Sunday, 26 February 2017

Posh gits

I may have a posh accent, but I'm not remotely posh in any other respect. I may seem "posh" to those who have very little, but my lifestyle is quite unremarkable beside the real thing.

I may own my house and my car, have some savings, and live in a sedate residential area, but that doesn't make me in any way posh. There are thousands of people just like that.

I think the essence of poshness is rarity value (or luxury). The truly posh have things the vast majority of us don't have. A country mansion, a yacht, a chauffeur-driven limo, a private jet. Things the average person can only dream of (that is, if we really want a draughty old mansion or a condescending chauffeur).

The other ingredient of poshness is a "fancy" way of doing things. Soup spoons, fish forks, napkins. Bow ties, cuff links, top hats. Ornate invitations and letters. Always something more than the bog-standard routine. Something that sets you apart from the common crowd.

Not necessarily sophisticated though. You can be as posh as you like in terms of lifestyle, but dumb as they come when any hard thinking is required. The term "upper-class twit" comes to mind.

Poshness often goes hand in hand with pretentiousness. People think that because they're posh they're somehow a cut above the non-posh, somehow in some rarified category of their own.

That absolutely doesn't wash in Northern Ireland. It's very refreshing that people here despise any kind of pretentiousness. Anyone who acts superior is very quickly cut down to size. As we say here, they're "losing the run of themselves".

You can talk to a chief executive as casually as the refuse collector. You could be with someone who's filthy rich but they'd show no sign of it. People aren't as obsessed with social status as they are elsewhere.

"Pomposhity" will get you nowhere.

26 comments:

Bijoux said...

My husband has had business with a number of CEO's and executives over the years. The majority are very down to earth, probably because they were not born into those circumstances. They might have vacation homes, but no chauffeurs, personal assistants, etc. That seems reserved for the Hollywood set.

John Gray said...

You have a posh accent? Bloody hell...........thats a turn up

Rummuser said...

Thanks but no thanks. I would rather be a country bumpkin than be called a posh or a toff!

helen devries said...

A lawyer friend was explaining to me that in Costa Rica 'respectable' used to mean someone with money. Now that has been turned on its head...if you have money you are deemed to have acquired it by means of dodgy dealings or unearned privilege.

We have posh here - living in expensive houses in gated communities to avoid the taint of contact with ordinary people - but in general, society is refreshingly egalitarian.
Go to a party with friends and you will find judges, lawyers, architects, taxi drivers, farmers, farm hands, meter readers and the inevitable black sheep - all members of the same family.

Nick said...

Bijoux: That's good to know. I think it makes a big difference whether you were born into a privileged background or whether you had to work your way up and you know how the other half lives.

Ramana: Me too. Not that I've ever lived in the country. The NI term for country bumpkins, btw, is culchies. Needless to say, there are various rival versions for where the word comes from.

Nick said...

John: I was brought up in a London suburb and I went to a public school. So the posh accent was pretty inevitable.

Helen: It's much the same here, I think, wealth is now automatically linked to shady practices of some kind. We have plenty of gated communities too. Good to know social status isn't a big deal in your community either.

Jenny Woolf said...

The truly posh and aristocratic are not usually full of themselves, and also often live in quite considerable discomfort. I always think it's the ones who are one rung down from the top and desperate to be taken as the "real thing" who overdo it.

Dave Martin said...

Most posh people I've met have been fine, but anyone who has the attitude of being 'better' than me pisses me off.
I'll treat everyone the same regardless of how rich or poor they are - personality makes a far bigger difference.

Ms Scarlet said...

It's the nouveau riche who can sometimes verge on pretentious and condescending. Take 'em as I find 'em, can't really generalise.
Sx

Nick said...

Jenny: I think you're quite right that it's the ones who've only recently taken a few steps up the ladder who tend to be more pretentious than the well-established "old money".

Dave: There's nothing more infuriating than someone who obviously thinks they're better than you, but with absolutely nothing to justify it.

Nick said...

Scarlet: The nouveau riche can be a right pain in the arse. But as you say, you can't generalise. I remember meeting Tony Benn and despite his very high-faluting background, he was utterly charming.

Hattie said...

Well, Brits do tie themselves in knots about class. In America it's simpler. It's all about money!

Nick said...

Hattie: Yes, I've heard that before! The British (well, the English anyway) are exceptionally hung up on social class. The moment they look at someone, they'll plot their precise location on the social hierarchy, and treat them accordingly.

Wisewebwoman said...

Haven't ever run in those posh circles that I know of so can't comment.

The extremely wealthy I have known are refreshingly down to earth including the son of a baronet I dated a long time ago.

