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SARAH VINE: New kitchen island or tattoos, it’s sheer class either way 

UK News

As a leading light of the contemporary art scene, Grayson Perry —Turner Prize-winner, potter and cross-dresser extraordinaire — is no stranger to controversy.

In fact, it’s fair to say he thrives on it. This time, however, it’s possible he may have bitten off slightly more than he can chew.

Talking with Twiggy about ‘cultural conditioning’ on her podcast, Perry got on to the subject of class. The working classes, he said, spend their money very differently from the middle classes. When it comes to taste, they tend to like very different things.

As a leading light of the contemporary art scene, Grayson Perry —Turner Prize-winner, potter and cross-dresser extraordinaire — is no stranger to controversy

As a leading light of the contemporary art scene, Grayson Perry —Turner Prize-winner, potter and cross-dresser extraordinaire — is no stranger to controversy

‘A traditional working-class person wants you to notice every damn penny they’ve spent,’ explained Perry on the podcast Tea With Twiggy. ‘And it’s going to be on gold and high-tech things.

‘They want to spend it on their clothes, on their car, on their hair, make-up, tattoos. Things you can see out in the world.’

By contrast, he explained, the middle classes spend most of their money on their houses, and leave ‘their curtains open’ so that passers-by can admire what a ‘lovely kitchen island they’ve got’.

Predictably, the armies of the professionally offended have rounded on poor Perry, accusing him of all sorts of terrible stereotyping and prejudice.

I listened to the podcast, and it was actually rather interesting: two genuine working-class people (as opposed to the pretend types we’re so used to hearing from these days) who obviously don’t give two hoots what anyone thinks about them, discussing everything from PG Tips to posh dinner parties.

But we live in an age when everything is taken out of context, and sensitivities are such that openness and honesty matter less than political correctness. This is a great shame, because it means we have so few interesting conversations.

The truth is: Perry is right. Class is a huge determiner of how a person spends their cash. What’s really interesting, though, is why.

Both he and Twiggy belong to that 1960s and 1970s generation where being working class was rather cool. And it still is, which is why so many posh people (embarrassingly) spend so much time pretending to be from the wrong side of the tracks.

Talking with Twiggy about 'cultural conditioning' on her podcast, Perry got on to the subject of class

Talking with Twiggy about ‘cultural conditioning’ on her podcast, Perry got on to the subject of class 

But for many, the reality of being working-class means being stuck in menial, poorly paid work with very few prospects. Feeling that people are looking down on you and judging you. And wanting to show the world that you are just as good as the rest, if not better.

The middle classes don’t have this problem. No one criticises our lifestyle or suggests we might be getting above our station for wanting our kids to go to university or for shopping at Waitrose. These things are expected. We have absolute confidence in our status, and no need to prove it to anybody.

In fact, the middle or upper classes will often deliberately downplay the outward signs of success. They will drive ancient, beaten-up cars and dress deliberately shabbily. That’s because that frayed shirt collar or moth-eaten old jumper does not, to them, represent any kind of threat.

If they wanted new clothes, they could easily afford them; it’s just that appearance doesn’t matter so much because their status is not a source of anxiety. They don’t have to wear their confidence on their backs; to them it’s like a second skin.

But if you’re working class, a frayed collar or a hole in your shoe represents something far more tangible. It is the prospect of failure, forever snapping at your heels. That is why showing the world your success is so important: it helps make it real, both to yourself and to others.

Acknowledging this is not an insult to either party. Perry is not being a snob or a bigot. He’s just recognising the differences that still exist in society today — and having, unlike so many, the courage to admit them.

Carrie speaks her mind, but she’s no Lady Macbeth

I try to stay out of the soap opera that is No 10 these days (been there, done that, found better ways of destroying my sanity), but I can’t just stand by.

I really don’t know Carrie Symonds at all (contrary to the nonsense that is occasionally printed); but I do know something about what happens to female partners of politicians when they dare to express an opinion about anything other than flower arranging.

