I argued that Lewes was one of the most middle class towns in Britain and cited two examples, one of which was this quote from an interview in local magazine Viva Lewes:
Question – “What did you have for breakfast?”
Answer – “I had baked millet and quinoa with steamed chicory and seaweed. And a cup of sage tea. My daughter had blueberries, yoghurt and nuts.”
That is only Exhibit A. I can produce a lot more evidence to prove that Lewes is a strong contender for the top spot, including the following signifiers:
- A market town with a Liberal MP
- Mainly pre-1900 buildings
- No branch of McDonalds
- A local currency
- At least two classical concerts per week
- A higher than average number of Lesbian couples
- A lack of chain stores
- Tasteful, subdued Christmas lights in the town centre
- At least half a dozen "lifestyle" shops selling overpriced clothes and kitcheware
- A high proportion of graduates
I tried to find a YouTube clip of one of my favourite Lewes activities, the Dance of Disobedience, during which a group of local people celebrated the life of former resident Tom Paine through the medium of dance. Sadly, I drew a blank.
However I did find this:
If you're still not convinced, check out the website of one of the most popular independent shops in Lewes (so popular, it now has three branches), Wickle. You'll find no nasty plastic children's toys in Wickle and if little Bruno wants a fire engine for Christmas, they probably have a tasteful one made from responsibly forested Norwegian spruce (actually, I love Wickle and I'm the proud owner of one of their very reasonably-priced wooden toy castles).
Wickle is the quintessential Lewes shop.
I could go on, but instead I'd urge you to join in the debate at Organic Peas and Orderly Queues, where you can become a middle class traitor! You don't have to live in Britain. I've witnessed the same phenomenon in the USA.
I know some people who have read this blog before might wonder, why do I keep banging on about class? Does it really matter?
Well, no and yes. On the one hand, this blog post is just a bit of fun, gently mocking the fact that we all too often express our individuality by slavishly imitating people who seem to share the same values. But there is also a more serious side to this debate, namely the fact that even in 2010, every newborn baby's destiny is shaped by a postcode lottery.
Visit any class of infants and you'll be struck by how bright and curious most of them are, regardless of their social background. Return six years later and the disparity between the middle class children and the poorest can be dispiriting.
As much as I make fun of certain aspects of Lewes, it comes closer to my vision of how life should be lived than most places, although I draw the line at quinoa for breakfast.
The Divine Comedy - the ultimate middle class band.