Are you posh enough to crave a Fray Bentos steak pie? It’s one of the surprising signs – along with thinking Champagne is overrated and preferring Aldi to Harrods – that show you’re a toff, writes MARK PALMER
The more things change, the more they remain the same.
That seems to be the conclusion after a survey’s findings last week about the telltale signs of poshness in modern Britain.
Boarding school, family heirlooms, membership of a private club, skiing holidays, calling friends by their surnames, loose-leaf tea — it’s a predictable list, but on several counts it’s completely ‘orf’ the pace.
‘If you have to read a posh list to see if you’re posh, then you’ve fallen at the first,’ says Leo Chin (not his real name), compiler of the Chin Dictionary, an update on the 1980s bestseller The Official Sloane Ranger Handbook.
Thanks, Chinny Chin Wag, old bean, but here goes — and it’s not a definitive list by any stretch of a toff’s imagination, but one that draws on some personal experience.
Insist wedding speeches (and sermons) should never be more than nine minutes long
Long to find a shop selling tinned Fray Bentos steak and kidney pie
he more things change, the more they remain the same.That seems to be the conclusion after a survey’s findings last week about the telltale signs of poshness in modern Britain
My grandparents had a butler, footman, chambermaid, cook, chauffeur, under-chauffeur, all of whom ‘lived in’. They (my grandparents, that is) changed every night into black tie for dinner even if it was just the two of them.
They called the staff by their surnames but were devoted to them. They believed in ‘standards’ in the way happy-clappy Christians believe in God — unwaveringly and rooted in the comfort of certainty.
For poshos today, being ‘woke’ doesn’t refer to the butler arriving with breakfast, but it would be nice if it did from time to time.
‘It’s far more subtle to be posh than people think,’ says posh interior designer Nicky Haslam.
To be posh is often to be counter-intuitive. You can be funny without telling jokes; smart but scruffy; drunk but erudite.
So, let’s doff our caps to the really, really posh who…
Know how to tie a bow tie with their eyes shut and would rather spend a week with Jeremy Corbyn in Benidorm than wear a clip-on job.
Prefer to play tennis on grass and occasionally link up with a mate at Lord’s for a spot of Real Tennis.
Never wash the car — a blurry number plate might come in handy.
Bank at C. Hoare & Co, the country’s oldest privately owned bank (founded in 1672), where letters until recently were signed: ‘We are, Sir, your obedient servants’.
For poshos today, being ‘woke’ doesn’t refer to the butler arriving with breakfast, but it would be nice if it did from time to time
Do not get divorced.
Join Radio H-P, an eBay for ‘people like us’, who use it for anything from letting a holiday home to finding the perfect nanny.
Host a music or literary festival rather than go to one.
Have a ‘family pew’ in church.
Have a brown sign pointing to their house on the nearest motorway.
Maintain the same speed when driving over a cattle grid.
Pee on the drive after dinner.
Like fake flowers.
Hate the theatre.
Light an open fire all year.
Eat kidneys for breakfast, with black coffee.
Have a residual fondness for wonky lampshades.
Spell badly but shoot accurately.
Are partial to a Negroni — especially if made with Del Professore vermouth.
Drink Foxdenton 48 London Dry Gin.
Turn off any lights not required for a specific purpose.
Regard sell-by dates as acts of aggression to be resisted. There is nothing wrong with mould on the cheddar. Cut it out and eat as normal.
Consider boarding school unnecessary. State education is not to be feared, and will make an acceptance to Oxbridge more likely.
Insist wedding speeches (and sermons) should never be more than nine minutes long.
Think champagne is over-rated and prefer a good glass of Majestic’s Macon-Villages.
Have no problem with carpeted bathrooms.
Encourage smoking indoors.
A bath is always a luxury
Encourage smoking indoors
Wear shirts with frayed collars and cuffs, which are only dispensed with when they fall apart completely and then are used to polish the silver.
Admire polite children.
Only shoot on weekdays.
Join the HHA (Historic Houses Association).
Subscribe to The Oldie and read other people’s Country Life.
Answer to a ridiculous nickname.
When staying in someone else’s house, make a point of sticking a nose round the kitchen door to thank the cook and always leave a tip on the bedside table for the cleaning lady.
Are enraged that HS2 is splitting the estate.
To be posh is often to be counter-intuitive. You can be funny without telling jokes; smart but scruffy; drunk but erudite
Open the house annually to the public to qualify for tax relief under the HMRC’s conditional exemption scheme.
Ignore an over-personal question without comment.
Prefer Aldi To Harrods.
Prefer silence at breakfast.
Send handwritten Christmas cards and are appalled by those who picture their own family on the front rather than the Holy one.
Know Latin names for flowers.
Have scrambled eggs for supper.
Cried during the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral.
Believe a bath is always a luxury and should never be taken for granted.
Use the words toilet, settee, and serviette liberally. The irony is in the inflection.
Assume that visitors to the house love dogs and have no issue with Rex sniffing guests’ genitals.
Long to find a shop selling tinned Fray Bentos steak and kidney pie.
Reckon the posh young’s tendency to talk estuary English (William and Harry went through this phase) is fine — to a point.
Never set the central heating above 20 degrees.
Feel sad about Prince Harry, enraged by Meghan because ‘we welcomed her with open arms and her mixed race was a bonus’
If not at the right place at the right time, excuse themselves by saying: ‘I was in Pizza Express in Woking.’
Describe being shot at in Afghanistan as ‘quite fun’.
Say ‘The name definitely rings a bell’ but mean ‘I have no idea who you’re talking about’.
Wind the clocks weekly.
Feel sad about Prince Harry, enraged by Meghan because ‘we welcomed her with open arms and her mixed race was a bonus’.
Never start with ‘So’ before saying something and always avoid a ‘like’, as in ‘and then I, like, left the party’.
Have drawing rooms that are never used.
Go up to London even if living in Yorkshire.
Have a visitors’ book and make guests sign it — but take a dim view if anyone leaves a comment such as ‘fab venison’.
Value family above all.
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