Opinion pieces

Downton lives on

In celebration of our anniversary last week, my partner and I decided to try something new — pay over $20 for a meal. We reserved a table and wore our fanciest clothes, managing to avoid the other diners’ classist spidey-senses through our correct use of the cutlery and ‘grown up’ discussions. Everything was going smoothly. That is, until the table next to us reached their third round of Toblerone martinis, their loudened conversation providing new levels of interest for the evening.

I’ll set the scene — four middle-aged white women, with the same expensive blonde haircut, having a ‘girl’s night out’ away from hubby and kids. It’s the kind of scenario that only seems to exist in sitcoms, and they somehow managed to conform to every privileged stereotype I have ever known to exist — and done my best to avoid.

I was alone at the table when they began discussing their children and all of the extracurricular activities designed to help them become ‘better people’, a conversation that would evolve into ‘which child I love most’. I’m sure all parents have had this discussion, but it was quite disconcerting to witness. Congratulations to Thomas and Madison, your parents love you the most. Apparently if your mothers had to shoot one of their children, you are undeniably the safest. Hopefully you never know this information.

Another Toblerone martini each and their conversation had shifted to the state of the economy, and how their husbands were so much worse off, being forced to pay more taxes than ever before to support the needy. Clearly these people should just try to be successful, rather than dragging the wealthy down! It’s here I should mention these drinks cost close to $25 each, so I don’t think any of these women were falling too close to the poverty line.

With their ability to drop a few of Hockey’s key buzzwords, we were lucky enough to hear these ladies insight into the system overall — this ‘welfare culture’ we’re in is being funded by those unfortunate rich people, obliged to help support disabled people who ‘aren’t really that disabled anyway’, and fund a universal healthcare that we soon learned should apparently be regulated by these four tipsy women. They then proceeded to debate over whether people who are directly or indirectly responsible for their own injuries or illness should be refused free healthcare.

By this stage I’ll admit I was feeling a little classist against these rich women and their conversation, and by the time the sentence “you can’t keep raising taxes on the rich, there’s just no incentive for people to be successful anymore!” was uttered, my partner and I were ready to leave.

There was something horrifying about being confronted with the reality of an upper class most of my friends are disconnected from completely — a class similarly so disconnected from the middle and lower classes that they so openly criticise. With my partner and I’s running commentary of these ridiculous comments, I said, “These women have no idea about the silver spoons they have.” We looked up to see each quite literally holding a silver spoon of dessert up to their lips.

So Thomas, Madison (and your less loved siblings), you are likely to grow up in the same glowing little bubble, and may even be rich and powerful like your parents — but I hope you’re not too disconnected from the universe. At least the night gave me a full tummy, a new anecdote, and a new personal best in my ability to show restraint, even if at the cost of a slightly raised blood pressure.

Jasmin Ashton

Originally published at hijacked.com.au.

image from itzafineday


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