I Aspire to Be Downwardly Mobile!

William Styron, in his wonderful short story, Shadrach, describes how his young ten-year-old protagonist loved the Dabneys because they were happy to bask in “casual squalor”, possessing a total absence “of the bourgeois aspirations and gentility which were my own inheritance.” This inheritance is ours also, every Briton’s, Thatcher’s free market crusade and promotion of rampant individualism creating a foul breed of Daily Mail reader still obsessed with family values and the defense of conservative interests, who pervades our culture like a sick, daft, populist bigot, convinced that happiness lies solely in material gain and social mobility. Behold this rag’s coverage of the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. The ordinary girl has made it into the aristocracy and been crowned a Duchess – isn’t this wonderful! – just as the grocer’s daughter, Margaret, clambered her way, with relentless guile, to the top of the ruling class and was appointed P.M. Like Styron’s boy hero, I despise such socially mobile aspirations, which are judged solely according to the amount of wealth and power obtained. I’d rather languish in a dead-end job with Styron’s book in one hand and a whisky in the other than marry into the royal family or rule the country. For it is better to be alone, with one’s soul intact, than to spend one’s life in bad company, the company of a Daily Mail reader, hero or heroine.

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