8 settembre 2010

Dripping Aitches

"In Wygan I stayed for a while with a miner who was suffering from nystagmus. (...)
Watching this man go to the colliery to draw his compensation, I was struck by the profound differences that are still made by status. Here was a man who had been half blinded in one of the most useful jobs and was drawing a pension to which he had a perfect right, if anybody has a right to anything. Yet he could not, so to speak, demand this pension - he could not, for instance, draw it when and how he wanted. He had to go to the colliery once a week at a time named by the company, and when he got there he was kept waiting about four hours in the cold wind. For all I know he was also expected to touch his cap and show gratitude to whomever paid him; at any rate he had to waste an afternoon and spend sixpence in bus fares. It is very different for a member of the bourgeoisie, even such a down-at-heel member as I am. Even when I am on the verge of starvation I have certain rights attaching to my bourgeois status. I do not earn much more than a miner earns, but I do at least get it paid into my bank in a gentlemanly manner and can draw it out when I choose. And even when my account is exhausted the bank people are still passably polite.

This business of petty inconvenience and indignity, of being kept waiting about, of having to do everything at other people's convenience, is inherent in working-class life. A thousand influences costantly press a working man down into a passive role. He does not act. He is acted upon. He feels himself the slave of mysterious authority and has a firm conviction that "they" will never allow him to do this, that and the other. (...)

A person of bourgeois origin goes through life with some expectation of getting what he wants, within reasonable limits. Hence the fact that in times of stress 'educated' people tend to come to the front; they are no more gifted than the others and their 'education' is generally quite useless in itself, but they are accustomed to a certain amount of deference and consequently have the cheek necessary to a commander. That they will come to the front seems to be taken for granted, always and everywhere. (....) I do agree that in almost any revolt the leaders would tend to be people who could pronounce their aitches."

(G.Orwell - The Road to Wygan Pier)

This is a prayer
He understood me before I was born

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