I have a secret. One that I think is easier to hide in Australia. Where they don’t ask you what school you went to (unless they are genuinely interested) or what your father does. I married up.
There. I said it.
I’ve always had a bit of a posh accent for a lower middle-class girl. We moved around a lot and I watched a lot of high quality drama. I threw in the occasional ‘cor blimey, that’s a bit of a two ‘n eight innit’ to fit in. (Golly gosh, you’re in a bit of mess.) My Dad had a book on Cockney rhyming slang.
I grew up in several, almost identical looking, new homes on estates. Nice estates. Hanging baskets, white plastic fencing round the front garden, rockeries, that sort of thing. We usually lived in the first houses built and were surrounded by fields of wheat. Stubble burning season was a highlight. And we had the first colour telly in the small town we lived in which made us up market for a few weeks. Blinded by the greens at Wimbledon, a dozen or more of the neighbours lined up on the settee, balancing cups of tea on their knees.
However the husband grew up on 30 acres in the UK. Posh. Swimming pool, tennis courts, lake with a boathouse, boat obviously, a nursery (the plant kind), a Japanese garden, a maze, summerhouse and croquet lawn. Their Christmas outing were trips into London to watch the ballet or Beatrix Potter on Ice. While ours were Dad’s firm’s panto trip to Norwich or Bury St Edmunds, watching Richard Briars in Babes in the Wood or Selwyn Froggatt in Jack and the Beanstalk. Are you starting to see the difference?
The husband’s family holidays were taken on Ibiza or Corfu, alternatively the family chalet in Switzerland. We went to the east coast of England, Felixstowe usually as we owned a static caravan based there. I wore a cardigan over my swimmers on the beach and enjoyed my one ice cream a day. Can’t even imagine what he got up to.
My first posh crush was on Peter Gabriel. I didn’t care for the money or the lifestyle, not even mini-breaks in the English countryside. What I longed for was the sound of a cut glass accent, ex-public school (private for those outside Old Blighty). I liked the slightly pompous ones who appeared to have a broom shoved up the back of their ermine and furs. I met the husband at a conference in Westminster. Our eyes met across the crowded room and I knew. We were both desperate for a ciggy and bored silly. On that slightly unusual premise we built a life together.
Who would have thought it? The man who went to boarding school with a tuck box for books, food and records and a chest for his clothes would end up with the girl who’d had a fake fur pencil case, leaky fountain pen and roller skates slung across her back.
It’s all gone relatively smoothly. Apart from that time at a dinner when gazing into his baby blues I picked up the wrong fork. The horror in his eyes and the shame I felt. Hurrah for the antipodes is what I say. Who follows all that crap? I’ve held onto my posh accent – most of the time. Whereas the husband? He’s more Mudjimba than Holland Park these days.