Be good and don’t show off

For the past few years, I’ve been feeling out of step with a business culture that required me to ‘develop and promote my personal brand’, to ‘self-market’, within a company that I’d been a part of for 2 decades. If they didn’t know what I was capable of by now then they clearly hadn’t been paying attention. Showing off makes me uncomfortable. I know my Mum and Dad wouldn’t have liked it.

My increasing interest in history and anthropology informs me that I’m odd. Apparently, it is normal human behaviour to strive to succeed in life in order to acquire wealth so that you can display your status to the admiring glances of others. Why? I don’t get it.

You know when you get on with someone on-line – you seem to think in a similar way and hold the same opinions? Well so it was with @judeGibbons and I. We met for the first time this month and within minutes were having a good healthy moan about the state of Things. We discovered that we have similar family history. Jude proposed a theory.

Our grandparents were working class but our parents were raised to have aspirations for themselves and their children. During the post-war amnesty by the aristocracy, who had met and fought alongside the working classes for the first time, they had risen to the Lower Middle Class, through their own education and hard work ; via state-run grammar schools and then, for my generation, by comprehensive schools and free university but they weren’t proud of their achievements. They felt guilty for those who they’d left behind. They taught us that we could do anything we wanted but that we were to be modest about it, because others didn’t have the breaks that we’d been given and we weren’t to hurt their feelings. It could easily have been us.

They lift you up, your Mum and Dad – if you’re one of the lucky ones. But they teach you not to shout about it and to fight when rich kids try to take the same chances away from future generations. Or maybe we both decided that for ourselves, because of who they made us.


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