Working class hero

You and me meet at a party.  After an awkward pause, I say,

“So what class ARE you?”

Sound familiar?  No. But being in love with a working class boy’s made me think about the whole class thing – is there such a thing, how do you define it, does it matter any more?

Lots of people will say no, it’s irrelevant these days. After all, who the hell thought up the term ‘working class’?  Doesn’t everybody work? Nowadays it’s more about what you work AT – ‘Oh, I’m a stockbroker’, ‘I own BHP’, ‘I drive a roller on the road to Wagga’.  Then there’s those people who don’t work ‘I’m an actor’, ‘I sell dope’, ‘I get the dole’.

Or maybe about when you finished school.  My baby’s got a diploma, my best friend’s got a PhD. She reads Proust (mostly so she can say she has), he reads James Patterson.

My sweetie has some of the stereotypical traits of the working class boy.  He works hard and can do just about anything blue-collar – drive a forklift, flip a burger, dig a trench.  He doesn’t like bludgers.  He’s loyal, deeply romantic and family-minded and has a firm idea of what being ‘a man’ entails. He likes being the possessor of muscles.  He doesn’t care about politics and doesn’t like discussing abstruse subjects.

On the other hand, he likes foreign films, grows his hair long (and plaits it), wears tie-dye shirts, doesn’t have a trace of sexism or racism, and is very far from stupid.  Still there’s a bit of a disconnect between us (not that it matters).  I’ve dated Africans and Asians and Philippinos and Colombians and really it’s all the same – it’s not a class difference, it’s a culture thing.  Our lot sit around having intellectual arguments for the fun of it, his lot couldn’t think of anything much less fun.  Our lot like classical music, his lot like rock.  Our lot feel sorry for those less fortunate, his lot think those less fortunate are usually lazy good-for-nothings.  Our lot eat garlic and know what quinoa is, his lot think they’re going out on a limb with spinach and fetta rolls.

I do love my working class boy!



  1. ‘Our lot feel sorry for those less fortunate, his lot think those less fortunate are usually lazy good-for-nothings.’

    That one seems like it should be the other way around! I find the poor generally understand and empathize with the poor.

    His lot like Rock, our lot like Coldplay!

    1. Ha! You’re right, I like Coldplay. But no, working class people are often not poor – for instance he as a driver earns twice as much as me as a community sector worker – and they work hard for their money doing anything they can, so they sometimes don’t have sympathy for people on welfare, ‘bludgers’. Feeling sorry for people is sometimes a sort of luxury, which people at the bottom can’t afford. On the other hand, they do give more to the Smith Family and Salvos than their middle class neighbours, apparently.

  2. I always liked her version of “Working Class Hero”. Y’know, I’d like to have discussions in real life (not just in Blogville) with people about books and such, but my friends (what few I ever have) are working class and mostly don’t read much, but also it seems like a lot of “high-minded people” are kind of snooty. I mean, I’d hate to have a discussion about books without being able to use the f-word. And I like what I like about books, and I think I’d be afraid that some English-teacher type would tell me I shouldn’t like it for that reason. Or something.
    You know what’s really messed up, though? I’d probably really have to care deeply about a woman in order to date her, if she lived in a crappier trailer court than mine. It’s hard to use trailer-trash and pretentious in the same sentence, but what the heck?

    1. Yeah, I kind of miss talking about books, but I feel the same way you do – I like what I like. That’s funny about the trailer park lady…I know as a woman I’m supposed to care what a guy earns and if he has holes in his clothes but I really don’t give a f. If he’s stupid, that’s another matter.

    1. I don’t know how relevant those distinction are really. Bogans are what my kids hate and sometimes they mix them up with people who work in blue collar jobs and don’t have much education…but there’s a difference, isn’t there? Anyway Baz, you’re in a class of your own – people who spend their lives perpetually on holiday!

  3. I mean ‘scumbag’ when I say ‘working-class’ often. They have intersected quite a bit though in some jobs I’ve worked in. Blue collar career workers, people who own vans for their job and stuff, I’ve had not much interaction with except through my forklift driving cousin. Half of his manual laborer mates were loud, boring and suspicious of me like dumb spooked animals. The other half were people I wouldn’t mind talking to again. The ratio has probably been slightly better with more educated/schooled people, for me.

    1. I’m firmly in the middle class so I don’t really know what it’s like to grow up with those different values and interests – still I guess I try to treat people as people and not assume a person doesn’t read good books or have an incisive mind just because they fix dunnies for a living. Actually I have a lot of respect for blue collar workers because I can’t do most of that stuff – I can write a policy paper but I can’t take a tap apart or make a really good pub joke or even work a checkout! Some of my well educated nephews drive vans, do security, etc, because they like it better than pushing papers.

      1. I’m middle class by upbringing. There’s so much bigotry and tunnel vision going both ways with the issue. Educated and sharp aren’t the same thing, I can see that. What I’ve noticed is when I meet middle class types I don’t like (which is often) it’s my fault and when I meet working class types I don’t like it’s their fault. The lines are pretty sharp in NI though. Shaper than elsewhere I think. I lived with a guy for 4 years in uni who was from a completely working class background and this is the first time I’ve remembered that. It didn’t define him at all. So there we go! nice post. Most frustrating issue ever to think about.

    1. What about soft hands and busy minds? I like the idea of appreciating each person for what they are and not where they come from . I used to think, why’s someone with such a keen intelligence working as a driver? but I’ve come to realise he wouldn’ have liked spending four years poring over books the way I did. He likes the outdoors.

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