Friday, 10 February 2012


Edited 11 Feb 2012
I was going to delete this post as it really is a bit personal to be floating about in blogland but I have decided to let it stay.  It was a first draft and I wrote my thoughts down as I was thinking them without any editing. I knew that people would react to it strongly either in defence of the working classes or middle classes.  I have no wish to offend anybody and there is nothing 'wrong' with any social class of a person.  

The point I was trying to get across was that I personally have let 'where I have come from' hold me back and that is no-ones fault but mine.   I have felt that I have lacked the opportunities offered to people from wealthier backgrounds but also accept that with drive and determination we can all make something of our lives.  Sometimes though, a persons confidence can be so broken, only their self belief can mend it.

I often feel inadequate for various reasons.  Sometimes just the enormity of life and my significance in it makes me feel very small, almost worthless, but my sensible head tells me that each of us have a part to play.

I believe that a lot of my insecurity comes as a result of being from a working class background.  My paternal Nan, a true cockney (born within the sound of Bow bells) spent time in a London workhouse.  She really knew the meaning of the word poverty.  She died over two decades ago from complications of diabetes.  I recently found out that her Doctor had told her to go and get a book and read about it.  A person needs to be able to read and comprehend what they are reading first Doctor, for a book to be of any use to them!

Carrying a chip on my shoulder, I have found it hard to relate to middle class professionals for a lot of my life.  I now try to accept people as individuals but feel that my life experiences have clouded my judgement about certain people.

When I worked as an Administrative Assistant many years ago, I had a boss, who was also Director at the company, who disapproved of the working classes getting educated.  She said ‘who will do the labour if they are all out getting degrees?

I had a very basic education in comprehensive schools.  However, my lack of education and bad school experience has not stopped me from wanting to learn.  In fact, it has satiated my hunger for knowledge and I read a lot about every subject under the Sun. 

I never want to be in a situation like my Nan, where lack of education combined with ignorance and poverty kept her at the bottom of the social ladder.

No matter how high I can climb intellectually (although I will never make it socially) I will never forget my working class roots even though I am ashamed to say I despise them for the restrictions they imposed on my family.


marigold jam said...

What's wrong with being working class then? Join the club! But I do know what you mean and Itoo have always had a feeling of not quite matching up but why that should be I don't know. As my dear mother used to say "It's what you are that counts" meaning how kind, thoughtful, compassionate etc one is is what really matters. I posted a quote a while ago which I found good which said something along the lines of "to have made one person's life a little better in whatever way is to have succeeded". It's true who can put a value on a smile or kindness given? What difference would it make if you were royalty or the lowest of the low?

Toffeeapple said...

I come from Welsh mining stock, very working class, but with a work ethic unlike any other. I hated school, I learned far more from the older people around me, about nature and astronomy and history, I hated having my freedom to roam the hills taken away and being made to sit in a room where very little interested me. But I don't feel inadequate and neither should you for you are a fine human being.

Scented Sweetpeas said...

I think most people come from a working class background but I must admit to not thinking about it much. My great grandparents were from Kentish town in London and ran a green grocers there - it was hard work but they loved it :-)

Kathy said...

Everyone works for a living .... so we're all working class! I know what you mean though. I often feel intimidated by people who speak 'posh' .... coming from Liverpool, I don't!

greenrabbitdesigns said...

I'm from a working class background too and I'm extremely proud of that fact! It's good to know that our forefathers did a decent days work for their pay and didn't get handed obscene bonuses for doing very little!
V x

Rosie said...

I'm working class too, having done my family history most of my ancestors on both sides were miners or colliers with a few exceptions of tailor, saddler, cheese maker and brass foundry worker. Two of my ancestors died in the workhouse. I grew up in a council house on a small estate in a small village where there was only 35 children in the whole school which was attached to the village church. I did well at school always read a lot but when I passed my 11+ to go to grammar school it went down hill from there as I was like a fish out of water in a huge school. I left at 15 and did all my qualifications later at night school and open university. I always knew I could learn I just hated secondry school so much and couldn't wait to join in the adult world as I felt so much more comfortable with people older than me. This is turning into an essay but Simone be proud of who you are and what you have achieved your Nan would be pleased to see how far you have travelled in your life so far:)

sharon said...

