Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: The C Word

249 Responses

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  • Jackie Clark,

    See, Emma, I think the dress is practical. I have never seen a dress that was so much the essence of it's owner. That's practicality right there. An externalisation of your very innards? Priceless. And fabulous.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Dempsey,

    @ Jackie - SNAP. similar situations for me... and hopefully same outcome though one never knows.

    Parnell / Tamaki-Auckland… • Since Sep 2008 • 659 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Also, my Nanna didn't really believe in buying clothes from shops. You did for yourself.

    My nonna was only ever allowed to own one non-black dress - it was green. Green! - but soon enough there was a wedding or a funeral and her mother in law made her dye it black.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    I think there's something wonderful about owning clothes that look good on you, establish your personality, and present you to the world as the person you want to be. In NZ, like everywhere else, those degrees of freedom depend on your income.

    I'm mildly upset by the fact that my favourite line of $130 jeans have been discontinued - but when I compare that to childhood of picking things from the $5 bag places, I realise I'm pretty lucky right now. Mind you, I still buy very few things in a year. The difference now is that those things are much higher in price and quality.

    I suspect, but do not know, that most people live somewhere between these poles.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Like Isabel, our family has sort of bobbed around on the class border for the last couple of generations.

    When I think about it, my grand-parents peered out of Alan Bennett's various memoirs of his parents. "Class" was a test of character -- you might have several payment to make on the pot you pissed in, but it was a matter of pride that you worked hard, lived within your means (however close you came to the border), and paid your bills in full and on time, kept an orderly house. You clothes were seldom new, and never fashionable, but they were scrupulously clean and well-kept. I guess that would be easy enough to sneer at as middle-class wankery, but I found the flinty resolve at the heart of it rather admirable.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    Oh, I love Alan Bennett. I love the voice he gives to people like your grandparents, Craig. Now I have lovely voices in my head.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I don't do squees but suffice to say that internally I am doing little whoops of joyfulness.

    That actually sounds even nicer than a squee. A multiple squee?.

    I'm pleased to have elicited this revelation. As for the race, well, I may not have 899 pages, but I'm also not angling for any prizes other than the finish line itself, so perhaps I've got a chance. Don't slacken the pace, Islander, this marathon ain't over till it's over :-)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    @Islander, and all the other bookie types around here:

    pats 899 pages of ms*

    Ooooohhhhh! Goody goody goody.

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • James Edwards,

    How often do people beg you for money walking around NZ?

    Every day. A window into poverty that comes with every city-centre apartment!

    I suspect they don't mention that in the Property Press.

    Auckland • Since Sep 2009 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    What if you remove real estate agents from the equation? They even call me up to beg.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    Did anyone else find it disturbing to discover Emma drinks instant coffee?

    Oh and all this discussion about a dress and no picture?

    As for changing class, I'm not sure you really do change class but making the transition from being able to buy one Greggs spice per week to just shopping for food you like is definitely a good transition.

    @ Islander
    Congratulations it must feel great to get the words out.

    What if you remove real estate agents from the equation?

    nirvana?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    But is it any less weird than the familiar trope that class does not exist in any concrete form in New Zealand, because it can be transcended ? This it seems, is essentially what Key and Clark stories tell us.

    The trouble with that one is that it happens just often enough, in the public eye, for the meme to perpetuate itself.

    I'm not sure how close New Zealand's class movements are to America's, but currently, in America, if you're born in the bottom 40% socio-economically, your chances of making it into the top 40% are just 4%. Compare that with the common myths of class. Pretty depressing stuff.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Wegan,

    As for changing class, I'm not sure you really do change class but making the transition from being able to buy one Greggs spice per week to just shopping for food you like is definitely a good transition.

    I'm not sure you do, either, but I think maybe you develop the ability to move between them?

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1275 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    your chances of making it into the top 40% are just 4%

    Only 4% do. Which isn't quite the same as only 4% can. Some of the problem for that bottom 40% is even realising a different way of existing is possible.

    That said the US is incredibly class conscious, while at the same time denying it. And the divisions are pretty scary. In our time in college Station Texas we drove down one street lined with massive mansions owned by the university elite and two streets over were the (negro) janitors occupying condemned houses.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Did anyone else find it disturbing to discover Emma drinks instant coffee?

