A few weeks ago I read an article about the class system in Britain. It basically said that historically a persons social class was dictated pretty much by their wealth, but now it's more about ones attitudes and the way we choose to live our lives - consequently the divisions have become decidedly indistinct.
This makes it harder to define oneself in terms of class, but I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing.
For my own part, if asked, I would probably pigeon hole myself as lower-middle-class. I have middle class attitudes but lack the funding for the big detached house and the new Mercedes.
But it really isn't as simple as that, and here's a few reasons why.
Yesterday I bought a couple of clothing items from Peacocks in Ely, and upon leaving the shop my overwhelming concern was that nobody should see the shop name on the bag because I was worried that any number of complete strangers might see that I'd shopped there rather than somewhere a bit more upmarket.
It's the same thing with supermarkets - as though there's a kind of hierarchy and you only feel comfortable using the ones at your own perceived social level. Indeed, as grocery shopping is without doubt one of the most awful tasks that has to be endured, it's surprising that as yet nobody has rewritten Dante's Inferno with each circle of hell assigned to a particular supermarket.
I suppose somewhere like Harrods would be pretty near the top, but as we descended through Waitrose, Sainsbury's, Tesco, Asda etc, where would we end up? I suspect it would be a tie between Iceland and Netto, because they're both places I've been in the past and now refuse to go in no matter what. I worry that if I went in I might come out wearing a baggy tracksuit, chain smoking cheap cigarettes, and swearing loudly and indiscriminately whilst scraping away frantically at a lottery scratchcard.
The supermarket may be chosen on the basis of where you feel comfortable, but that still leaves the question of which products find their way into the trolley. Most of the time I don't give it much thought beyond a subtle combination of value for money and how much I like a particular brand. Occasionally there's something that goes beyond that. If Pot Noodles are on offer, I might put a couple in the trolley because despite being full of rubbish I have to admit I do enjoy one as a snack once in a while. The trouble then is finding other things to pile on top of them so that the casual observer won't spot them in my trolley peeking out between the Chablis and the oyster mushrooms.
I have no idea why I think this way in these situations, as most of the time I believe that I feel comfortable just being who I am and not really caring what others think, but on reflection I wonder if I'm just lying to myself.
It's entirely possible that the worst aspect of having a broken leg was being out in public wearing baggy tracksuit bottoms because they were the only thing that would go over the leg brace. Oh, the shame and embarrassment... I know I spend most of my life living in jeans and T-shirt but there are limits.
I have this idea that if I was to wear whatever clothes I wanted, I'd be going around in a long black leather coat, white laced front shirt, black trousers and a pair of New Rock boots. Very much along the lines of the average 90's Goth I suppose, but however much I tell myself how cool it would be to look that way, there's that nagging little voice at the back of my head telling me "Don't be daft - you're a middle aged bloke with no hair, you'd look a total tit and people will point and laugh", and it's probably true. If I really didn't care what people thought I'd do it anyway, but in reality I'm just a boring old conformist.
Maybe when I retire I'll move to Whitby (the goth capital of England) and finally take my intended place as the eccentric old bloke who really DOESN'T care what others think any more. A walking blend of Gothic culture and Victor Meldrew.
New Rock M1471. One day.....