I was pottering around town on Good Friday, as you do, when a reporter with 'BBC' sewn on her jacket and a discrete microphone asked if I had a few minutes. There was no camera, and I had a couple of minutes - so, what the hell!
Interviewer: Can you name the social classes?
Me: A, B, C1, C2, D - is there an E?
Interviewer: Oh, most people just say working class, middle class ...
Me: Maybe they don't have a degree in Social Administration. [Oh heck, that sounds patronising.] It was a long time ago.
Interviewer: So what social class would you say you are?
Me: Why does it matter?
Interviewer: Well, if someone wanted to, say, sell you something; then they might want to know.
Me: What has class got to do with whether I need something or not?
Interviewer: (Sighs. I am clearly not giving the right answers) Did you know that they are increasing the number to 7?
Interviewer: They are including things other than income, and house-ownership. For instance, what do you do in your spare time?
Interviewer: That's not on the list.
Me [Knowing she needs me to be more helpful]: I like going to the theatre.
Interviewer (Smiles, at last): So that put's you higher up the scale.
Me: What do you mean, higher? Are you saying that, just because I enjoy the theatre that that is somehow more valuable, more significant, than someone who plays bridge, or goes to bingo? Surely we're all just people choosing how we spend our leisure time?
At this point the Interviewer turned the microphone off, and thanked me. I asked her what it was all about, and she told me it was a slow news day and the BBC decided to go out and ask random people these fatuous questions. (Well, she didn't use the word fatuous - but I did.)
I've no idea if this was ever broadcast (I doubt it). There was a big spread on the BBC website yesterday about the 'New British Class Survey', but I wasn't sufficiently interested to plough through it. But it did make me think. I understand there are slow news days, and the BBC has to fill the time with something other than silence - but surely old recordings of The Navy Lark or Beyond Our Ken are more interesting than that?
And - I know there are social differences that we lump together under the category of 'class' but how helpful is it to foster these by asking ridiculous questions? Would there not be more merit in inviting passers-by to reflect on what we have in common (a need to love, to be loved and cherished) than things that underline our divisions?