In an unsurprisingly eye opening affair, I watched ‘How The Other Half Live’ on 4OD; a documentary which sees wealthier families ‘sponsor’ the more financially unfortunate.
I would class my childhood as being distinctly working class. Undoubtedly it was comfortable, and there was enough money for me to have a Sega Megadrive and a few Jurassic Park toys, but still distinctly working class.
I remember going to town with my mum as a kid, probably about 5 or 6, and seeing countless number of children crying uncontrollably because of the fact their parents refused to buy them a pack of football cards or the newest Barbie doll or whatever trends were circling at that time.
My dad’s stereotypically Scottish austerity rubbed off on me at an early age, and I developed an extremely conservative approach to asking for things; one that still remains to this day.
Rather than forcing my parents to buy me little treats as child I ignored the materialistic ideologies that others my age seemed to be falling for, and because I was used to it at a young age it meant I knew no different.
Childhood should be about interacting with friends; learning about the world around you. The fact is that money can’t buy you this, and often does the very opposite.
Admittedly my family may not be ‘seen’ as being working class. My two sisters have obtained degrees through the same university as I’m at now; Lincoln University. And my dad gained an Engineering degree whilst working full time as a forty year old.
Of course, the age old debate over what defines class will rage on, and it certainly raged on in my English A-Level class, where I was adamant that society today simply isn’t capable of holding old fashioned beliefs on class structure.
This documentary did something to me though. On one side I emphasised with the working class single parent and her child, and the struggles they’ve overcome, with the mother putting them in debt so she could gain a Masters certificate in Law. The house seemed very similar to mine; comfortable yet unimposing.
However, I strangely found myself also being able to understand the side of the upper class family who lived in a mansion, a family who were trying desperately to make their obviously very fortunate children learn that life isn’t all about zip wires in the garden and deer the fields.
I, myself, do tend to look down on quite a lot of people in society. In fact, as I was back in Coventry I repeatedly saw groups of young males and thought that I’m superior to them. Not in a way that I’d stick out my chest and point my finger at this ‘working class riff raff’, but in a way that has been subconsciously engrained in my head for a long time now
As it stands at the moment I’m in a lot of student debt, and the only way I will get out of it will be by working countless soul destroying hours at a service station just outside Coventry, one that makes me want to personally rip up every inch of motorway in the British Isles.
Although I haven’t been spoon fed by rich parents I have still been lucky in my life. But whoever you are you will always consider there to be someone much much better off than you and someone much much worse; and that is a very very British trait to have.