April 4th, 2013


Seven Classes

According to a widely publicized piece of research Britain now has seven distinct social classes. I can't see the idea catching on- seven is too many to memorize or keep track of- but it might help explain (as Martin Kettle suggests in the Guardian) why our political system- which is predicated on the existence of only three- is so manifestly unfit for purpose.

The Mail

No, I don't hate the Mail. If I said I did I'd be guilty of hypocrisy. I scan it every day (along with the Guardian, Independent and Telegraph). The web page has some good stuff- photo-galleries and the like. This morning, for instance, there's a excellent feature on the photography of The American Civil War.  If it employs the lamentable Richard Littlejohn it also has the eccentric, brave and wholly admirable Peter Hitchens.

Think of it as a mirror held up to the Ronnie Barker classes.

A Working Class Hero Is Something To Be

I took the test which sorts us out between the seven new classes (a talking hat would be more fun) and it told me I'm "traditional working class". My immediate reaction was "piffle" but then I did some thinking...

For the last half of my current existence I've lived in a working class area and done working class jobs. I'm now a "carer" or- as I prefer to think of it- "a housewife".  To round out the picture my politics are- and always have been- robustly Old Labour (meaning, given the chance, I'd nationalize everything that moves).

My first 30 years- my middle class upbringing, elite education and early employment- no longer apply.  I've been born again. I find this a happy thought.

Art And Pornography

The Tate has retired its Ovendens. It has taken the images off-line and made the originals unavailable to researchers. I'm not really surprised. In the circumstances I'm not sure what else it could have done.

All the same, there's something odd about punishing a work of art for the sins of its maker. While Ovenden was merely under suspicion but technically innocent his pictures were displayed for all to see. As soon as he was found guilty they were taken down and hidden.  They became wicked overnight. One day they were artistically justifiable images of childhood innocence- or whatever the critics said they were; the next day they were porn.

Type "Brotherhood of Ruralists" into Google and see what comes up. There are Ovendens in the mix but the iffiest image on the page- a very young fairy with her kecks off- isn't by Ovenden at all but by his brother Ruralist (and teacher) Peter Blake. Only Blake isn't a paedophile so the picture is entirely blameless, right?