YOU just have to look at them with their smug faces and creamy complexions or catch their clipped vowels to feel a little shudder of dislike for the posh folk.
Everyone does, don't they? Benedict Cumberbatch, the actor, thinks so. He said in an interview earlier this week that he has been considering leaving the UK because he is fed up being criticised for his privileged background. Harrow-educated, Cumberbatch said he is considering moving to America because he is so weary at "all the posh-bashing that goes on", making reference to his private education.
"It's just so predictable ... so domestic, and so dumb," he said. What a posh thing to say.
He's right, though, there is an automatic dislike of the posh. Growing up in Coatbridge I was bullied for being "posh". Posh by Lanarkshire standards didn't mean privately educated. It meant not having a local accent, doing your homework and having a mum who took you to the ballet. I came to quite relish the insult, I saw it as a compliment. I remember quite clearly my primary five teacher telling the class that if any of us ever earned a degree we should come back and tell her, before adding: "I won't be seeing any of you again." With that kind of anti- aspirational ethos just having a shot at academic achievement was enough to raise suspicions: posh is as posh is perceived. You can see, in that kind of environment, where even the teachers' expectations are as low as their soles, suspected poshness would garner dislike. That kind of posh-bashing is inverted snobbery and sad for all concerned.
The problem is you can be posh and good. You can be posh and be thoroughly lovely. Or you can be posh and be a buffoon, such as Boris Johnson. Or you can be posh and be a banker, a trust fund-funded waster or a member of the present Coalition Government. It is the latter who spring to mind when one thinks of the word "posh" and they are the ones criticised in the way Cumberbatch laments – the privileged.
Will Cumberbatch have registered the impact of the unfair and unequal system that sails one child off into the world, backed by parents who have bought them a selective education either directly or by moving to the right catchment area, who will provide them with music tuition and extra-curricular activities, whose grandparents may have gazed at their wrinkled newborn faces in wonder and uttered the words: "We'll cover the school fees".
Meanwhile, the other scratches around in an environment where ends are scrimped and pinched just to meet, whose schools do their best and, frankly, that's all that can be asked of them.
Young 'uns across the country are absorbing their recent exam results and deciding on next steps. We hear again this year how increasingly difficult it is for young people to secure university places given the rise and rise of attainment at Higher level. Old boys and girls who go on to run banks and governments, rarely have to worry about such things. Their places are a right, they are trained to believe, and they continue sailing through the world onwards and ever onwords into jobs, security and money.
I can't feel sorry for Cumberbatch. The posh are bashed by a bit of scorn. The working class and the poor are bashed by benefit cuts, job losses, under-resourced state schools, closing libraries and NHS cutbacks. The posh are bashed because of justified frustration at the state of things.
I'll tell you why the Americans don't mind your sort, Benedict: because they don't understand the context surrounding you. And I'll tell you what else – they're welcome to you and your privileged whining.
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