias to his Bright Baby Group. Middle-Middle Class people know that these are the important things in life. The up-coming generation is the future. Although, admittedly, that future will be just as pointless and outdated as the present.

Education actually counts for a lot less than you might otherwise think in the middle-middle class. Literacy is measured by the amount of outrage expressed whilst reading a copy of the Daily Mail. Productivity is measured in the amount of other sections, sub-sections, micro-sub-sections, sub-micro-sections and sub-micro-sub-micro-sub-sections of society that are "threatening" what the middle-middle class refer to as "the traditional British way of life" (referring to the aspirational existence shown in repeats of Jeeves & Wooster.)

Upper-Middle Class

Here you will find all those that have made their fortunes in the new egalitarian world that is Great Britain. Coming from all walks of life, they have worked and scrimped and saved, innovated and enterprised, to rise above their humble beginnings and gain the coveted status of Rich Git. Once there, they can attempt to ingratiate themselves into the high-society despite still being relatively "rough at the edges". Of course, they are still plebs, so can't be seen in proper Upper Class society... except in those special situations where their money is welcomed into high class events to be given a better home with those more needy (see "Upper Class").

These are the types that often take a Jet-set holiday to a remote location, and quite recently, have learned to feel guilty about it and so usually try to do their bit in the way of something called Carbon offsetting. Basically, that just means "paying to do what the hell you want", so really is no change from how things have always worked. The other thing they do because they care so much about the planet apparently is go and drive in their Land Rovers to buy air-freighted organic food from Waitrose.

Upper Class

As long as one keeps one's lip stiff, and resolve stiffer, then everything will be just dandy

The British Upper Class is not just a class - it is in fact a distinct species. Homo superior can be distinguished from the regular Homo sapiens by their stiff upper lips, wobbly chins, and strange distorted accents. The species has existed in Britain for thousands of years, and in that time not one drop of Homo superior blood has mixed with the lower classes. Any indications to the contrary are simply illusions. As any Upper Class person knows, such a liaison would not only be distasteful, it would also be physically impossible. We do not talk about Edward VIII.

Sadly, Homo superior's inability to breed with the lower classes has lead to a decline in the species' genetic pool. Generations of matching cousin with cousin, Miss Faultleroy-Jones with Mr Jones-Faultleroy, and the Duke of Gloucester with a horse, has resulted in a weakening of the species and inevitable distortions in mind and body. So the average Upper Class Brit has a wild tendency towards drunkenness, silly hats, over inflated egos, and implausibly large estates (see The Bullingdon).

The latter may give the impression that the Upper Class is rich. In fact, they are very rich. Houses of 42 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms take a lot of maintaining, especially when one has the London house, the country "cottage" (34 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms) and the larger part of Hampshire to worry about too. And of course none of this can be sold, it's one's heritage! Which leaves our Homo superior with the impression that he is god and the lower class scum are stupid badger like creatures that work on ones estate under cover of darkness in order to escape the customary daytime floggings. However, some upper class people are quite poor, and their various Upper Classes strategies to support themselves are as follows. Selling off the local peasants and foreign tourists for export is one useful strategy, and the bounties of the New World can also be drawn on with "Charity" balls and tours of the "homeland" (OK, so "Smith" isn't quite "Hampton-Smyth", but it's close enough for the Yanks). Selling off the antiques is unthinkable, but sadly it's so well tried that estates up and down the country are furnished only with priceless works of art and a beanbag. But for those really in desperate need of help to keep body and soul together, there's always the Civil List.

History Class

The History Class is dull. Dull, dull, dull. I can't express the dullness of their dullitivity. I mean these are people who invented dullness, with their long dull conversations that just go on and on and on, and their dull little jobs, and their dull little children. Except there are no children in this class. Children are too interesting and lively to be part of the History Class. No, everyone in the History Class is exactly 68 years old. The most dull age to be, three years past retirement but not yet senile enough to laugh at. They are born 68 and they die 68. Which is dull. God, I don't even think I can write about this class any more. With their jobs in accountancy or shelf stacking, and their little houses with neat little fences on dull estates with lots of other identical little houses with neat little fences on dull estates. What an existence. We are supposed to learn from history, but all I learned was that flannel trousers and check jackets do not go well with open-toed sandals.

Class of '69

Just wait until you see what she can do with that kettle

The Class of '69 are the true power in Britain today. Forget the Upper Class, who think they rule the country. Forget the Middle Class, whose wives think they run the country. Forget the History Class, oh God please, forget the History Class. The True Power in Britain comes from sex.

The Class of 69 are not just the Middle Class swingers they appear to be at first glance. That 50-something year old woman in a provocative brassiere and skirt so short it could be a belt may look harmless, but she has the power to rule the world. And how can this strangely disturbing but provocative figure do that? Scandal. The force that runs the country. A politician feels safe within the arms of a sexy but reassuringly mature woman. Safe enough to express himself in the way that feels right for him... although probably not for the kangaroo, or indeed the egg beater. And once she has him in just the right position, he is hers. And so is the Ministry of Education and the Committee for Internal Affairs. That's the real truth of the British class system. That it's run by middle-aged women with leather bras and an innate skill with a pair of chopsticks and two condoms.

Not that it matters of course.

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