    No, I found it empowering. Now I can confess my own dirty instant coffee secret. Sometimes, if the milk is too low to make a latte, I'll drink instant, sometimes even more than one cup. Also coffee bags are a lovely alternative to all the mucking around with a percolator. This from a man who's been middle class all his life.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I'm not sure you do, either, but I think maybe you develop the ability to move between them?

    So people become multi-class? You have to start at zero XP in the new class, though.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    We're classless all right, but only in the British sense that we have no Lords or Barons. To cut a long story short, the class divide has become privatised, with celebrities and CEO's standing in for the aristocracy.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5420 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Wegan,

    So people become multi-class? You have to start at zero XP in the new class, though.

    Maybe not multi-class. Just maybe good at faking it for one or the other.

    Or maybe it's just a matter of not caring either way.

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1275 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    I bought a dinner jacket a few years ago

    Does it make the food taste better? My father-in-law was recently taken aback when I told that I have never owned a suit (other than a crushed velvet horror in the 1970s). Just wondering if anyone else has remained suitless.

    Because it is Friday and certain liberties are permitted: has anyone listened to the new Arcade Fire Suburbs? I think it might be a grower because it doesn't have the immediate zing of Neon Bible or Funeral. But I have started playing the "City Without Children" track repeatedly, for it has a most tremendous base line.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2539 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Does it make the food taste better? My father-in-law was recently taken aback when I told that I have never owned a suit (other than a crushed velvet horror in the 1970s). Just wondering if anyone else has remained suitless.

    Me. Although in my early twenties we were going to go to a funeral and Mum said wear your suit and I said what suit and she said the suit your grandfather made you and proceeded to lecture me on my inability to keep track of things until it occurred to me that my grandfather died when I was ten so the chances of this supposed suit still fitting me would have been slim.

    (If you read this aloud you're probably going to need a glass of water now. I'll wait.)

    We did however find the trousers of the suit years later, and Joseph has worn them for a cultural day at Berhampore School. They're absolutely gorgeous.

    Then when I graduated (aged 29) Mum bought me a suit and brought it over to NZ for the ceremony, but it's at least two sizes too small, which is just as well since she appears to have bought it at Al Capone's Haberdashery and Bullet Shop. I can see how it would probably intimidate potential employers into giving me the job if I wore it at an interview, but otherwise I don't care to look any more like a walking stereotype than I already do.

    So yeah, still suitless.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Like Isabel, our family has sort of bobbed around on the class border for the last couple of generations. My mother was a teacher,

    I went through student politics with a person who claimed to be working class because his mother was a teacher. We sniggered but he was adamant.

    He was a friend of Chris Trotter's and used to hang out in the corner bar of the Cook as part of that crowd.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Darlington,

    When we were at uni, one of our friends turned up with a couple of guys who "worked for the council". Actually in white collar jobs, but even though they made more than we did because they were working good jobs and we were students, a lot of us still looked down on them because they were Council Workers, and not properly educated.

    Oi, I'm a council worker! I know stuff'n'shit... :)

    Nelson • Since Nov 2006 • 948 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    I went through student politics with a person who claimed to be working class because his mother was a teacher. We sniggered but he was adamant.

    Teaching is unionised. Therefore working class. Certainly not a profession anyway. Something like that.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    I went through student politics with a person who claimed to be working class because his mother was a teacher. We sniggered but he was adamant.

    He was also right. Go figure.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Just wondering if anyone else has remained suitless.

    My partner. I was going to say "every man I've ever owned", but in fact my ex-husband had a tail-coat.

    Did anyone else find it disturbing to discover Emma drinks instant coffee?

    Just had one now. And in another minute, if I want, I can have another one. I do have a large stash of Eden's wonderful plunger coffee, but there's not point wasting that drinking it before my taste buds are awake.

    So people become multi-class? You have to start at zero XP in the new class, though.

    Yes, and yes. But there are particular abilities and advantages that can transfer across both classes and really help out, like being observant, and a good mimic, and having great boobies.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

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