Archive | June 8, 2019

Give me a child until he is seven

I love the 7Up series. I am watching 56Up in preparation for 63Up which will be on TV on Monday night.

Listening to the famous opening – “I’m going to work in Woolworths” and “I read The Financial Times” – I couldn’t help but think of my children, our socio-economic class and a particular incident.

When we first moved to the suburb we still live in, my youngest was ten. He made friends with a neighbour of the same age who lived in our street.

The boy attended a non-government school. One that mimicked English public schools. Blazer in all seasons, even 40° summers. Younger boys wear shorts in all seasons, even 4° mornings. Boaters in summer.

While jumping on our trampoline, I overheard the boy asked The Dreamer what he did for extra-curricular activities. The Dreamer had no idea what he was talking about. (Or if you want to sound like you come from a pompous school – no idea about which he was talking as ending sentences with a preposition is something up with which one cannot put.) Extra-curricular wasn’t a term used at public primary schools. We just had “activities” – chess, sport, choir and the like.

Trying to sound so superior, the neighbour said, “I do fencing.”

The Dreamer replied, “Oh no, my mother wouldn’t let me do anything like that.”

Listening on the verandah, I cracked up. I knew what he was imagining. Why on earth would you do that!

The boy persisted, trying to explain what fencing was.

My son was still perplexed and none the wiser, as he was not really listening – the boy was a continual show-off who had to prove he was better than others.

I loved how this little conversation captured a possible class divide. The boy was trying to show how exclusive were his activities. Yet, my little naive, socially unconscious boy wasn’t impressed. Even if he knew what it was, he couldn’t care less.

And yet…

His parents were renting a run-down little house – we were buying a rather beautiful place. Both The Dreamer’s parents (ie Mr S and me) are left-wing who could afford to send their children to private schools, but never would as a matter of principle. Just as the boy’s parents were sending him to a private school as they believed it showed they were of a “better” class.

The boy was a fat, little, unlikeable thing. Higher class or not.