Creativity in the Black Country?
I watched Melvyn Bragg on Class and Culture and he seemed to be suggesting that the class barriers have been broken down. Like hell they have! He did feature Sue Townsend, who wrote the Adrian Mole books. I don’t think she has betrayed her working class culture, even though she has become a little middle class; she has made some money.
The programme also went to Sutton Manor Colliery to check out a sculpture that is supposed to be a memorial to the colliery and the miners. The sculpture was the work of someone who was an outsider and was called ‘Dream’ and it was done by a Catalan artist; no less. Well, they wouldn’t have some rough ex-miner knocking something out, would they? It important to keep jobs for the boys, even though this guy was a foreigner. It’s better to be a foreigner with an exotic name than be named Smith and be a redundant miner. One of the guys that was interviewed, said that there was some opposition to the sculpture, but now people say, “I love it, it’s beautiful”. Yeah, I can imagine big butch ex-miners saying, “I love it, it’s beautiful”. They say stuff like that all the time!
I have this problem because the Black Country is predominantly working class which means getting your hands dirty. Anyone who is creative in the Black Country must be gay! In fact the past few years it seems that it’s not only fashionable to be gay but desirable. It is less fashionable to be creative, a writer or an artist. If you are, there are people who will think you have ideas above your station. Young men who fancy themselves as the next ‘Billy Elliot’ and want to learn ballet tend to keep their heads down!
I sent in a funny short story to the BBC a couple of years ago when they invited submissions. The submission had to be printed out, double spaced and all that and posted in, rather than emailed. I got a bloody parking ticket getting some foolscap envelopes to send it in and then I am sure it wasn’t even considered. I read a blog a little later by the editor of BBC comedy and she, being middle class of course, said she only really considered ’well known writers’. No wonder they only get crap written by celebrities. I read the short story that won a prize, it was about a guy urinating on his doorstep.
I read an article this morning, by some obviously middle class writer, about how to save money by making your own ‘posh’ sandwiches. It seems people are paying £50 a week to buy sandwiches and they could save money by making their own; pure genius! Working class people wouldn’t even consider paying £10 for a sandwich and a drink. My young friend paid over £2 the other day in Morrison’s and I thought that was too much! The middle classes have always lived in another world and many working class people aspire to that. Maggie Thatcher destroyed British Industry and mining and divided the working classes by making them property owners. They also succumbed to the temptation to buy shares in the major utilities and look what happened to them. Most energy companies have foreign owners as a result. The Thatcher government robbed the people by selling off the family silver, Gordon Brown sold off the gold and now there is nothing left; they just print money! This is the middle classes and the upper class running the country; they know better than the working classes. They deserve to live in luxury, get obscene bonuses and have umpteen holidays overseas a year. The working classes just get the blame when something goes wrong and also tend to pick up the bill.
I am glad to say that at least working class writers here in the Black Country are making an effort and struggling against the prejudices of the middle class. It is hard to get published if you don’t have a posh name or the right post code. It is difficult to be a writer and not betray your class too; but I see signs of success.
Am I working class? Nah, I’m just classy! There are more amazing blogs on the Home Page.
- Black Country humour (mike10613.wordpress.com)
- Victorian legacies (mike10613.wordpress.com)
- The Black Country – be proud of it (mike10613.wordpress.com)
- The Post Code lottery (mike10613.wordpress.com)
- The Black Country inferiority complex (mike10613.wordpress.com)
- Black Country and proud? (emmawalkerwolves.wordpress.com)
- Neglected women writers: this is a class issue (guardian.co.uk)