John Betjeman - Faulks on Fiction TV - Monica Ali - Dan Rather - George Orwell - Marcell Proust - Albert Camus - Cary Grant - Yves Saint Laurent - Norman Foster - Irvine Welsh - Quentin Crisp -
Phone for the fish knives, Norman
As Cook is a little unnerved;
You kiddies have crumpled the serviettes
And I must have things daintily served.
Are the requisites all in the toilet?
The frills round the cutlets can wait
Till the girl has replenished the cruets
And switched on the logs on the grate.
It’s ever so close in the lounge, dear,
But the vestibule’s comfy for tea,
And Howard is out riding on horseback
So do come and take some with me.
Now here is a fork for your pastries
And do use the couch for your feet;
I know what I wanted to ask you –
Is the trifle sufficient for sweet?
Milk and then just as it comes, dear?
I’m afraid the preserve’s full of stones;
Beg pardon, I’m soiling the doyleys
With afternoon tea-cakes and scones. John Betjeman, How to Get on in Society
When the novel was invented life seemed more straightforward. There were those who owned the land and those who worked it. And both groups knew where they stood. But when people started to move from place to place they also began to move up and down in the world. This brought friction and misunderstanding. Sometimes just in the words you used. If language didn’t give you away, your taste would. We all think we know what a snob looks like. They think they are the bees’ knees. And never understand that in fact the joke’s on them. In books though it’s quite a different matter. Far from being odious a snob is a novel can be surprisingly good value, and offer not just laughs, they also provide a shortcut into larger themes about who we are and where we fit in. In fact for the novelist the snob is a secret weapon. Some of the greatest novels ever written have a snob at their heart. Faulks on Fiction: The Snob, BBC 2011
In 1861 for the first time Charles Dickens showed the creation of a snob ... Great Expectations. ibid.
Diary of a Nobody by Gordon & Weedon Grossmith was published in 1892 and records the daily battles against Life’s minor injustices of a Mr Charles Pooter. ibid.
His [Jeeves’] snobbery is one of reaction, and it is doomed. ibid.
Jean Brodie is both thrilling and alarming. ibid.
These people are peasants. Uneducated. Illiterate. Closed minded. Without ambition. Monica Ali, Brick Lane, Chanu
People here are by and large ignorant. ibid.
An intellectual snob is someone who can listen to the William Tell Overture and not think of the Lone Ranger. Dan Rather
I suppose there is no place in the world where snobbery is quite so ever-present or where it is cultivated in such refined and subtle forms as in an English public school. Here at least one cannot say that English ‘education’ fails to do its job. You forget your Latin and Greek within a few months of leaving school – I studied Greek for eight or ten years, and now, at thirty-three, I cannot even repeat the Greek alphabet – but your snobbishness, unless you persistently root it out like the bindweed it is, sticks by you till your grave. George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier
I could agonize over their sufferings, but I still hated them and despised them when I came anywhere near them. I was still revolted by their accents and infuriated by the habitual rudeness … All I knew was that it was lower-class sweat that I was smelling, and the thought of it made me sick. ibid.
Princes know themselves to be princes, and are not snobs; besides, they believe themselves to be so far above everything that is not of their blood royal that noblemen and commoners appear, in the depths beneath them, to be practically on a level. Marcel Proust, In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower
It’s a kind of spiritual snobbery that makes people think they can be happy without money. Albert Camus
Ah, beware of snobbery; it is the unwelcome recognition of one’s own past failings. Cary Grant
We must never confuse elegance with snobbery. Yves Saint Laurent
There’s a snobbery at work in architecture. The subject is too often treated as a fine art, delicately wrapped in mumbo-jumbo. In reality, it’s an all-embracing discipline taking in science, art, maths, engineering, climate, nature, politics, economics. Norman Foster
Sometimes there’s a snobbery among literary types that these people don’t really get it, but in a lot of ways they get it more than the literati. There’s a culture in the background that they understand and know. They get that deeper level. Irvine Welsh
Never keep up with the Joneses. Drag them down to your level. It’s cheaper. Quentin Crisp