A working class hero is something to be*

November 17, 2009 at 9:32 pm | Posted in Blogging about blogging | 15 Comments

Eyup cocker,

Tha won’t believe the bloody palaver I’ve been havin’. It all started a few days ago when some dozy bint were sayin’ summat daft about me & me mates’ workin’ men’s club. I thought “ang on, I’m noravin that!” and I said that folks like her are too young & posh to lecture me on owt, let alone tellin’ me how to run me own bloody bar!

Anyhow, me mates stood up for me & that. Said she were spoilt, vain, weak, vulnerable and basically a bit of a ‘silly cow’. As it ‘appens, I actually had a quiet word wi one or two of ‘em about the language. After all, this is a respectable establishment, and I know how to treat the ladies!

But then she started actin’ like a mardy bum just because some fellas were a bit rough with her. That got me dander right up! I’m like “listen flower, that’s just how us average, salt of the Earth types talk. We dunt go in for any of this ‘politically correct’ fannyin’ about., so take yer fancy words and naggin’ and bugger off to yer knittin circle!”

I told her, I said “its folks like you what turn people off politics”. I said “If tha can’t tell’t difference between an everyday insult which ordinary folk like me use all the time, and a vicious attack on ye tender soul, then yer just not cut out for the big conversations, like what I am!”

I don’t know, women eh?! More trouble than they’re bloody worth!

The above may not be how Marcus acts in real life, but given the hilarious attempt to justify a sexist insult as a statement of working class authenticity, I really wouldn’t be surprised.

It should be admitted, of course, that this is a gross caricature; most working class folk I know wouldn’t condone sexism.

*with apologies to John Lennon. And Bill Owen.

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15 Comments »

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  1. Here Here!

    *Ahem*

    I mean… ‘ere ‘ere, guv’nor

  2. Ah, I never knew you could do method acting as well as blog! ;-)

  3. I’d actually remind most middle-class bloggers of that caricature. Not because my views are the same as his, & in fact I don’t even have the same accent: you’d be able to notice almost instantly that I am from a bit further south. :)

    But I suppose I am offputting to some with working-class mannerisms, & profanity, neither of which I have tried to soften. I figure them as can’t see beyond it to what I am actually saying aren’t worth bothering with, so it’s a good effective filter system!

    PS-
    I actually found that comment thread more pleasant than the average for HP Sauce. Though, admittedly, that’s because the majority are even worse rather than because it posesses any good features of its own.

  4. Aye, I’ve mentioned quite recently about how irritating it is to see so-called working class authenticity invoked as some supposed argument winner. When I argue something, I don’t want anyone to think ‘oh, well he was the first from his family to do to university, so he must be right.’ Equally, I wouldn’t want anyone dismissed solely on the basis that they were personally babysat by the Windsors.

    Laurie’s background had fuck all to do with that piece, but Marcus used it because he had bugger all else to say. Then, upon realising that his line of attack had proved his critics right, he had no recourse but to make the same attack with greater force, cross his fingers and hope for a different outcome. Some weak shit right there.

    What I look for in someone isn’t their background, but their ability to be curious and interested in people from a range of backgrounds and experiences. Now, there’s a good chance that you and me get on because Stoke ain’t too different to Barnsley, but I suspect the main reason is that rather than simply using our backgrounds to make our arguments seem valid, we share experiences which reflect how we look at the world. There’s a big difference to these approaches: one is restrictive & shuts down debate before it’s begun, the other can be used to start a conversation. I try to go for the latter, and rather wish the irritant who prompted this post would learn to do the same.

    Interesting what you say about accents. Apparently, I always sounded too posh for Barnsley and a bit rough for Cambridge, and I think that’s partly why I always had one foot in both worlds, but was never fully immersed in either one.

  5. Yes, that’s one of the oh so many reasons why I hate right-wing journalists, most of whom would never set foot on the estate I grew up on, talking bollocks about “the white working class”. It was exactly this culture, which I was immersed in, that I did my utmost to escape, & which I think I’ve done, by reading if not economically or physically.

    (Or have I? Or do I really want to?)

    You know what I mean, again.

    I always found Lynsey Hanley to be good on this- from an estate outside Birmingham & I think consciously influenced by it to the point of obsession. She is significantly to the left of me. But I appreciate her analysis of lives that are often ignored or pontificated about by fuckwits.

  6. Oh that’s cracking. Misrepresent what Marcus said AND take the piss out the working-class.

    You do have to laugh!

  7. Graham, what a pleasure.

    Because you’re not stupid, you will certainly know that whilst there was a degree of piss-taking in this post, it certainly wasn’t directed at the working class.

