Once settled into the 2-hour train journey from York to London, I had a convenient blog session to hand.
It occurred to me that I was leaving the most northern point of my travels and steadily would move south: first to London, then to Dublin–so a slight deviation of northern-bound travel, admittedly–but then south, again, going back to London, and then definitively southern bound by flying to Texas.
I remember studying the U.K.’s north-south divide in geography classes at school, over fifteen years ago, and still today’s news reports the presence of and implications of the divide.
After two years in the U.S., I was more conscious during this trip home of the ingrained prejudices in British society that mean my clothes and most significantly my accent pigeon-hole me into a particular role in other peoples’ eyes, regardless of how close that role mirrors the reality of my everyday existence.
This occurs all across the world, but the British peoples remain the keenest practitioners of embracing class distinctions, and it cuts both ways across class divisions. I find it exceedingly boring. Life is too short and busy enough.
So I’m looking forward to returning to America, where my accent marks me out as being from some other land, clearly, but where most people couldn’t give a hoot about it.
George Orwell wrote with searing candor about class distinctions in “The Road to Wigan Pier.” He points out how we all need to look inward:
“For to get outside the class-racket I have got to suppress not merely my private snobbishness, but most of my other tastes and prejudices as well. I have got to alter myself so completely that at the end I should hardly be recognizable as the same person. I have got to alter myself so completely that at the end I should hardly be recognizable as the same person. What is involved is not merely the amelioration of working-class conditions, nor an avoidance of the more stupid form of snobbery, but a complete abandonment of the upper-class and middle-class attitude to life.”
Better get myself off to Texas, then.