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  #1  
Old December 5th 18, 06:36 PM posted to uk.tech.digital-tv
JNugent[_6_]
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On 29/10/2018 23:33, Bill Wright wrote:
Strange, the things that sit there in your mind for sixty years

The back yard of Grandma Wright's council house in the mining village
abutted the back yard of a house on Winnipeg Road. I never met or even
saw anyone from that house, but one day when I would be about seven
Grandma told me that they were “posh.”* I’ve no idea why she said that
or what our conversation was otherwise about, but Grandma did tell me a
lot of things, all of which I assumed to be true and many of which I
remember to this day, and some of which I still believe. “Rutland is so
small you can walk round it in an afternoon.” “Ladders weren’t invented
when the Wesleys were alive.” “If you drink orange juice and then milk
they curdle inside you.”
About the same time as I learnt that the people over the back were posh,
I was taken to see the film adaptation of ‘The Importance of Being
Earnest.’ This arrangement had been reached reluctantly on the grounds
that although Grandma Williamson was prepared to babysit the infant Kath
she drew the line at me, “after last time.” So I asked my mam about the
film and was told that it was about “posh people.” The film was
completely over my head of course but it was in colour which entranced
me. That, and bribes of ice cream, were enough for my behaviour to be
‘reasonable’.
Two manifestations of ‘posh people’ had been created in my mind, and for
some reason they merged and became one. Lady Bracknell ruled the roost
in her New Village council house, the interior of which included her
lavishly furnished and decorated morning room. In colour, of course. And
despite the fact that I have in my life been inside the residences of
quite a few people who could comfortably be described as posh, when I
think of posh people and their houses I still remember that little
Tardis-like house on Winnipeg Road with its late nineteenth century
high-ceilinged upper class interior, its oil paintings, its oak panelled
doors, and its grand piano.

Bill


Briliant!

The UK equivalent - easily - of tales of Lake Wobegon.

  #2  
Old December 5th 18, 09:47 PM posted to uk.tech.digital-tv
Bill Wright[_3_]
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Posts: 3,083
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On 05/12/2018 17:36, JNugent wrote:

Briliant!

The UK equivalent - easily - of tales of Lake Wobegon.


You are very kind.

Bill
  #3  
Old December 5th 18, 10:04 PM posted to uk.tech.digital-tv
NY
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Posts: 1,579
Default totally off topic

"JNugent" wrote in message
...
On 29/10/2018 23:33, Bill Wright wrote:
Strange, the things that sit there in your mind for sixty years

The back yard of Grandma Wright's council house in the mining village
abutted the back yard of a house on Winnipeg Road. I never met or even
saw anyone from that house, but one day when I would be about seven
Grandma told me that they were “posh.” I’ve no idea why she said that or
what our conversation was otherwise about, but Grandma did tell me a lot
of things, all of which I assumed to be true and many of which I remember
to this day, and some of which I still believe. “Rutland is so small you
can walk round it in an afternoon.” “Ladders weren’t invented when the
Wesleys were alive.” “If you drink orange juice and then milk they curdle
inside you.”
About the same time as I learnt that the people over the back were posh,
I was taken to see the film adaptation of ‘The Importance of Being
Earnest.’ This arrangement had been reached reluctantly on the grounds
that although Grandma Williamson was prepared to babysit the infant Kath
she drew the line at me, “after last time.” So I asked my mam about the
film and was told that it was about “posh people.” The film was
completely over my head of course but it was in colour which entranced
me. That, and bribes of ice cream, were enough for my behaviour to be
‘reasonable’.
Two manifestations of ‘posh people’ had been created in my mind, and for
some reason they merged and became one. Lady Bracknell ruled the roost in
her New Village council house, the interior of which included her
lavishly furnished and decorated morning room. In colour, of course. And
despite the fact that I have in my life been inside the residences of
quite a few people who could comfortably be described as posh, when I
think of posh people and their houses I still remember that little
Tardis-like house on Winnipeg Road with its late nineteenth century
high-ceilinged upper class interior, its oil paintings, its oak panelled
doors, and its grand piano.

