It was a good summer for my family. Dear old Dad is up for a promotion, Mum’s taken a brave leap into a new career, my younger brother is going to medical school and, well, I’ve not dropped out of university (yet), so my parents decided to splash out and crack open some champers (Moët, since you asked). However, Dad nearly managed to ruin the whole evening: he wasn’t bothering to tilt the glasses, and he was letting foam go everywhere. Thank god I was there to intervene! But, instead of saying thank you, Dad just snapped, “You really are a posh knobhead, aren’t you, Arch?”
This is, of course, something I have vehemently denied since coming to university. After all, I’m from the north of England, went to state school, and honestly think that a £3 pint is bloody expensive – qualities I assumed would keep me far away from the ranks of the posh. In this way I managed to convince myself that, whilst there was no way I could never be a man of people, I wasn’t some annoying posho, either. There’s no arse in grass, after all.
However, after Dad essentially shouted J’accuse! at me, I began to reconsider my own circumstances, and my self-made veneer of normality began to slip away rather quickly. Whilst I can play up my Mancunian roots all I like, I always seem to conveniently forget to mention that I live near the footballers. Yes, my family didn’t pay for my education, but not many state schools have an entrance exam, only admit boys, or teach their students Greek and Latin. And fine, I like to complain about the price of pints, but that’s probably just because I’m a grumpy old git that likes to complain. I always end up buying seven of them, regardless of the price.
And so, it hit me. I really am a posh knobhead. I’d suddenly become something I’d consistently denied being for years, and this jarred me to my very soul, and, I’ll admit, prompted a little crisis of identity. Who even was I, anymore? Did I have to start pronouncing the imaginary “r” in “bath”? Did I need to start having life-changing experiences in Bali every summer? Would I need to get my Barbour surgically attached to my skin?
As it turns out, I needn’t have worried, as I was apparently the last person to find out I’m insufferably posh. Both my friends and wider family were very quick to disabuse me of any notion of commonness. Going to watch the RSC perform Julius Caesar by myself tipped everyone off, it seems. And so, whilst I was initially wary (I’m not sure ‘posh’ has ever been deployed as a compliment) admitting who and what I was to myself has actually been extremely liberating.
It’s opened up a whole new raft of friends, for example. No longer will I have to nervously whisper “so where did you summer?” to any new acquaintances, making sure that I don’t get caught speaking such high treason by any Muggles that happen to be around. If I want to bomb through a bottle of nice scotch with a friend, I now have plenty more people that will not only happily oblige me, but won’t ask “if it tastes like Jack Daniel’s.” And, you know what, I like it when people compliment my cufflinks. (And yes, it’s happened.) They were a lovely present for my 21st, thank you for noticing.
The fact of the matter is, I enjoy a nice glass of champagne (poured properly, Dad), reading challenging books, and the odd black-tie event. I play the piano when I can, I think museums are (sometimes) very interesting, and I even own some tweed. I also like to think I speak the Queen’s English, even if it’s with a northern twang. It’s no use hiding from who you are and what you enjoy and, even though most people find these things anathema, I don’t particularly care – even if it makes me, as my brother put it, “well posh, mate.”
However, I’m worried that there are still far too many posh knobheads that fear their true selves; people that kowtow to the tyranny of the norm and deny themselves the Nirvana that I have achieved. You’re doing yourselves no favours, Comrades – we poshos have nothing to lose but the chains that bind us and forbid ourselves from being who we really are. We have a world to win, Ladies and Gents. I’ll see you down at the range.