Yesterday, somebody called me posh and I was absolutely outraged.
Firstly, it’s probably important to note that this is the first time that this has happened to me and is likely to be the only time. By anyone’s standards, I am not posh. I’m from a single-parent family, I live in a rented house in the sort of area that gives Liverpool a bad name and I have a habit of speaking in bad in English. Most tellingly, I can’t say Shih Tzu without swearing (see How to speak proper English.). Secondly, I have nothing against posh people. Some of my favourite people in the world are posh. Why, then, am I so defensive?
Put simply, on paper I sound a bit posh. I went to private school from 3-18, I went to Oxford University and my hobbies sound desperately pretentious. I don’t talk like I used to either – my accent has been neutralised by my education, to the point that whenever I’m making a serious point or trying to explain something clearly, this unrecognisable sound comes out of my mouth; At best, it’s generic northern. And I really hate it.
I’m fiercely proud of who I am – I love Liverpool more than it is healthy for anyone to love a city (more on this another time), and I’m proud of my background. I’m proud of the pretentious sounding bits too though. I went to private schools because they were Catholic, not because they were private, I went to Oxford because it was the best place that I could go, and I like art and music and poetry because they fuel my soul. Equally, my house is pretty nice, I have an uncle who is better than any dad, and I genuinely think that widespread use of ‘yous’ would be an improvement to the English language.
So, I don’t have a chip on my shoulder about being working class; I’d be as annoyed if someone called me rough. That probably won’t happen though, because for some reason it’s not okay to ‘accuse’ somebody of being less posh than you, even though accusations the other way do just as much to perpetuate class division. No, my objection is to people who judge me based on a part of me, not the whole.
That’s why I’m so defensive about not being posh – primarily because I’m not, but I don’t really fit into another bracket either. And that’s fine by me.