Although I like to think of myself as a bona fide member of the middle classes, I know that my RP accent, well-chosen wines and tasteful watercolours are a smokescreen. Deep down, I belong to the respectable working class - an extinct species who regularly went to church, didn't drink alcohol and owned the complete works of Shakespeare.
I thought I'd successfully expunged the shackles of my background, but there are still a few vices that remain, including a fondness for net curtains (plain, I hasten to add), a sentimental attachment to the Royal Family and a weakness for crysanthemums.
When I discover photos like these, from a collection that turned up last week, it is as if I have found a lost album from my own family's past:
If you were a member of the respectable working classes, then you had standards to maintain. It didn't matter whether you were in your back garden or on a beach; you didn't dress like the ruffians who frequented the local social club .
There was a good reason for this. My mother's grandfathers spent their leisure time drinking, gambling and siring illegitimate children. If their wives complained, they were beaten. The generation that followed took their revenge by signing the Pledge, going to chapel and assuming the trappings of respectability.
My maternal grandparents died long before I was born, but their photograph albums feature people who look exactly like this:
As you can see, there is a slightly punk rock gesture from the man on the left, but overall, with their waistcoats and watch chains, these gentlemen are the epitome of respectability. Indeed, the man with the large head even went bathing in a full suit:
However, when posing with a loaf of bread, he always wore his best flatcap:
Here is a rare colour shot. The woman in white's skirt features a pattern that reminds me of a pair of curtains from 1990:
This album stopped somewhere in the early to mid 1950s, but in the same box, there was a single, loose photo from more recent times:
They look as if they're having a good time, but now that I'm middle class, I would naturally insist on bringing my own supply of St Peter's Organic Ale and locally-sourced sausages.