Sunday, 11 October 2009

Snobbery

"Ah, beware of snobbery; it is the unwelcome recognition of one's own past   failings." (Cary Grant).

This is really one of my pet hates in life.   Not that I think about it a great deal.  I guess at my age I've come across snobbishness in all shapes and forms during my life, and I tend to tut inwardly and roll my eyes and just ignore it.  Unless I can see that someone being snobbish is actually offending or hurting someone else.

I was reminded of this recently when my in-laws were staying.  My father-in-law is a snob.  He is like a lot of people who start off  with very little but strive during their lives to achieve more in the way of position and material wealth, but instead of just appreciating the fruits of their labours, they somehow think that their achievements make them  better than everyone else.    My father-in-law likes quality in everything...nothing wrong with that of course...but he doesn't seem to accept that not everyone can afford quality.  He is very set in his ways and I know from his family that they tolerate his behaviour.  It's more difficult for the Turks to stand up to or argue a point with the head of the family.   But I'm not Turkish and I don't tolerate his behaviour so readily.

He criticised almost everything during his stay, and when one morning I had prepared breakfast for him as usual, he sniffed the cheese and said where did you get this?  I told him that Mr Ayak had brought it along with other food when he came over to welcome them on their arrival.   FIL then asked me if I had any different cheese, because this cheese was sour, inedible and of very poor quality.   So I replied that, our finances are such that we don't actually "do" quality....and that Mr Ayak had probably had to borrow the money from his boss to enable him to buy it anyway.   FIL was not happy with my response.....how dare I answer back!

Anyway, I just thought he was being his usual nitpicking self, so I was a little surprised when I went to market with my neighbour some days later, and we met up with some of the other village women, and they were asking me if my in-laws were still here.  I said they were and they proceeded to tell me that he was a snob.  Now I didn't know the Turkish word for snob but the gestures they made (flicking their noses with their fingers) were quite clear.  And I clearly understood that they don't like him because he thinks he is better than them.   They are also surprised that Mr Ayak is his son because he is nothing like him!  And judging by the hugs and kisses and pats on the back I received from them, I guess they sympathise with my having to put up with my father-in-law!

Intellectual snobbery is by far the worst kind, in my opinion.   It usually manifests itself, not in those people who are truly intellectual, but in those people who THINK they are.  The intellectual snob will dominate a conversation, usually with people they know may not have as much knowledge as them and they will sneer at the responses from those they deem to be inferior to themselves.   But  have you noticed how they  keep quiet when in the company of anyone who is intellectually superior to them? 

I have posted on a good many forums (or fora for those intellectual snobs amongst us) and the one thing that really gets to me is the person who sets themself up as the "grammar/spelling police".   They feel it's their role to criticise or "joke" about those they think are illiterate.  I have on more than one occasion objected to this.  There are many reasons why some people are not so articulate as others...it doesn't mean that what they say is not of value.  It's what people have to say that's important...not how many mistakes they make when they say it.

When I attended grammar school many years ago, it was at a time when Speech Training was part of the curriculum.  For the first year we had 5 lessons a week of "how now brown cow" and "the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain" with the sole aim of getting rid of our accents and enabling us to speak the Queen's English.  The repercussions were awful for an 11 year old like me, who lived on a council estate, where my family and the neighbours all spoke with a broad Berkshire accent....I was labelled a snob...and I was ostracised as a result.   Needless to say, I hated the school and the extreme snobbery that existed there, and left as soon as I could.

Snobbery will always exist...more's the pity...such a shame people can't just accept themselves and others for what they really are, instead of trying to be something they are not.
   
             

12 comments:

  1. You could live without FIL's attitude...he must have some idea of your finances, and it would better become him to accept what you and his son have to offer without comment. Very rude of him and he wouldn't dare do it outside the family, either.

    Do so agree about the effects of snobbery...the person who knows most is usually the quiet one, trying to learn more, while the insecure nitpickers try to knock out the competition!

    Pity people aren't more secure about who they are, what they do and what they sound like but I don't think a society which classes your worth by the age of your car helps much in this respect.

    Pity also that some can be such pains in the proverbial while they take out their inadequacies on the company assembled. For someone shy they can be very hurtful.

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  2. Oh I agree entirely with what you say Fly. Particularly your last paragraph. I used to be very shy in my youth and often felt intimidated in such company. But you learn some valuable lessons with age. Those who shout loudest are usually doing so to cover up their inadequacies and most people can see through them.

    As far as FIL is concerned...yes I was offended at the time...but I won't lose sleep over it! Although if I knew he was nice to everyone else EXCEPT me then I would be concerned. I can fully understand now why Mr Ayak left home as early as he was able to.

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  3. It is strange that as I get older I feel I can stand up to injustice better. At one time I wouldn't have said *boo to a goose*.
    FIL must have been a great pain and I am so glad that you managed to stand up to him.
    Theres a lot of truth in what you said about accents. I was forced to lose my broad Northern accent when as a child, I moved from the North to the South because I was bullied about it at school. Yet when I visited back up there they then thought me a snob! Thankfully we don't have that kind of thing happen so much now & people are accepted for what they are, accents and all.

    Nuts in May

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  4. I agree Maggie...confidence to confront injustice certainly does improve with age.

    I like it that accents are more acceptable these days. You may remember, like I do, the days of the BBC accent. All the presenters had the clipped posh accent...and most actors in the films of the day were the same.

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  5. I once worked with a wonderful girl in Ireland called Pat. We worked in an Embassy. One day, one of the diplomats wanted a hot lunch so we organised some take-out pizza. He wanted knives and forks so we had some plastic knives and forks. He didn't like them because they were plastic. Pat replied, cool as a breeze, "you're lucky to be getting anything!" I mean, it was only an office, there was no canteen or kitchen staff or catering facilities. We had a good laugh over that, and luckily, 'his lordship' saw the funny side of it. I encounter a lot of snobbery here in India. A good sense of humour will see you through these situations, I always find!

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  6. Oh indeed Gael...a sense of humour is essential! If I ever lose mine it's time to give up!

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  7. Without wanting to boast, I'm a bit of a wine expert, but I see a lot of snobbery amongst fellow wine people. Friends are often nervous about bringing a bottle of wine when they come to dinner with us, but I tell them not to worry. It would be rude in the extreme to simply tell them they brought rubbish.

    It's actually rare that they bring something really bad, but if anything, I may give some constructive criticism. Your FIL could have said something like if you're looking for a budget option, try this one, or let me buy you some nice cheese.

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  8. Heiko..There's nothing wrong with being an expert on something, it doesn't necessarily make you a snob. And yes constructive criticism is always welcome as far as I am concerned, but diplomacy is not in FIL's vocabularly I'm afraid!

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  9. Oh I hate snobbery as well, who doesn't? And I always try to see that I never put up that attitude.

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  10. Fil sounds like a complete bore and he is obviously living in his own bubble. I can´t imagine that the man has many friends and by the sounds of it I´m not sure the unsophisticated rural life ( to him) would suit him. But it might do him some good.

    I hate snobs too and I try to avoid them.

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  11. Recipes: I think some of us may at times have snobbish thoughts, but we choose not to express them if we care enough not to offend people.

    Amag: Yes this rural life might indeed bring him down a peg or two.

    Jazzy: Yes I know you do!

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