Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Of Posh Bashing, Benedict Cumberbatch and Noblesse Oblige

Mr Benedict Cumberbatch, the popular television actor, has sparked a mixed reaction following an interview with the Radio Times in which he has complained about "posh-bashing". In the said 'parley' Mr Cumberbatch rails against the 'predictable' and utterly tiresome treatment he has received on account of his being an 'Old Harrovian' who was not born into 'new money'. In what will no doubt be a heart-breaking pronouncement to his many 'female' fans, the thespian concludes the interview with a blunt ultimatum. In no uncertain terms he warns his tormentors that should this persecution persist, he will consider leaving the country and setting up home in 'LA'.

Mr Cumberbatch's asseveration that Britain has exchanged its centuries old tradition of contempt for the lower classes for one of open season on the 'upper', will come as no surprise to anyone who has followed the media's rapacious assault on those from privileged backgrounds over the last few years. The Prime Minister in particular increasingly seems to be judged less and less on the undoubted merits of his term and more and more on whether or not he owns a top hat. Studying the photographs of his current sojourn in 'Majorca', a destination clearly chosen 'by committee' for its plebeian reputation, one was put in mind of Henry II who, following the unfortunate death of St Thomas a Beckett, felt obliged to walk the streets of Canterbury barefoot, dressed in a horse-hair shirt to satiate the anger of the mob.

Class obsession is of course largely a fixation of the lower upper middle, middle, lower middle and upper working classes. I was raised to believe that the very mention of another's social standing was at best 'rude' and at worst downright common. One has been delighted to note over the years that one of  the many commonalities between the working and upper classes is a shared opinion on this matter. One rarely meets a gardener, domestic or 'general labourer' with powerful prejudices against their betters. By and large such people appreciate that the 'landed classes' have given much to this country. In turn those of 'good birth' long ago acknowledged that with power comes great responsibility.

Indeed the notion of 'noblesse oblige' trickled unabated merrily down the ages, until in the late 1960s it was dammed up by a conspiracy of chumps and left leaning 'satirists'. These very types have dominated the media ever since and one concludes that it is they, burdened  by their very real sense of inferiority who have so enraged Mr Cumberbatch by 'type-casting' him in an endless stream of high profile 'posh' roles.

One very much hopes that 'Benedict' shall rise above all this and that he shall not feel the need to follow the example of brave Thucydides and go into exile. I have never been to LA but I am led to believe that it is  a gruesome place, chock full of grasping, rather ghastly little people with ideas well above their station. It would be a dreadful stain on the British nation if we were responsible for condemning this young artist to such a monstrous fate. Ad astra per aspera!