I delayed my response to this post to give it some thought. I see this morning you have added an addendum. Even so, here are my thoughts...
When we are born we are set into a scene already written, the opening acts scripted. But we each are our own playwrights, set designers and choreographers. To grow up is to learn that the future direction of our lives is of our own scripting. There are moments, days even, when we feel "stuck." These are necessary intermissions that allow for healthy rest and reflection.
Your blog invites a worldwide, interactive audience. I have known you through your blog for less than a year. In that time I have witnessed a diversely creative artist, a nurturing gardener, a sensitive photographer, a generous volunteer, a bountiful cook, a thoughtful friend.
These are talents you have recognized and developed from deep within you. They are YOU. I am enriched by them. This is NOT insignificant.
It is diversity that will save us all. Yes, the mum is not a rose. It is exquisite nonetheless, is it not??

Rosie said...

I think I know what you mean Simone. I grew up on a Council estate int the Midlands. We were always poor, my mother was disabled and my father rarely worked due to mental illness. My older brother passed his 11+ and went to grammar school ending up a successful business man but I failed the 11+ and although I think I have done well over the years by going to college after I had my children and now have a good job I will always feel inadequate.
I never want to go in expensive restaurants in case they realise I am stupid. Give me a Harvester or Pizza Hut! I choose a Holiday Inn or similar over an expensive hotel to stay in when going away. I am always in fear of being found out as the girl who went to bed hungry and wasn't clever enough to pass the 11+.
My brother by the way has none of these hang ups.
No matter what people say to be proud of where you come from and however much I agree them, it will never change how I feel.
Have a good weekend x

KC'sCourt! said...

From one insecure peron to another - hello! My grandparents worked till they retired, my parents worked till they retired and beyond - always felt insecure because my mum wasn't there after school like other mothers. I was bullied at school and worst of all bullied in the workplace in the workplace, I was a naive 17yr old. Until I had children I didn't answer back either for fear of a slap. I still can't sometimes - I'm 55 now!

millefeuilles said...

Wonderful. It is good to get one's insecurities out. This is the best way forward. I think Sharon's comment is praiseworthy. I have no idea which background my father came from exactly; working or perhaps lower-middle class? However he grew up (he is nearly 90) with a strong work ethic and that is the quality together with determination and honesty which allowed him to push back the barriers and move forwards. My mother was from a higher echalon of French society (please note this is tongue in cheek) but it never stopped her from admiring my father.

I know little of you yet but what I have seen here speaks volumes of quality.

I hope I have written this correctly?

Warmest wishes,


Leanne said...

where to start?

My Dad was also born within the sound of Bow bells, another true cockney. I grew up in a council house too. Once married, my ( now-ex) husband, also from the same background as me, founded a business which did very well. Still does very well. We lived a very comfortable life.I guess we socially climbed.

When I was 40 my marriage ended. I am now alone. I work full time in a low paid working class job, and have to budget all the time. My ex husband spends a large part of the winter abroad in warmer climes.

Would I change my life back again? absolutely not!!! Despite having many problems now, i would not go back to that life.I am not ashamed of where I came from, where I journeyed to with him, although it did not make me happy, or where I am again now. i work hard, everything i achieve is solely down to me, and I can look myself in the mirror and like the person I am.

Leanne x

Judy Hartman said...

Dear, dear Simone,
I'm so sorry you have these feelings of inadequacy, but in your blog you have always come across to me as very well spoken, talented and, to be honest, a wonderful person. I always think to myself, if I went to England, would there be any chance I could get together with Simone?
I will tell you that I panic in social situations and get a bit tongue tied when talking to people I don't know. At my age!!! My dad was the son of Italian immigrants - his father was a laborer and never spoke English and it was very hard for my dad as a young boy. But he rose above it and ended up working for the US government and was well respected.
I think Sharon put into words best what I'm thinking. I hope that reading these comments makes you realize how much you are loved and how everyone has moments when they feel "less than" others.
Sending you big hugs and lots of love.
Believe in yourself, Simone. You are truly a lovely person!

