British Working Class: Romantic Tribe or Sub-Human Chavs?

Seventy-five years ago, the Slavs were being demonised as sub-human. Now, Russian women like Anna Kournikova and Maria Sharapova are considered too beautiful to be used as comparisons by people like John Inverdale.

Sue Townsend on Writing and Class 

English: Maria Sharapova
English: Maria Sharapova (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hi, it’s G.G. Howling, literary correspondent at the Greenygrey, finishing off working-class week at the Greenygrey. My human parallel, J.K. Rowling, is a woman done good from an ordinary background, living as a single mother on benefits before finding success.

While I haven’t heard J.K. talk about class I remember Adrian Mole author Sue Townsend talking about her struggles as a working-class writer; on Melvyn Bragg’s On Class and Culture I think; with her (working) class not really valuing her work, and the upper classes not really interested in a working-class writer.

Marc Latham can relate to this, although he has also had help and made valued connections with people from both the working-class and upper classes.

So, after focusing on the working-class this week, we’ll end it by considering its place amongst other classes and cultures in modern Britain.

Working-Class Between Boris Johnson and Ken Loach 

Yosser Hughes
Yosser Hughes (Photo credit: DNQA)

As this is the Greenygrey, we of course have to consider both sides of the argument. Film-makers like Ken Loach and Alan Bleasdale created realistic but romantic portrayals of the working-class from the 1960s to 1990s, mixing gritty depressing situations with the hope and spirit of people determined not to let the system grind them down.

John Lennon of course sung of this in the Working-Class Hero song.

Noel Clarke.jpg
Noel Clarke

Perhaps these are old hat to the younger multicultural generation, and they relate more to the street stories of Noel Clarke and Ronan Bennett?

The other side of the coin to the romantic – realistic portrayal of the working-class is like that of Boris Johnson, who blames the working-class for not trying hard enough; living instead in a hazy old world self-sympathising stupor.

But even if the working-class try, it’s not always easy. Mass immigration means there’s more competition, which is usually the government or EU’s fault rather than the migrants, and employers are able to hire and fire more easily, as well as offering less work. Zero-hour contracts are the new novelty harking back to Victorian workhouse times.

And work environments aren’t always that nice anyway; or even universities. When Marc Latham tried to work hard at the start of his PhD thesis in university because of financial difficulties he was persecuted as a pushy troublemaker by his first year supervisors!

The Working-Class Green and Grey 

In social terms, the Greenygrey was born between the more green upper classes Marc Latham had mixed with while travelling and in university, and the more grey traditional working-class life portrayed by Loach and Bleasdale Marc related to; although he grew up in a working-class green countryside town.

But, as with everything Greenygrey, the two sides (classes) are not entirely separate, and there are green working-class people and grey upper classes; and Marc Latham similarly thinks green sometimes, and other times grey.

Fire dance
Fire dance (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While in some ways, some times he agrees with Boris Johnson that people should work more, in other ways he thinks that the working-class who don’t work to chase money and materialism are living an ideal life; like Native Americans, African tribal people or Australian aborigines.

But, trying to live a life focused on old ways family and community is precarious in a globalised world, and as the plight of other indigenous people has shown, it’s an almost certainty that they’ll be preyed upon by other cultures and big business.

Leading into Wolf, Wildlife and Environment Week 

Fracking_Food_Farms
Fracking_Food_Farms (Photo credit: Public Herald)

While Jeremy Clarkson’s anti-environmentalism is about as grey as can be, so is usually anathema to Marc, sometimes he does seem to make sense when arguing against policies that are going to have little or no impact on the environment.

While the green of Marc doesn’t like policies that unnecessarily harm the environment, the grey of Marc doesn’t like policies that unnecessarily make life difficult for the poor and vulnerable.

Therefore, he is still open-minded about fracking, which is currently dividing the green and grey worlds. Although in a perfect world it would be nice if it was unnecessary, in the real world green energy can only supply a small fraction of our energy needs; and fracking might make Britain energy rich and reduce bills for the people. Although knowing how the energy companies have profited while raising bills over the last twenty years, we don’t trust them at all.

Eastern wolves at Wolf Science Center, Ernstbr...
Eastern wolves at Wolf Science Center, Ernstbrunn, Lower Austria (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And that leads nicely into the third and final w of the www of the Greenygrey philosophy: wolf. Wolf is the icon for wildlife and environment, and of course also the Greenygrey website.

Although the last couple of weeks have been enjoyable and rewarding, it’ll be a relief to escape into nature and wildlife; writing about women and the working-class can be controversial and divisive, and everybody loves a wolf don’t they…

There’s lots more women, working-class and wolf writing in Marc’s books available at: Smashwords and Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/author/marclatham).

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