Sunday mornings are my catch up time for all the bits of the papers I’ve not managed to get to yet. Me, the terriers, coffee, bacon sandwiches and the Andrew Marr show. Bliss.
I particularly look for reasons to be cheerful in my reading. However bad things look there is usually something to cheer you up however unintended the cheer might have been. Today has, however, been a bit lean.
The media is still trying to work out why the last quarter’s GDP figures were grim even after you discount the ‘wrong type of weather’. The Arab world is in turmoil. Folks are worried about rising fuel costs, rising food costs and falling pay packets. Our national leaders are busy invoking There Is No Alternative or There Is An Alternative (but we’ll have to get back to you with the detail).
For a soon to be redundant public servant merriment is thin on the ground. Even if you’re not in my position the gloom is pretty unremitting. Nevertheless one item did tickle my fancy.
It was a review in yesterday’s Times of Andrew Neil’s programme on the crowding out of working and middle class children from the rungs of power: Posh and Posher. You may remember I found the programme profoundly depressing. The review however found Neil’s programme profoundly wrong-headed on all counts. Not least in his pessimism about the government’s proposed reforms and their likely non-impact on the lessening of social mobility.
For a TV review there was a surprisingly spirited defence of the government’s plans.
Of course if you know that the reviewer, Sarah Vine, is married to the Secretary of State for Education the political content of the TV review makes sense. It’s a wonderful example in a nutshell of how excluding and exclusive much of our public life now is. Exactly the point Neil was making.
Plebs like us get to look in on what goes on but only from a vantage point outside this rarefied world. Our snotty hooters pressed up against the glass.
The review also contained, for me, a priceless condemnation of Tony Parsons for offering a critique of the impact of the ‘poshification’ of our public life. He did so while apparently sipping tea from – wait for it – an Emma Bridgewater cup. I am advised that Emma Bridgewater is a posh brand of crockery. (Whose products are manufactured in Stoke – good for Stoke, I say)
Now this is a completely new test of competence to me: the Tea Cup test. Presumably Tony Parson’s views would be far more credible if he had been slurping from a chipped enamel mug and wiping his mouth with the back of his hairy, unmanicured, working class mitt?
I’d always dismissed Private Eye’s Me and my spoons column as an out-and-out joke but it suddenly began to dawn on me that it is, in fact, a satire on the Tea Cup test that the ruling elite has secretly imposed on society.
In my new entrepreneurial frame of mind a whole new line of business appears before me. Tea Cup consultant. Here’s my pitch –
Not getting your views across? An object of scorn to decision makers and thought leaders? Punching below your weight and you just don’t know why?
The answer could be as simple as using the wrong type of tea-cup.
Our specially trained consultants can work with you to design your own bespoke tea-cup solution.
Our specially crafted beverage receptacles guarantee you a seat at the top table in the cafe of life.
We also have available a selection of designs based on our work with leading world figures. Choose now from the Mandela, Clinton and Gates ranges – yours for $99.99 (plus P&P).
(Please note we have had to withdraw our popular Berlusconi range after some unfortunate leaks. )
At last something to sell in my eBay shop.
It seems to me to be a very curious world in which drinking from a particular type of cup disqualifies your point of view from having any merit.
While mulling over the review I was taken back to the strong women of my working class childhood. Sitting around the kitchen table forensically dissecting their various menfolk’s faults and foibles as I drove my toy cars around the floor between their slippered feet.
There was an unspoken rule that none of them transgressed. Your own bloke was fair game but woe betide any woman who had the poor sense to join in. ‘He may be an idiot but he’s my idiot, not yours.’ That was the governing principle.
I couldn’t help but wonder whether the strident defence of government education policy in the TV review comes from the same root. Perhaps the rulers and the ruled are not so different afterall?
Excuse me though, I have some tea-cups to design.