Alex Proud feels it’s the worst of the middle ground to be middle class in the 21st century.
Why? “You can’t afford a really nice house in any of the areas you actually want to live, you’re taxed almost as much as you earn, you can’t afford to send your children to a good private school yet you get nothing from the state. Somehow you have less disposable income than your parents, but obviously…literally nobody cares. If you moan, they’ll just laugh at you.” says Alex Proud.
Not that this is anything new to Alex, as he acknowledges: “Growing up middle class was not cool. Being middle class people was pretty boring.”
Alex Proud Would Have Preferred To Grow Up Working
Alex Proud admits he would rather have been working class.
“Working class people had a kind of effortless rough style about them and they had the kudos of being able to take credit for all their own achievements – no hand outs and no nepotism.”
Then at the other end of the scale, Alexander Proud notes, the upper classes could be cool too, “because they just didn’t care, they were somehow beyond the dull worries of finances and could rise above politics or ignore the need for political correctness”
“The middle class doesn’t have the freedom not to care. We are keen to improve our prospects, give our children more opportunity, impress and make our mark. With that desire to be liked and respected and to do good, comes the flipside of the coin: fear, anxiety and financial pressure and at the same time, you always know that the middle classes are universally mocked and despised.” Says Alex Proud.
Alex Proud goes on to say: “When someone really hates me, they’ll invoke my middle-class upbringing as a reason for my success. I carry some of this around in my own head too. I’m constantly filtering what I say, and trying to look and sound cooler or more authoritative. I know that if I was born really poor or really rich, I simply wouldn’t be trying so hard.”
Does Alex Proud seem to think it was better for previous generations? “I think it was better; our parents saw progress; foreign holidays became a regular thing, private schools (or at least some of them) were just about affordable for people with good jobs (civil service, doctors, lawyers and senior management). Our parents could buy huge old piles that they couldn’t heat but they could at least hold onto until they appreciated in value. They drove fairly decent cars, and bought agas. But by the 90s, it all started falling apart.
Thatcher is to blame, says Alex Proud
“Deregulation and the destruction of the post war social contract was the beginning of the end. The wealth disparity in our country has only been steeply growing since her term in power.
Alex Proud is not saying it’s all bad, but he notes that “average UK wages have been falling for years and the UK’s inequality is appalling, even if we’re a way off the US yet, and although there are products and services that have become cheaper (generally at the expense of corrupt practices and often child labour), several of the fundamentals have become far, far more expensive: accommodation and education. And what happens when wage don’t go as far? Other sectors suffer. And the cycle continues.
Want to give your children a chance at a better start in life? Move to Europe, because school fees in the UK have exploded – in the 25 years up to 2016, The Independent reported them rising by 550% and that’s if you can afford a house in the catchment area…”
Alex Proud has written about why he loves going to work, but he says that it is dispiriting when you feel like you’re working to stand still.
Alex Proud also notes that as the middle classes are losing their hold on the real middle ground, they also seem to have lost all ‘class’. “Middle class aspirations are no longer about cultural improvement, or personal growth or an understanding of art, all people aspire to be, these days, is wealthier. Rampant materialism is in, overt greed is applauded. You might as well slap a luxury brand mark on everything you wear and pretend to be a gangster rapper.”
Alex Proud suspects that this way lies misery: “We’re all trying to act richer than we are. We’re all trying to mimic a celebrity lifestyle we can’t really afford and it isn’t making us any happier and it certainly isn’t making us more likeable. Worst of all, here we are moaning about it whilst self-consciously mocking ourselves. It really is an awful time to be middle class.