Diane said...

I truly identify with this post. I too am from a very working class background - Dad was a coal miner and we lived in a pit village in a council house. I was always discouraged by my parents to try and get "above my station" and any dreams I had were squished out of me on a daily basis. I wasn't allowed to stay on to take A levels at school as my parents considered them a waste of time - especially for girls. I never felt out of place at school as most of my contempories were the same, but I really felt it when I started work. I have always felt disadvantaged socially because of my background, but then on the other hand feel proud of myself for being the first in my family to own my own home and send my kids to University. This was a great post xxxx

meadowsweet hare said...

it sounds like you have roots to be proud of.
i'm from an odd sort of backgound being raised by a middle class bohemian (mad as a hatter) father and a very grounded working class mother (although she was being a wild-child when she first met my dad).
my mum and her parents were poor immigrants from holland and germany, though the family were originally very rich. my grandfather and his brothers ran a bakery when they came to this country and worked all the hours god sent. my mum was a nurse, though later in life was the secretary of one of the directors of the performing rights society.
my grandmother was a designer/seamstress who worked for a firm that once made fans for the royal family.
it's funny that previous generations of my mothers family were rich and became poor and that my father's ancestors were poor and became rich. perhaps due to this and my own riches to rags to riches to rags story, i have always felt sort of classless. i attended a little convent school until i was almost twelve and that was basically all the education i had in my younger years. because i ran away from home and lived on the streets until i became a trainee florist aged 15. often when people meet me they think i am gentry or something, because i am rather eccentric (my father's daughter in some ways). but i also have at least five sensible working class toes on the ground (thank goodness). i quite like my dad's potty relations -romanies and norwegian peasants that fell in with scottish/irish gentry). and my mum's gentle disinherited aristocrats - who came to live in cockney london :) i've often though of writing about my family history. my grandmothers used to tell me such fascinating stories, i only wish i could remember them in more detail.
ooop! this post is getting rather long and i am meant to be asleep. but i've had a painful hip this evening that won't let me rest.
i liked reading about you and don't imagine you as inadequate at all in any way. you are such an intelligent and fascinating blogger, with a mysterious spiritual side too and a very kind soul to boot, not to mention a wonderful artist (you truly are!). i very much admire to you.
i kind of know how you feel though. when i was 19 i married a university professor and having missed a huge chunk of my education i did feel quite out of my depth in his society. it wasn't until years later that he told me he felt out of his depth around my arty family and friends (his subject was mathematics).
i've enjoyed reading the comments here too. you've started a very interesting conversation, but then you always get us thinking :)

Tillybud said...

thank you for sharing such a thought provoking post with such honesty. It is so interesting to hear about all the commenters backgrounds and the feelings attached to them. Sharon's comment encapsulates much of how I feel about the cards we are dealt and what we decide to do with them. I know my own (less than ideal)upbringing has had a huge impact on my work and my desire to increase the life chances of the most vulnerable. Don't let anything or anyone hold you back from being your own true self.

Teresa said...

Dear Simone,

From someone who has so much enjoyed being a part of your blog, and by extension, a little part of your life, your honesty is refreshing, touching and such a worthy quality. I understand some of where you were coming from when you wrote this. I think that no matter what sensible words of logic your adult brain tells you, somewhere inside there is still that little kid with feelings of inadequacy for one reason or another that pops up from time to time. I think one of the things that has helped me when beset by such feelings is to remind myself of how very common they are! I've heard so many others voice feelings of inadequacy over a myriad of things: looks, money, education, friends, jobs, cars, how they speak or write or read, how they interact with others, how they cook...... well, the list goes on and on! It may not be a universal feeling.... but seems to me that it's doggone close! A lot of us are in the same boat with you :-)

Hugs from NC,