Much as I'd like to be gritty working-class, given to brawling in pubs, I know I’m middle-class, defined by what I do and what I avoid doing.
I avoid package holidays, Bargain Booze shops, displays of sentimentality, pizza, Sloanes, the whole of the Iberian peninsula bar Portugal, playing competitive games, seaside resorts, small cars, steak dinners, many forms of youth, front lawns, ash-trays and Huw Edwards.
I bang the drum for Lyse Doucet (BBC’s Canadian correspondent in Gaza), John Lodwick novels, non-patronising explanations of quantum theory, the sign Dégustation gratuite, Richard Strauss orchestral songs, Helmut Schmidt, blanquette de veau, Alastair Sim, BBC4, the role of the short-stop, the Diafani - Vananda - Diafani swim, zinfandel and the Marais area in Paris.
Very occasionally these boundaries are crossed. In the UK fish-and-chips is, or should be, classless yet VR and I knew we weren’t getting the best out of this delicious meal. VR tracked down the reason. We were using namby-pamby, utterly middle-class white wine vinegar on the chips instead of robust, even vulgar malt vinegar, Hence the Sarson’s, our gesture towards a fairer society. In a plastic bottle, naturally.
First verse of two:
A slumber did my spirit seal;
I had no human fears;
She seemed a thing that could not feel
The touch of earthly years.
Reasons why. Are we able to judge this (as poetry) without the second - obviously resolving – verse? Rhythm impeccable, the imaginative use of “seal”, the enticing emergence of “she”, and of course the conciseness of “earthly years”. I say a resounding yes but I’m merely your mediator.