The UK's Channel 4
recently ran a poll of the greatest 100 films of all time, as voted for by the viewers. Not surprisingly (and, I should add, deservingly) Trainspotting
came very high in the list, and as suh there was a little mini-junket
with the author of the novel on which the film is based, Irvine Welsh
. One of the strengths of the sotry according to its omniscient creator is the fact that it showed the experiences of "real people", not "a bunch of middle calss wankers".
Oh. Because, you see, middle class people are fictional.
Now, I was born and grew up in rigidly classless societies (the USSR and Israel respectively). However, both my parents are highly educated professionals, I never wanted for anything in my life and am now living in a prosperous suburb of Oxford. I can be safely called middle class.
Conclusion: I don't exist. I am not, according to the Irvine Welsh Orthodoxy (and he's not the only one who holds these views, just the one who happens to have pissed me off this week), a real person.
Not only that, but I am not a real person according to the governement, either. After a year and a half of paying tax at the emergency rate, I am still not entitled to any welfare or housing help from the authorities. They also consistenly call me by my husband's name despite the fact I never took it and that all the documentation they ever received from me identifies me by my own name. While the governement exuberantly adopts the rhetoric of "the needs of real people", this sends the clear message to me that as far as they are concerned, I don't exist.
In a country which is hell bent to preserve it more wasteful and undemocratic traditions (the landed aristocracy) while completely wiping out some of its more productive ones (farming and heavy industry), I wonder - how many other people are not "real people"? The white collar slaves of the City, the elderly living in humble bungalows after a life of service to the economy, the teachers and nurses and miserable office workers subjected to the worst working conditions and the lowest pay in Europe - neither Tony Blair nor that champion of the underbelly, Irvine Welsh, seem to recognise our collective existence. Both the political and artistic establishment seem determined to ignore it.
Imaginary People of the UK Unite! The middle class is the new proletariat. It's here, it's real, and it's the only section of society which is paying its own way (the poor being too poor and the rich too clever), and it deserves its share of respect and recognition.
I for one am done playing the game of humble beginnings one-upmanship. I'm middle class and I'm proud!