If your ma puts on a different voice when she answers the phone, then you’ll get this

Brianna Parkins: I’ve often ‘Eliza Doolittled’ myself – to get a job, or service in a shop

Brianna Parkins: ‘Anyone with more than one bathroom in their house, and matching glasses not stolen from the pub, is considered posh by my very low standards.’ Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Brianna Parkins: ‘Anyone with more than one bathroom in their house, and matching glasses not stolen from the pub, is considered posh by my very low standards.’ Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

Occasionally I have to trick people into thinking that I am not the type of person who enjoys monster truck rallies – exponentially more craic than going to the rugby. That I am posher than I am. If you are asking me why I have to do this, it means you are posh, or at least think you are. If you are from a house where your ma puts on a different voice when she answers the phone, then you’ll know what I’m talking about.

I’ve had to “Eliza Doolittle” myself for a number of reasons over the years. To get a job at a fancy department store flogging Chanel perfume. To get decent service at the same department store by shop assistants trained to spot time-wasting customers by our cheap shoes. I’ve gone to extreme lengths to “pass” so much so that I once told a real estate agent I played golf. He had noticed that my friend had a club in her car. We didn’t tell him it was because she worked in a dodgy bar, walked to her car late at night, and kept it as a precaution against over-amorous customers.

Rule number one of renting is making sure the real estate agent thinks you’re the ‘right kind’ of person, ie there is a slim-to-none chance you’d turn the flat into a cannabis grow house

“It’s better to let him think we have a boring hobby and wear unflattering trousers than thinking there’s a chance we could commit physical assault,” we reasoned at the time, nodding sensibly at each other. Rule number one of renting is making sure the real estate agent thinks you’re the “right kind” of person, ie there is a slim-to-none chance you’d turn the flat into a cannabis grow house.

So this is how I go about passing for posh. Although, I should start with a caveat that anyone with more than one bathroom in their house and matching glasses not stolen from the pub is considered posh by my very low standards. Really, this is “how to pass as reasonably middle class”.

Doing things ‘properly’

Posh people are mad and like to do things that poor people do, but only after we have stopped doing them. This means shopping at vegetable wholesale markets, making things from scratch unnecessarily – bread, hummus, gin – and carrying out manual labour. But for fun instead of money. In fact, bizarrely, they pay people for the privilege of being a farmhand. They call it apple picking. They put photos of making their kids perform child labour with their little buckets on Instagram.

They boiled down the bones for two days, filling the house and our hair with the smell of an abattoir with a lax health and safety inspector

A few years ago I lived in a shared house with some friends who teased me for eating margarine instead of butter and for saying “youse” instead of “you all”. They were well-paid creative professionals, who insisted on “saving money by doing things properly”.

Like the time they refused to buy store-bought chicken stock, so off they went instead to the butchers in 200 Doc Martens to get a bagful of chicken carcasses for free. They boiled down the bones for two days, filling the house and our hair with the smell of an abattoir with a lax health and safety inspector. “See, that’s how it should be done,” they said to each other as they ate chicken soup every night for four weeks.

My grandmother’s family did this during the war ration years in regional Australia. When I told her this, “But stock is $2 a packet down at Aldi” was her confused response.

What to wear

Clothes are another one. Buy people’s old ones and call them vintage. See, when you are poor, you spend a lot of time and mental effort pretending not to be. You don’t shop at the charity shop proudly if you have been called a “pov” at school. You buy clothes with little signs on them. Nike, Adidas. The bigger the logos the better because they say, “I bought this, this is brand new, see, I can afford this, please be kind to me”.

There’s also a particular trend to wear Soviet era-style tracksuits with wrap-around sunglasses. I call it ‘low-level train station speed dealer chic’

But then posh people got weary of this. Head-to-toe branding is now tacky. They moved the goalposts and now young people in particular dress as if they covered themselves in glue and rolled into my dad’s wardrobe. Lumpy Aran sweaters. Levi 501s resting on chunky New Balance shoes.

There’s also a particular trend to wear Soviet era-style tracksuits with wrap-around sunglasses. I call it “low-level train station speed dealer chic”.

Mullets are also making a comeback among rugby circles. It’s like the teenagers of south Co Dublin are cosplaying as “my dad’s dodgy mate down the pub from 1998 – yeah the one who sold us the illegal Sky box”.

Physical exertion

They love making themselves uncomfortable on holidays. Going down a frozen mountain with sticks strapped to their feet is great craic. Hiking is another one. They have to call it hiking because “big walk” doesn’t sound impressive, does it?

When asked if he was planning to grow his own food on the estate he replied, ‘God no, I enjoy going to Lidl too much’

A friend of mine decided to trek to the Everest base camp. She used up all her annual leave and insurance excess on getting winched off the Himalayas in an emergency heli-evacuation after getting a “coming out both ends” bug. Her mother shook her head. “This wouldn’t have happened if she had just come to the family caravan.”

She was right. You can’t really go wrong sitting on white plastic furniture overlooking the pool, drinking your way through an all-inclusive package. Just don’t admit this out loud.

And what about the truly posh? Well they don’t really care about all this. This week I hung out with a real-life Lord, while we filmed a package. When asked if he was planning to grow his own food on the estate he replied, “God no, I enjoy going to Lidl too much. I like their pretzels.” 

See, it’s only us chancers in the middle, anxiously trying to fool other chancers.

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