I’m reading this getting more and more agitated and then I return to its main metaphor for upward mobility:
An American (and non-brainwashed Canadian) would call it “the staircase.”
Think about it.
This bit is being quoted a lot in, yes, Victoria Wood obits:
I was part of what Richard Hoggart in a Guardian interview called “the escalator life, where you move inexorably upwards”. Hoggart knew about escalators – born into an impoverished Leeds family in 1918, he rose through academia. But he always wrote as though he half regretted the ride, writing in The Uses of Literacy, his autobiographical study of working-class life, that the upward journey made him lonely – awkward in the social class he now found himself in as well as the class he had left. The real test of the education that had elevated the scholarship boy, Hoggart wrote, would lie in his ability by the age of 25 “to smile at his father with his whole face and to respect his flighty young sister and slower brother”.
OK, I guess I’m temperamentally and psychologically the wrong person at which to direct such a test.
So on top of being successful, we’re required to be… nice, too? And humble or something? Ugh.
I had no desire to smile that way at my father. He didn’t deserve it or prompt it.
And I don’t know what this person means by “respect”. If it’s synonymous with “not kill with a shotgun while they’re sleeping,” well, I managed that.
But for me to get where I am, getting as far away from the flighty and the slow as quickly as possible was the only plan I ever considered. It took my mother’s death to finally complete this plan. Except for one brief culinary excursion, I have never set foot in my hometown again, or spoken to my “relatives.”
I have no regrets.
RELATED: Marlon Wayans talks about going from poor to successful. When he goes back “home” to the projects (I don’t understand why black people do this, visiting “they cuzins” or whatever), well, listen… He comes in around 1:09.