Bill


Briliant!

The UK equivalent - easily - of tales of Lake Wobegon.


For poshness - and *gradations* of poshness, you need Alan Bennett:

(his introduction to a film "Dinner at Noon" about a posh hotel in the
ultimate posh Yorkshire town - Harrogate)

Quote:
This film is not about class, which I don't like, but classes, types, which
I do. I've never been able to get worked up about class and its
distinctions. But then I've never felt that the conventional three-tier
account of social divisions has much to do with the case. My mother's scheme
of things admitted much finer distinctions than are allowed by the
sociologists. She'd talk about people being "better class", "well off",
"nicely spoken", "refined", "educated", "genuine", "ordinary"... and the
ultimate condemnation, "common".


I'll counter your Winnipeg Road "posh people" story with "A Tale of Two
Grandparents".

My mum's parents lived in a between-the-wars semi in "a tree-lined avenue"
near Roundhay Park in Leeds - the posh side. My dad's parents lived in a
large, draughty Victorian house on the main road from Dewsbury to Leeds,
near Tingley Cross Roads. Grandpa A (Roundhay) was an insurance
loss-adjuster and Grandma A didn't work; Grandpa and Grandma B (Woodkirk)
were both teachers - indeed Grandpa B became a headmaster.

They had very different outlooks on life. The A's were rather formal and
distant, and going to visit them was like an audience with royalty: sit
still, and *behave*. The B's were typical grandparents - kind, loving, a bit
daft, and good fun; it helped that they worked all day with children.

Grandpa A tried to live a sort of vicarious life of the upper classes: he
was well read on the Society columns in the newspaper and knew what Lord X
or Sir John Y or Earl Z had been doing. He pronounced Harewood as Harwood.
Need I say more - pretentious! The A's were a funny family. Grandpa's elder
sister, whom everyone agreed was a card-carrying miserable, moody cow who
always saw bad in everybody and everything, took offence when dad once
addressed the envelope of their Christmas card to "Auntie M and Uncle R"
because he was delivering it by hand; Auntie M decided that the best place
to tear a strip off mum for marrying a "peasant" was in the crowded corner
shop, rather than in private - she thought that even a hand-delivered card
from a niece should be addressed formally to Mrs and Mrs R [surname]", and
that everyone should know this. Apparently mum told her aunt, in no
uncertain terms, what she thought of her aunt's choice of time and place to
air her grievance, and the whole shop cheered as the aunt crept out with her
tail between her legs, utterly humiliated. No love lost there!

Grandpa and Grandma B were down-to-earth, not quite socialist, but definite
Guardian rather than Times material (cue Yes Prime Minister speech about
newspapers!). They were great believers in pulling yourself up from your
lowly beginnings by the Power of Education.

Grandpa B had an educated West Riding accent, but when he was asked to give
a few talks on Children's Hour in the 1950s about his interest in steam
locomotives and the world of railways, the BBC decided that his accent was
"too Northern", so in protest at this affront, he put on a very exaggerated
Mr Cholmondley-Warner / Bob Danvers BBC-English accent which was really OTT.
I know, because they gave him a shellac-on-aluminium 78 rpm record of one of
his talks, and you can just about tell it's his voice, especially when his
posh accent slips a bit, but it does sound as if he's been kidnapped by
aliens from Stoke Poges. There is one bit where he is talking about how a
steam engine works, and uses the phrase "End sew before long, the smoake is
camming aout of the chimnay laike a ballett fram a gan". When I first heard
that record, and teased him about "a ballett fram a gan", his only comment
was a disparaging one about the parentage of "Those daft wazzocks at the
BBC!"

I was much closer to the B's, even though they lived half-an hour's car ride
away whereas the A's were a couple of streets away. They looked after me and
my sister when my mum was very ill in hospital and dad was working away from
home. Grandma B *tried* to teach me how to play the piano; Grandpa B drew
daft sketches of weird creatures with an elephant's trunk, a lion's head and
mane, one leg wearing a welly, another high heels etc. He took me
train-watching - we spent a lot of time on Storr's Hill looking down onto
Healey Mills marshalling yard, and he taught me how to machine metal on his
lathe that he used for making a model traction engine from scaled-down
drawings of the real thing - we still have it, and occasionally we have it
in steam to make sure it still works.

