Confliction Between the Past And Present

It’s been a long time since I last wrote a thought provoking blog. For so many reasons, I’m not really sure I should be writing down some of these thoughts. But I’ve never been one to shy away from controversy so here goes!

I’ve been reading the book, “A Night to remember” the account of the final hours of the ship Titanic. That book has opened my eyes to a lot of theories and thoughts I’d been having but not had the ability to express until now.

Anyone who knows me, knows I love the TV show downton Abbey. I love the idea of the big house, functioning through wealth and the different tiers of structure in place. The modern woman in me, tells me that’s wrong and equal opportunities is far better and class movement is exactly what we need.

Reading this book, has defined some of my romanticism and my utter disgust that Steerage passengers were thought, and thought themselves less than valued compared to first and second class passengers. Life pre first world war, had a strong class system in the British Isles. People had their place and knew where they stood in society. They often never challenged their social status and lived their lives on the same level for most of it.

Sure, there were exceptions and social leapers and people who advanced through one means or another but many were happy to know their place and never leave the comfort of the boundaries that set.

For us, in the 21ST century, this can be deemed as barbaric and unfair and very anti any human rights laws. But there is that romantic side of my consciousness, and I firmly blame my creative imaginative and idealistic side for this, that tells me that somehow, sometimes, that was a happier and less pressured place to be.

Before you slam you laptop lid or throw your smart phone across the room with vex, I urge you to hear me out.

Today, it’s about the promotion, more about what the latest technology we have, the best car, the nicest house, the best everything…then, it was about surviving and living every day like it was your last. You could literally die the next day, and people seemed to take life at face value and not always try to outdo everyone else.

In the business world, the pressures we know today were definitely prevalent. But for those in the working classes, it was tough but they knew their lot and they enjoyed life. As long as they had food and a warm hearth, the bigger things didn’t matter as much.

I know my opinions on the aristocratic circle will not be received well. And again, this is possibly my romantic side coming through, but the upper classes employed so many people to run their house holds. I saw recently on a documentary how the servants of the 19th and early 20th centuries changed dramatically. Big households, no longer employed two or three or more ballets…they didn’t need many scullery maids with the advancements of technology, and now most modest households who may have used people in service only have two or three members of house hold staff.

I will happily admit, when in Downton [yes, I know its a fictional show], the footmen were reduced to only one and Mr Carson as the Butler, I was devastated. In some ways, giving people freedom of class has also given them a level of snobbery. Many in service were proud to serve and appreciated the job and the roof and regular food, whereas now, scrubbing a chamber pot, [oops, toilet], is seen beneath many.

I feel so conflicted, not because I don’t want people to better themselves or live better qualities of life. I don’t want people going hungry and being cold and working crazy hours and not enjoying life but I feel with all that advancement, we have also lost so much.

No longer do we embrace family time and evening meals together. we take food for granted and eat to levels of absurdity. We spend our money frivolously and we constantly complain about our lives, work conditions as a society.

I, like many others are guilty of getting angry when the convenient public transport breaks down, but many women who worked 2 centuries ago may have to walk many miles to get to their jobs. Some may work many more hours than I do and still manage to run a household.

So although part of me, craves that ideology of this nice little world where people appreciate and live happy lives in their neat little boxes, I know that wasn’t always the case. But I wish some elements of that time and that lifestyle crept their way into our society. I wish there were more people willing to do jobs that many in 19th century Britain would have killed for and in turn, I wish those jobs were available. But in the same breath, I wish respect for those employees would be taken as given as in some cases it rarely was. I also wish, we appreciated the world we live in and had a lot more respect for people. Many youngsters, talk to older people, people who have lived decades longer themselves like shit. People don’t take pride in their work and some customer service has almost certainly gone. I do feel, that stems from this equal world we strive for. It gives the bell boy in a hotel the cheek to ask for a tip, or a girl in a sales assistant role chew gum loudly and merely ask what do you want as apposed to greeting in a nice manner. Do I believe we should reinstate the class system? No, but I do wish some respect had been left over from that time period.

Structure can often lead to well organised, functioning systems, when no structure is in place, chaos can in-sue. In part, I feel that has happened in many ways. We’ve equaled up to everyone, including figures of authority and respect is rarely seen bar a few.

Going back is never an option, but sometimes, I wish we could.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. This is a rather thoughtful and indeed thought provoking blogpost. Are you looking in fact for order and manners more than anything else? I was born and raised in a very average income family in a less fashionable London suburb, and my wife was raised in a family which at times was dirt poor. She ought to be a Jeremy Kyle reject. Yet we have similar values because despite their different levels of financial security, our families were filled with love, plus having many brothers and sisters between us, we’d soon “learn our place” within the family pecking order. And although our parents didn’t do perfect jobs of raising us, we were both taught manners – for the simple reason that they prevent conflict when there is no need for one. I don’t think its an exclusive trait of the wealthy to feel entitled – your example of the sales assistant chomping on gum is a good example of someone who feels herself too “good” for the job, and contemptuous of those she serves. But I think its a trait less of one of harking back to one of some “golden” age you’re conflicted about, its just I get the sense you believe there was a greater level of politeness and refined behaviour around. Manners for the sake of them, or because you choose this route, is one thing. Being deferential to the local earl or the man with the big top hat, just because both you and he believe himself to be somehow superior, Downton Abbey style, is a class trait I’m happy not to have to experience. At least until the Tories get another five years of taking us back to 1910! Anyway, more articles like this, Marie. You have a nice, clear way or saying what you think. Cheers.

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