    I also suspect you’re attentive enough to notice that the working class is rarely mentioned on HP, and only tends to be cited when a writer gets into such a rhetorical bind that they need to demonstrate some desperate everyman appeal. You might also have noticed that the working class is mentioned so infrequently that on the few occasions where a post recognises their existence, it comes across to the rest of us as an observation culled from a late night cab ride through a ‘rough’ area.

    Much like the latest victim of HP’s hate fest, I’m unfortunate enough to be under the age of 30 and have committed the sin of attending a decent university. But since I’m the first person from my family to go to a university, and since I spent most of my 25 years among working class people in Barnsley, I really need no lessons from you, Marcus or any of the fly-by-night smear-merchants who excuse their rank behaviour with appeals to some perverse interpretation of socialism.

    Tarra

  8. “You might also have noticed that the working class is mentioned so infrequently that on the few occasions where a post recognises their existence, it comes across to the rest of us as an observation culled from a late night cab ride through a ‘rough’ area.”

    Oh come off it! You are talking to someone who is accused of mentioning the working class in every post! (Also someone who has always lived in a “rough area” and is the first member of his family to go to a “good” university.)

    Being under the age of 30 is no excuse for stupidity. As for “smear merchants” you didn’t really read Marcus’ thread did you now? Oh dear.

  9. As for “perverse interpretations of socialism” I’d suggest you cannot beat the one that considers “silly cow” (from a commenter) to be a phrase worthy of hours of finger-wagging whilst a right-winger calling all inner-city dwellers scum on an adjacent thread is totally ignored by right-on worthies such as yourself.

    Socialist my arse.

  10. “There’s a big difference to these approaches: one is restrictive & shuts down debate before it’s begun, the other can be used to start a conversation. I try to go for the latter, and rather wish the irritant who prompted this post would learn to do the same.”

    Good idea. next time Laurie Penny wants to “start a conversation” (rather than self-promote) perhaps you can advise her that accusations of racism are “restrictive and shut down debate”and are likely to be followed by people taking the piss out of her for doing a sub-standard impression of Ben Elton circa 1984.

    Tara

  11. I’ve got to hand it to you, Graham, you’ve got far more stamina than me. I was borderline catatonic when I wrote that comment, and that you could stay up ’til 2am with this shit… well, I want whatever it is you’re taking.

    Anyhow…

    As for “perverse interpretations of socialism” I’d suggest you cannot beat the one that considers “silly cow” (from a commenter) to be a phrase worthy of hours of finger-wagging whilst a right-winger calling all inner-city dwellers scum on an adjacent thread is totally ignored by right-on worthies such as yourself.

    Well, they do say that a blog’s comment content is a reflection on the character of the blog itself. If I had to highlight every comment on HP that I found to be either stupid or offensive, I’d have no time to blog about anything else. So I restrict myself to the people who write for the site, and that’s why I don’t write about HP very often. Personally, if some coward called me a ‘silly cow’, I’d probably feel moved to condemn it as well. I know, I know, I’m one of them ‘right-on worthies’ and it’s ‘political correctness gone mad’, but them’s the breaks.

    Good idea. next time Laurie Penny wants to “start a conversation” (rather than self-promote) perhaps you can advise her that accusations of racism are “restrictive and shut down debate”and are likely to be followed by people taking the piss out of her for doing a sub-standard impression of Ben Elton circa 1984.

    I would, but sadly the reference would be lost on both of us. Back in 1984, I was too busy having my nappy changed. Don’t suppose you’ve got anything more – oh, I don’t know – contemporary to attack her with, do you? I mean, the young, middle class & university-educated angle has been exhausted and your commenters have done the ‘she’s female!’ angle to death, so maybe a cultural reference which is long past it’s sell-by-date is all we’ve got left. Whilst we’re at it, I think it’s only fair to acknowledge that anyone who blogs (yes, even you) is engaged in ‘self-promotion’. It’s a pretty narcissistic endeavour.

    Cheers for stopping by, though there is one thing I’m disappointed by in your four comments: for all the jumping up and down, I still haven’t seen one explanation of why attacking someone twice for lacking working class bona fides is considered mature, responsible and relevant to anything. I’m also curious about why a site which is ostensibly concerned with the ‘big conversations’ feels the need to constantly single individuals out for attack, but I suppose that’s a mystery which’ll never be revealed.

    Tara

    It’s spelt ‘Tarra’, cherub. Why must you take the piss out of the working class?!

  12. Well, they do say that a blog’s comment content is a reflection on the character of the blog itself.

    Yes. best to stick to about three comments a year like your own then you won’t have to worry.

    “Personally, if some coward called me a ’silly cow’, I’d probably feel moved to condemn it as well.”

    Condemn away but try not to fetishise your ego.

