The word class is a common word. Have you ever counted the number of times you have heard or spoken it in one day? Neither have I. It is a word used with assurance. We know what we mean when we use it. But like the word traditional, I find it a very slippery term. We can put certain values to the word traditional. It can be a comforting word. Traditional baking. Oooh I can smell it. Traditional sweets made in the old-fashioned way. Then there are other types of tradition. In Victorian times it was traditional for children to go out to work with their parents. The went down coal mines. All those hours of darkness and filth, crawling about over hard rock. Where was the toilet? What if the poor child picking bits of cotton from under the clattering looms had diarrhoea?
Enough! I consider myself working class. But I am entering my sixth decade as middle class. When did I change? Shrugs shoulders whilst muttering a teenage style “duuno.” I shop at Waitrose, have a mortgage, renew the car every three years, go to classical music concerts, have a monthly wine order and like malt whisky. I had piano and cello lessons. In fact I became a piano teacher. Yes, but I went round in a battered old cortina and fixed cars. I would turn up at some pupil’s houses asking to use the bathroom so I could actually clean my hands. “Got any swarfega?” I went to the pub and I lived in Seacombe.
I’m old enough to remember early televisons. They were standing stones. A symphony of polished veneer placed proudly in the corner. There was no such thing as round the clock telly. There would be afternoon shutdowns. It wasn’t a TV society. Over the years, we have seen the development of the real TV society. Now it is merging with the small screens of our smart phones and touch screen pads. One of my uncles told me that every time we watched it, someone at the other end could see into our living room.
They would have seen into the main room of my nan’s council house. There was also a kitchen, a pantry, a coal hole and a bathroom. Although the toilet was part of the house, it had its own outside door. We all slept in one room. Of course, it was a coal fire with one of those funny hanging hooks to turn the hot water on. My dad sprayed cars in Standard Triumph and Mum did a variety of jobs. She was a clever lady my mum. She was brilliant with numbers, could play the piano, make hats and knit for England. But like my dad, she left school early. They met while working at English Electric.
Can you imagine the delight at moving to our very own house? It meant leaving the fields of Fazakerley for the urban jungle of Seacombe. Now we had a parlour. Firstly it housed the train set then a snooker table. We were popular; we had a snooker table. Dad was into making things. He made the fire place for the parlour. With my uncles, they replaced the old sash windows. We didn’t get anyone in. That was too middle class.
We needed the money to feed ourselves and for my mum and dad to enjoy their weekends in the Labour Club. They worked so hard. If you spend forty or more hours working in a factory or office, you deserve to enjoy yourself. Dad always took the over-time. You don’t turn down the chance for money.
Neither did I. Because while I was doing my day job in a primary school, I began to teach the piano for extra money. And what did I do with that extra money? I called in at the local pub to get my fix of adult conversation. After a long day of child talk, I needed to speak to grown-ups. Well that’s my excuse. Now I’ve retired because I have MS. But my telly is big and I watch football. I still come up with ways of saving money. Does that make me working class? Are my roots the defining factor? I know other people have other ideas. We all have valid views and good reasons for them. These are my ramblings. Thank-you for reading.