Grayson Perry is a Classy Laddy

Channel 4 is doing these documentaries about taste, presented by Grayson Perry called ‘In the Best Possible Taste’. The first have been about the working class and the middle class. I acknowledge I am middle class, people call me middle class and I don’t have much opinion on it because I don’t really care what class a person is (but I suppose that’s a middle class thing?) I have been annoyed at certain assumptions that have been made about me by dear friends simply because they see me as middle class, because, for me, I don’t like reinforcing divides in that way and being told that because of my class that I am a certain way or my life has been a certain way etc.

My Mum is working class, my Dad is middle class, and I’m somewhere in between – but leaning more towards middle class (especially as through the years my house has got bigger as we’ve moved as a family, and I’ve been to university). Perry himself states education is the pathway to upward mobility.

He revealed that two thirds of us are now say we’re middle class, as opposed to 25 years ago when two thirds identified themselves as working class. In terms of working class tastes… I have so many ornaments and emblems of memories that I have to put some in boxes now, much to my dismay. Another aspect would be the idea of dressing up, being “glamourous” and wearing bright colours… but I have a feeling this is where I start to go into the middle class zone.

One of the main things that I got from the working class part was that the taste you had was to show you were part of a group. Maybe it is a middle class notion, but I would have thought it was more of a Western concept, that I value independence. I like to think for myself, and I like it when others can do the same. Nothing makes me cringe more than people who follow and copy each other and can’t stand to be separated. However, I think this says that we are far more complicated than our class. Although I value independence, I   am increasingly seeing the importance of interdependence and have written a piece about that here from Zukuri UnLtd.

Now, on to the middle class part of the series. I like cakes. I HATE Range Rovers. Generally, I’m not a fan of brands. If I like a brand, I’m very selective… Adidas, Cath Kidson and Chanel (the latter of which I can’t afford). Without realising it, that selection says a lot about me and my class. As does the tagine on the table in the documentary. I would probably have one for my kitchen when I’m older.

On the programme they say that the middle class originates from merchants, being self-made – and that kind of goes with the idea of being an entrepreneur. It’s the ‘class that doesn’t know it’s place… they’ve struggled and got where they are’ etc. Within the middle class there are different types it seems. I wonder what type I am. The idea of ‘vintage’ obviously appeals to me. Though people mock and resist the idea, and try to cling on to working class roots, me and a fair few of my friends would fit in with the indie/hipster/scene/vintage/retro labels. ‘Bestowing our individuality’. This song by Say Anything shows the contradiction here perfectly.

Perhaps I am neither class, because I am “a creative”. One woman that features in the middle class part of the series states that Perry still has the ‘unkempt hair of a creative’ which is very much like myself. No matter how doll-like my face is made-up to be, my hair will not be tamed. Or, maybe my desire to be an individual, as opposed to part of a group, just highlights how middle class I am. As Perry says, the middle class are the class most aware of their choices and that is both a blessing and a curse. Though I don’t identify with the upper middle class, I feel like I don’t fit with the lower middle class… so am I the middle middle class? Or do I not fit anywhere until I am an adult existing on my own, without the comfort of my parental home? And, then, what makes one middle class – education, speech, manner, money, taste, or what?

middle class taste: cupcake ornaments, Soap & Glory, faux-Retro signage, Adidas, Converse, vintage clothes, hats and festival wristbands…all on a bed (literally) of Cath Kidson duvet. And a mask.

I didn’t feel I had much to say about upper class taste. The idea of being “appropriate” and putting on a “uniform” could not be more opposed to me. However, the more quirky people and those that defied their ancestors were more my cup of tea. That kind of bohemian spirit that my Dad says I have, like my Gran. And the way I believe that Converse should always be worn dirty. However, these people seem to have more in common with the middle class, with a desire to be individual, rather than just one in a pack.

Well, interesting stuff. Perhaps I should end with something more poetry-related. Don’t worry, my next post is due to be all about poetry. Though I hope to get back to this and view the tapestries he’s made one day. Anyway, here’s a poem to end it on, which I actually wrote before this programme but it kind of deals with similar themes.

ʔ

You’ll analyse my glottal stop,
my gloʔal stop, my glottal
stop. You’ll analyse my punctuation,
vocab and my polka-dots.

You’ll look at my lips,
look at my eyes, the mic
stand between
my two thighs.

You’ll see the content,
and the form, as I
read to you, as I perform.

You’ll look inside
each word I say, see how
the d and o do play.

You’ll hear each letter,
each diction choice, each y-o-u
inside my voice.

You’ll analyse my glottal stop,
my gloʔal stop, my glottal
stop. You’ll analyse my punctuation,
vocab and my polka-dots.

xxx

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About carminamasoliver

I'm an ex-UEA writer from South London. Founder of She Grrrowls. Feminist Arts Writer for The Norwich Radical. BAR poet. Published by Nasty Little Press.
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