Whilst innocently sat in a lecture, on Marxism, expecting to be told lots of ‘Marx wasn’t looking for a Utopia’ and ‘Marx thought it would be nice if there were no poor people’ I heard something from the lecturer that made me listen.
“Just being here, in this university, makes you middle class.”
Now, I am not looking to start a debate on whether we live in a classless society, or whether some of us have caviar for dinner and some of us climb out of the mine and tuck into a bowl of gruel.
My first thought was, ‘does it?’ At the time, I had been at University for six months, and coming from a very Northern, working class background myself, experienced a bit of a culture shock in those first few weeks. I found myself picking up the lingo, saying dinner instead of tea to avoid any confusion. I read books instead of watching Coronation Street and ate butternut squash on more than one occasion. But does this make me middle class?
Sat in said lecture, I thought, how can I have been working class for the past twenty years, and now, because I am sat in a room with a desire to learn new things, I am middle class? My parents don’t live in gated communities; have fat pension funds or holiday in the Caribbean. And therefore neither did I.
I don’t deny that my motivation for being at university is to make a better life for myself. I’d like to be able to put money aside for a pension and live in an area where I don’t go to sleep hearing Jeremy Kyle’s most recent guests argue over who ate the last tin of beans and sausage.
But I am proud to be working class. John Lennon once said that “A working class hero is something to be, if you want to be a hero well just follow me.” And I am following John, all the way to a caravan holiday in Skegness.
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