Inevitably it was Grandpa B who died first. He died while they were on
holiday and mum and dad rushed off, leaving my sister and me (now in our
teens) at home. The evening was a Saturday, so Grandpa A would always ring
that evening - a long, rigidly-applied tradition. When I told him about
Grandpa B, there was a pause, a harumph cough and then "Oh dear. That's a
shame. That's very sad." - lip service without an ounce of sympathy,
compassion or humanity. I regret that my immediate thought was "the wrong
grandpa has died".

What is interesting is that when, many years later, Grandma A died, Grandpa
A changed - he became more chatty, still a bit obsessed with the goings-on
in the world of the nobility but able to joke about it. When I last saw him
in a nursing home, a few months before he died, he was fun, easy-going and
mischievous - he actually goosed one of the female carers! It made me wonder
whether all the time I'd known him he'd being keeping a tight rein on his
emotions because he was henpecked by Grandma A... and now he was free.

  #4  
Old December 6th 18, 06:34 AM posted to uk.tech.digital-tv
Bill Wright[_3_]
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Posts: 3,083
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On 05/12/2018 21:04, NY wrote:

For poshness - and *gradations* of poshness, you need Alan Bennett:


You might think this very odd, but when I approached the task of giving
the eulogy at my dad's funeral I eventually decided to write it and
deliver it in the manner of Alan Bennett. I don't mean I tried to mimic
him or anything; I just sort of tried to adopt his slightly resigned,
down-to-earth was of saying things. Initially it wasn't a conscious
decision to Bennettise the speech; but when I stood in one of Dad's
favourite places, in the field at the top of the hill, and practiced the
speetch I just seemed to slip into it, and because it seemed to work I
allowed it to grow. I altered some sentences to fit the style. The
eulogy was very well received. A lot of people congratulated me on it,
and no-one seemed to have perceived the inspiration. To be honest i
really enjoy doing anything like that, because I'm a terrible show off
and exhibitionist.
Your reminiscences about your grandparents are very interesting, and
illustrate the weird way the British feel that they belong to a certain
quite narrow stratum of society.

Extracts from my autobiography:

1. The council estate was being extended. Building on our side of Jossey
Lane was finished for the time being, but on the other side near the
school Amersall Road was gradually being extended, until it finally met
up with Raymond Road, previously a cul-de-sac off Watch House Lane. The
building works were our playground in the summer holidays. I was friends
with Graham, who was the young brother of Eileen, who was in 3A with me.
Eileen, unlike most of the girls, was quite friendly. Graham and I liked
to go onto the building sites. My mam knew and was happy with it because
she ‘knew where we were’ but Graham’s mummy wouldn’t have liked it so we
always said we were playing round at our house. Eileen and Graham lived
in the private houses at the top of our council estate, so they were
posh. There were one or two families on the council estate who acted
posh, but we knew they weren’t really, because they lived with us on our
estate, so how could they be?

2. There was actually a family on our council estate that regarded
itself as posh. This was the Crawshaws. Mrs Crawshaw had nothing to do
with the other women on the estate because of her feelings of innate
social superiority. Her husband was, after all, an employee of the RAC.
As her son Reggie was fond of mentioning, this was a far superior
organisation in every respect to the AA, because it was ‘Royal’.

Like Eileen and Graham’s house, the Crawshaws’ place was always utterly
immaculate. To Mrs Crawshaw’s dismay Reggie and I hit it off, and as
seven and eight year-olds we often played together. Our first major
project was to construct a tunnel between our front yard and theirs.
Frankly this was a disaster, since we only got a few feet under the
pavement. Abandoning civil engineering we decided to use some of the
by-products for our next interest, which was baking. Since Mrs Crawshaw
was out we thought her oven was the best one to bake the worm pie. When
she came home and discovered the pie and probed its contents she reacted
very badly. After she had finished screaming at us she sent Reggie to
bed and sat me down at the kitchen table. “You see this pencil? It’s an
RAC pencil. That makes it very special. Now, you can have this pencil if
you promise never to play with Reggie again.” I willingly agreed to
this, but of course the next day Reggie and I played together just as
normal.

