Over the Christmas holidays my godmother took me to tea at Browns as a birthday treat and I was duly instructed by my mother to dress up smartly as it is one of the nicest hotels in London…however when I was there I saw a number of people in various outfits from little old ladies in their fur and diamonds to a boy who went in in muddy grey trackies and trainers prompting me to think about class and tradition here. What once was seen as incredibly ‘posh’ now seems to be far more lenient and a general day out (I didn’t see the boy come out again so I assume he was allowed in!) and dressing up for some functions seems to be the reserve of our grandparents’ generation. Despite people complaining about private schools and the people who go there everyone seems to live a fairly affluent life and there isn’t much that people in this country go without. For example, if you are determined enough you are perfectly able to succeed in life and, if you are so inclined, send your children to places and to do things which you never had the chance to. Even members of our royal family have married people who were not even titled, something which would never have happened a few centuries ago, definitely making it seem that the idea of the class system is antiquated now.
Maybe traditions are changing to reflect this, such as at the theatre where I have been volunteering where, although we have to dress up for performances at The Stahl and must never ever wear jeans, many people turn up in casual clothes, even for the evening shows (though I will admit that it is hardly the West End!) Perhaps our traditions and our entertainment has changed to be far less formal now that it is accessible to everyone and seems to be less of a ‘big deal’ or maybe somewhere along the way someone decided that they didn’t want to dress up and forewent formal wear…
And yet sometimes I wonder what it would be like to see everyone decked out in their finery for an opera performance, something which still seems to be done mainly by the ‘upper class’. We’ve technically lost our aristocracy and yet there are still things which are decidedly ‘posh’ such as polo and hunting. Nothing stops anyone from doing these things so why is it seen this way aside from it being an old tradition?
So, perhaps it is not the most fascinating subject but it probably says something about us as a culture. We seem to want everything and be able to have it but still refuse to actually go for it, ideas of a class system which seems to have been abolished in everyday life and yet still persists in other areas holding some people back.
In any case the tea was fantastic.