You do have the oddest friends Nick.

XO
WWW

joared said...

Always comes down to the individual's character, I find. I always figure with whoever I meet, they all put their pants on one leg at a time, just as I do -- accent doesn't necessarily reveal who the person really is i.e. many Americans are impressed with anyone speaking with a British accent. There are always some at any social/financial level who seem to need to feel better about themselves by "putting down" others, or assuming a superior/"better than" role. No room for intimidation when meeting the "Posh" of any kind.

CheerfulMonk said...

I'm with you. No fanciness or pretentiousness here. :)

Nick said...

www: I have the oddest friends? I don't know what you mean, my friends are just fine.

Joared: On my trips to the States, I've never noticed that my accent impresses anybody. People can be just as offhand as they are over here! Putting down others has become a national epidemic in the UK. On Twitter and Facebook especially. Mainly by people who are quite the opposite of posh, and are just foul-mouthed yobs.

Jean: That's the impression of you I always get. Very down to earth.

tammy j said...

it has been a quote for so long now and attributed to any number of people from Oscar Wilde to Katharine Hepburn... but I've always liked it.
and I think it's at the basis of being a git or not! LOLOL!
"just be yourself. everybody else is taken."
is that right? i'm notorious at remembering those things wrong.
but even if it's wrong I think it's pretty good.
no point in 'puttin' on the ritz.'
most people will see right through it.
give me character and integrity every time! xo
and hattie's right. in america it's not who you know... it's HOW MUCH money and STUFF you've got.
all of it so silly.

Nick said...

Tammy: It was Oscar Wilde. It's a great quote. Yes, trying to copy other people is doomed to failure, because you're not them. And as you say, people will probably see right through it.

I think the UK is rapidly going the same way as the States - how much money and stuff you have is becoming far too important. Anyone burgling our house would be disappointed at the lack of valuable trendy items.

Nick said...

Tammy: This is another good one: "Always be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else." - Judy Garland

Liz Hinds said...

I'm known as poshtotty in the world of bikers and ragamuffins but like you I am not in the least posh - it depends what you're compared with! Yesterday at Uncle's funeral there were some very well-spoken people, the sort I would think of as posh, but not in the haughty way. (However I would like a large yacht with crew to take me wherever I wanted. Preferably somewhere sunny right now.)

Nick said...

Liz: I guess you do look a little posh. No idea what accent you have though - Welsh presumably? Yes, a luxury yacht to take me wherever I wanted would be good. Preferably with Paloma Faith as a passenger.

Ursula said...

Am with Scarlet's comment.

First class job how you managed to shoe horn into your post that you speak the Queen's English (received pronounciation). And, just for your information, only the non-posh call it "posh". Neither is the Queen's English pretentious nor does posh mean riches. Some of the "poshest" (owners of land and rotting mansions) haven't got a penny to their family's name and estate. But they know how to serve a cup of tea, stutter most elegantly and generally are most amusing.

You dispute that an English accent doesn't attract Americans? Well, you are misinformed. it's a chick magnet if ever there was one. Why do you think Hugh Grant is such a mumbling, stumbling success? Why do you think that FOS (the poshest of posh Queen's English speakers) is married to an American?

The true art, and then I close my sermon, is as practiced by both my father and my son, namely to be able to switch from one "accent" to another depending who you are addressing, or as you would say, from being posh to decidedly not so posh. One minute they are "mates" with someone, the next it's all "Sir". For me, the onlooker, hilarious. And, since I don't have the gift, I am pretty envious how easy they find it to blend into any of their surroundings, put themselves on whichever level is required.

U

Nick said...

Ursula: Oh, I've written about my accent before. In fact I did a whole post on accents http://nickhereandnow.blogspot.co.uk/2016/10/the-wrong-voice.html

I didn't say a posh accent was necessarily pretentious, or that poshness necessarily meant riches. But I did say it meant a fancy way of doing things. Like the "proper" way to serve a cup of tea. But who is FOS?

I'm not much good at changing my accent. It's generally posh English or nothing. I can do a good Aussie accent but I wouldn't use it in Australia as they would think I was taking the mickey. Likewise I wouldn't put on a cockney accent, as they'd fink I was avin a larf.

Secret Agent Woman said...

I have no schema for posh accents, so I can't address that part of it. But I think people can do things that might strike another as fancy either in a pretentious way or a non-pretentious way. I'm not put off by someone seeing the value of, say, engraved invitations or a complete place setting, even though it isn't important to me. To each his or her own, you know?

Nick said...

Agent: I'm not necessarily put off by anything "fancy". I quite like the creativity and originality. I only dislike it if there's pretentiousness involved, as you suggest.