3.Our estate was a council estate, but in those days council estates
weren’t what most of them have become today. Certainly our estate wasn’t
full of petty criminals and drug addicts, as so many council estates are
nowadays. There was no dumping of discarded furniture or appliances in
the street, and no serious graffiti or vandalism. We were a mixed
community and in general people were ‘respectable’. In the mid-1950s
only a third of the UK population were owner-occupiers, so estates like
ours had a wide variety of people living in them. In our little network
of five streets — about 130 houses — there were half a dozen school
teachers and a lot of other white collar workers. Most of the other dads
were skilled or semi-skilled workers. I can only think of one ‘problem
family’, and I suppose the general consensus regarding acceptable
behaviour influenced most of those who would otherwise misbehave.

We felt that we held the middle ground between the posh pre-war private
estate just up the hill from our house and those who lived in the pit
houses on Jossey Lane. These feelings were very real and they filtered
down to us kids. It’s strange how human beings, especially in those
days, sliced the social strata microscopically thin just so they could
feel superior to someone a few yards down the road, and based their
slicing on differences that might be real or equally well might be
imagined.

The background to this was that in those days social class was a bigger
factor, and was more starkly defined, than it is now. As I suggested
above, even amongst the working class there was a clear pecking order.

As well as real or imagined differences of income and behaviour, there
were significant tangible distinctions between our estate and the
pre-war private estate. The latter was well-established, with proper
leafy trees, whereas our street trees were mere saplings. The private
houses had front walls of brick whilst ours were a rather stark pair of
concrete rails and concrete posts. They had bay windows and far more
television aerials than us. Their road was nice black tarmac; ours was
concrete. Their pavements had a decorative pink strip two feet wide at
the roadside; ours didn’t. We were the nouveaux pauvres. I know that’s
how we were regarded because I had friends on the private estate, and I
picked up on things the kids and parents said.

But when the building of private houses started on Jossey Lane and the
first bit of Amersall Road — after the prefabs had gone — we looked with
some disdain at the new people, with their colour harmonised interiors
and their groovy lampshades. We would have said they were nouveau riche,
had such an expression been in our vocabulary.

We certainly felt socially superior to the pit house dwellers, even
though there were NCB employees of various grades on our estate. As kids
we regarded the pit estate and its kids in much the same way as Ratty
and Mole regarded the Wild Wood and its weasels. Although not quite a
no-go area we were a bit wary of going into that part of Scawthorpe,
although of course there were pit house kids at school and as long as we
were with them it was OK.

My dad’s mother looked down on my mother’s parents, and sometimes it
would be obvious that Grandma Wright felt that her eldest son had
married down. Grandma and Grandad Wright lived in a 1920s semi with a
decent sized garden. The house, like every house in Bentley New Village,
was owned by the colliery. Grandma and Grandad Williamson lived in a
privately rented terraced house that fronted almost directly onto the
A19. Grandad Wright was a hewer of coal so he earned more that Grandad
Williamson, who was a mere door trapper. Not much in it, you might
think, but to Grandma Wright it was a chasm.

Grandma Wright used various ploys in her attempts to drag me up a rung
on the social ladder. She often bought me handkerchiefs, sometimes with
my initials on them. She pointedly told me to use the handkerchiefs, and
never to appear in front of her without one. She called me ‘William’
even though she knew it annoyed me. She often compared me unfavourably
to Richard and John. These boys, near contemporaries of mine, were the
sons of her schoolteacher daughter Winnie. Grandma made it plain that I
should at all times emulate Richard and John. The phrase ‘Richard and
John’ tripped off her tongue like a mantra. It was ‘Richard and John’
this and ‘Richard and John’ that. It irritated me but it infuriated my
mother, who would sometimes mutter rebelliously to me.

Bill


 




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