The following is a writing (essay, blog, thing?) that I wrote because I was quite bored and frankly, find writing journals pretty dull. I would just like to say before I begin, that I love England, even if this Study makes it appear that I do not.
The average English man and woman lives in much the same way as anybody else. Television, alcohol and the weekend are the chief hallmarks of life, not matter your postcode. The only differences may be that (if you’ll allow me a stereotype) Barry is watching the Manchester V Birmingham match and sipping ale and Crispin is dithering about in Chelsea watching the BBC news and thinking he’s sophisticated when he’s just a prude and sipping at expensive malt whiskey. The result is the same. Burger King exists on every street corner, tabloids cheerfully inform us of Katie Price and Strictly Come Dancing’s scandal, and the kitchen table has much the same discussion as in every other part of the world. Philosophy, religion, politics and what-colour-curtains-shall-we-buy rule supreme regardless of language or hemisphere.
Minimum wage is quite minimum (a little over five pounds, which equals under ten Australian dollars) and universities are generally standard (unless you attend Cambridge or Oxford where one-on-one tutorials presumably count for something), and people usually work in leaning skyscrapers in the City, or quiet suburban offices in well, the suburbs. Children go to school, adults go work. Weekends are set aside for going to the seaside (Brighton, Blackpool, and other overpriced and overhyped blackholes of culture) or visiting grandparents or entering those colossal Westfields that dot the land like gigantic pimples on a teenager. Sports (cricket and tennis in summer, football and rugby in the winter) are the people’s game and are played in every field and on every street and on every pub television. Music, too, and the old traditions of music hall and jazz still permeate the beachside towns and the nowhere villages like a perfume, and the top forty guides one briskly through HMV like a plague. The are pubs with garage bands and disco and tribute acts and crooners and jukeboxes and DJs. There are clubs with ‘celebrity DJs,’ and an entry fee that could be used in better ways (feeding a small country, for example). Pub fare food is cheaper than Australia and on the whole better, less trendy and more filling. There is no monopoly on supermarkets like in Australia – along with Tescos and Sainsburys are Waitrose, Morrisons, LIDL and ASDA and a host of high street shops that will sell you a whole platter of exotic sounding food from the far East. Newspapers are as equally terrible as in Australia, though there are moments of cleverness in amongst the terrible right wing-ness of the nation’s largest papers. Television is unabashedly terrible but there are shows like QI and Have I Got News For You that pull you through the muck. One does feel though, in London at least, that one is living in the epicentere of something (what, I cannot answer) and there is a sort of togetherness that feels rather lovely and jovial, and oddly heartwarming. Perhaps having come from somewhere as provincial as Adelaide, anything feels more happening than the Channel 7 news and the Malls Balls.
Living, it seems, is not particularly dissimilar from Australia, but the middle classes are financially closer to what we would describe as the upper working classes, and the upper middle classes are closer to what we may say is the upper classes. The difference between living in Penge or in Putney is tangible and so relevant it’s almost irrelevant. But then, the difference between living in Adelaide and living in London is so dissimilar it’s almost similar.