I really don't know Carrie Symonds at all (contrary to the nonsense that is occasionally printed); but I do know something about what happens to female partners of politicians when they dare to express an opinion about anything other than flower arranging

I really don’t know Carrie Symonds at all (contrary to the nonsense that is occasionally printed); but I do know something about what happens to female partners of politicians when they dare to express an opinion about anything other than flower arranging

And it quite honestly beggars belief that in this day and age there are still only two narratives: Stepford Wife or Lady Macbeth. The idea that Carrie Symonds is the latter simply because she occasionally has the odd idea or suggestion is absurd.

The PM — like every one of his predecessors — has all kinds of advisers, male and female, colleagues and friends, elected and unelected. Whom he chooses to heed is up to him.

Just because Carrie speaks her mind does not make Boris her poodle, even if reports are true that she has groomed his lockdown hair.

Awful as it must have been to be on board that United Airlines flight from Colorado to Honolulu, what amazed me even more than the terrifying footage of the blazing engine was the fact that the pilots managed to bring the aircraft down safely with all 231 passengers unharmed. 

All part of the job, I guess, but still, astonishing — and an example of the kind of everyday heroism we all take for granted.

Tom’s close-knit family

British Olympic diver Tom Daley is the latest celebrity to take up knitting during lockdown, posting various colourful creations — which even extend to swimming trunks — on his Instagram account, while using his two-year-old son, Robbie, as a mini clothes-horse (right).

Funny, isn’t it, how all these things our grandmothers thought of as chores — not just knitting, but also sewing, baking and cleaning — have become fashionable lifestyle choices for the younger generation?

Not me. I don’t have the patience (or the eyesight) for knitting, sadly.

British Olympic diver Tom Daley is the latest celebrity to take up knitting during lockdown

British Olympic diver Tom Daley is the latest celebrity to take up knitting during lockdown

Plus I am ever mindful of the crocheted bathing costume I was given around age ten, courtesy of my great aunt Nancy, a prodigy with needles.

Lovely when dry, bit of a shocker in the water — and definitely not something you’d want to show the Olympic Committee!

Reality of clockdown

Where do you stand on the timetable for lifting the lockdown?

I’m just grateful that there is any kind of end in sight, even if it’s much further away than I would have liked.

But I am surprised that a fifth of the public believe the roadmap is too fast.

I can only assume these are the people who have been largely financially unaffected by the lockdown, that is to say those whose jobs, income and pensions are not reliant on the real economy.

The rest of the country — small businesses, the hospitality industry, the self-employed, those on zero-hours contracts — are not so insulated.

For them, a few days either way will make the difference between getting out in one piece — and going under once and for all.

Not very much that the Duchess of Sussex does is left to chance, so what could she possibly mean by choosing a £2,500 Oscar de La Renta dress embroidered with lemons for her first appearance since THAT pregnancy appointment? 

How does the saying go? When life gives you lemons . . . make lemonade. Looks like she and Harry are going to squeeze every last drop out of this one.

Not very much that the Duchess of Sussex does is left to chance, so what could she possibly mean by choosing a £2,500 Oscar de La Renta dress embroidered with lemons for her first appearance since THAT pregnancy appointment?

Not very much that the Duchess of Sussex does is left to chance, so what could she possibly mean by choosing a £2,500 Oscar de La Renta dress embroidered with lemons for her first appearance since THAT pregnancy appointment?

Scientists have discovered that people with children perceive the passage of time faster than those without.

Asked how quickly the past decade had gone by, parents were significantly more likely to say ‘fast’ or ‘very fast’ compared with non-parents. Quite why this is is not entirely clear — but it’s undeniably true.

It seems only yesterday that my two were adorable bundles, and now they’re hulking great teenagers (still occasionally adorable, but you know what I mean). Guess it’s true what they say: time really does fly when you’re having fun. Either that, or it could just be all the gin!

DailyMail Online


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