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Recent events in the United Kingdom have shown that the British class obsession is alive and well. The Brexit referendum vote split largely along class, although geographic and demographic factors were also in play. The subsequent change in government really drove the point home, with the elite David Cameron set vacating Downing Street in favor of Theresa May, the vicar’s daughter, who took great pains to assure the British public that the government would be more responsive to people outside the upper crust.
Writers have churned out tomes of material on British class distinctions, which often revolve around speech. Remember My Fair Lady? For an amusing, more up-to-date look at the phenomenon, a couple of videos by Jade Joddle are embedded below. A “working class” girl who went to university, as the Brits would say, she has carved out a huge social media presence in her current incarnation as an English language coach. First lesson: if you want to be perceived as elite, you gotta talk posh! 🙂
How do you evaluate legacy cultures? Intelligence Squared organized this fascinating debate about the relative contributions of ancient Greece and Rome, held at Westminster’s Central Hall last November. The debaters are almost as interesting as their subject. Boris Johnson, the colorful outgoing mayor of London and a possible future prime minister of the United Kingdom, makes the case for Greece. Mary Beard, professor of classics at Cambridge and the engaging host of numerous TV documentaries, counters that the Roman heritage is more relevant to today’s world. Both call on actors Max Bennett and Niamh Cusack to read passages from ancient authors to bolster their arguments.
The organizers polled the audience about their preference for either Greece or Rome, and then polled them again to see who was more successful at changing people’s minds. Who won? That would be telling, wouldn’t it. Watch the video. It’s long, and maybe best digested in pieces, but worth it. Not all primary votes take place in the USA. 🙂