    “I know, I know, I’m one of them ‘right-on worthies’ and it’s ‘political correctness gone mad’, but them’s the breaks.”

    You know when someone makes such a fuss about such a small thing and mobilises every last ounce of their student righteousness it really is! Surprising to find a cliche challenged isn’t it? Never mind, you will get used to it as you get more mature.

    “Don’t suppose you’ve got anything more – oh, I don’t know – contemporary to attack her with, do you? ”

    No. Most people have grown out of being self-promoting pseudo-lefties. So it will have to be Ben Elton I’m afraid.

    “I still haven’t seen one explanation of why attacking someone twice for lacking working class bona fides is considered mature, responsible and relevant to anything.”

    Well that is the problem isn’t it. You are hardly likely to see an explanation for something that you have invented. However, you could get a sense of humour then some things might become clearer.

    “It’s spelt ‘Tarra’, cherub. Why must you take the piss out of the working class?!”

    No it isn’t.

  13. “Whilst we’re at it, I think it’s only fair to acknowledge that anyone who blogs (yes, even you) is engaged in ’self-promotion’. It’s a pretty narcissistic endeavour.”

    Actually this is an interesting comment which I think gets to the heart of the difference in outlook between HP and various others. Some at HP may be engaged in “self-promotion” but Marcus certainly isn’t one of them. Speaking personally I am far too aware of how different the internet is from the real world (ALERT: Marcus’ ACTUAL point being restated) to bother with it. However, I suppose that we should always take into account that some people really do think that they are trying to make a name for themselves in a virtual community and flatter their egos accordingly (at least till they wake up.)

    I am rather taken aback by the idea that you have never come across anybody who just blogs for the fun of it though. Narcissism is the last thing you will get on a blog where anything that you post is likely to be attacked straight away from all sides of the political spectrum.

  14. Actually this is an interesting comment which I think gets to the heart of the difference in outlook between HP and various others. Some at HP may be engaged in “self-promotion” but Marcus certainly isn’t one of them. Speaking personally I am far too aware of how different the internet is from the real world (ALERT: Marcus’ ACTUAL point being restated) to bother with it. However, I suppose that we should always take into account that some people really do think that they are trying to make a name for themselves in a virtual community and flatter their egos accordingly (at least till they wake up.)

    Y’know, barely a day goes by when I don’t think “what are people doing reading this shit?” I realise that probably comes across as false modesty, particularly for someone who flogs his wares both here & on Liberal Conspiracy, and even got longlisted for the Orwell Prize. But I am quite happy to recognise that none of this is very important. I’ve only told my closest friends that this blog exists, I’m too happy with the job I’ve got to have designs on a regular spot at Comment Is Free, and I’m actually quite content to have just ‘three comments a year’! This place started because I enjoy writing and because the format of the blog forced me to write regularly. But whilst I think I’m a reasonable writer, I certainly don’t think this stuff is of great import.

    Why should anyone take seriously my writing on foreign policy, poverty, prison, education or the war on drugs? In each of those areas there are going be people whose knowledge is greater and whose insights are more valuable; what do I really have to offer?

    I get around this creeping sense of futility by accepting the inevitability that there’ll be stuff I’ve never thought of, or didn’t know, or have either over-emphasised or simplified. I try to remind myself and others that I’m not a leading light on anything, and try to treat people the same as I would if I met them in real life. Clearly that’s a ludicrously lofty, unattainable goal which misunderstands the difference between written and spoken communication, and it’s also an ambition I frequently fail to fulfill. But I at least aim for it because I get bored with the falseness of online conflict.

    You think I’m immature, a right-on worthie, no kind of socialist and bereft of a sense of humour, but I suspect that if we were to meet in real life, we’d probably get on, or at least be able to communicate without unpleasantness. Equally, there’s a perfectly good chance that I’d get on well with Marcus if I ever met him, and if that were to happen I might be inclined to defend him in the event of criticism. Were Marcus and Laurie ever to meet, I reckon it’d be a lot more amicable than their past exchanges.

    So this, right here, is ultimately of no bloody consequence to anybody. I doubt you’ll even remember the name of this blog in a year from now and if I could concentrate on getting my Proper Work done, I might not even have written all these posts or replied to your comments.

    I guess it’s all just hot air at the end of the day.

  15. “You think I’m immature, a right-on worthie, no kind of socialist and bereft of a sense of humour, but I suspect that if we were to meet in real life, we’d probably get on, or at least be able to communicate without unpleasantness”

    Ah! there speaks a man who has never met me! In truth I am quite impressed by laurie and yourself (although that’s not to say I’m going to agree with you about everything in future!)

    Anyway good luck! And carry on blogging (departs with middle-aged Sid James style laugh in order to prove that his cultural references go back far beyond ben bloody Elton.)


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