Everything is about class, isn’t it…?
by Pseud O'Nym
They say that travel broadens the mind.
Well that’s certainly true in my case, as a few days ago I travelled to Chichester to see a play, and discovered yet more things to befoul my eyes and cause general botheration.
It seems that what I consider 1st Class to be and what Southern Railways consider 1st Class to be differ wildly. I’m not fool enough to delude myself into thinking it was going to be the sort of 1st Class that Hercule Poirot would not find out of place, but even though my hopes weren’t high, they sunk when I saw what I’d paid for. 1st Class consisted of a cover on the headrest with ‘First Class’ emblazoned on it. That was it. If there was any difference in the amount of legroom, or the comfort of the seats, or something, anything to set it apart from Standard class and therefore justify the premium paid, it was imperceptible.
I know that for some of your reading this, the very idea of their being any class system of whatever hue has no place whatsoever in a modern society, especially one that can be purchased. And I would agree with you, any class system is as outdated as it is divisive…but, and there is a but. My socialist principles – and those that know me may laugh at the very notion of me having any principles whatsoever – suddenly disappear in a Standard Class train carriage.
People using the free minutes that the mobile ‘phone tariff gives them declaiming loudly, at length and within earshot, and as soon as one candidate for brain cancer has finished, another one who been biding their time starts. Or people who when finished doing the above bray loudly to an equally annoying companion about something I find tedious yet for some wholly inexplicable reason they find to be a source of inexhaustible discussion. Children, whose parents imagine themselves to be the sort of parents who don’t agree with what they see as the rigid orthodoxy of well mannered children which also just happens by good fortune to allow them to abdicate responsibility when it suits them. The fruit of their loins isn’t rotten; no it’s just ripening differently. Other people, it seems to me, are better with the volume turned off.
And there was no refreshment available on the train either, so that when we got to Chichester, we repaired at once to the tea-rooms at the Cathedral – the look of other places wasn’t right for some unexplained but nonetheless self-explanatory reason – and had some tea. Well I write tea, inasmuch as it was to tea what homeopathy is to medicine, a poor imitation that costs more. If the tea was bad – and it was – then it was as nothing to what was befouling my nose. I’ve never smelt old ladies perfume before, but if I had of done, the person behind me would have bought those memories flooding back. It was how I imagine Barbara Cartland would smell, a cloyingly sickly smell, one that all the subtlety of a punch in the face.
Incidentally, the play was excellent.