Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Rosemary Behan: oh so fashionably anti-working class

It’s seems that having a go at the lives of ordinary people is becoming a highly fashionable sport these days. No doubt spurred on by the Tories condescending ‘Tosser’ campaign - The Times (London) commentator, Rosemary Behan, has decided to let rip on all those people who have the temerity to bring themselves and their families to what Behan describes as “[h]ell’s fiery pit” – or in other words, the post-Christmas sales.

According to Behan, the people who go to the sales ‘show Britain at its ugly, undignified worst’ – stupid me for thinking it might be Britain’s foreign policy in Iraq, or Afghanistan that showed such things. Forget about the Helmand province, or Basra, for Behan, ‘hell’ is Brent Cross shopping centre – so who needs the Taleban or Islamic insurgents, when one has to rub shoulders with women who think nothing of buying ’17 pairs of shoes’?

For me, ‘hell’ would resemble downtown Baghdad, or even uptown Mogadishu – however, for the likes of Behan, it seems that such places pale into insignificance compared to being all alone, and unarmed in Next clothes shop, surrounded by packs of ‘wolves’, who cause poor shop assistants to run for their lives. Oh come-on Courtney, it’s a little bit of harmless tongue and cheek you might say, but to me, it’s more like organic munching, eco-miserable, middle-class prejudice masquerading as insightful sociological comment.

Behan concludes that in 2007 we should just ‘cut up your cards, leave the car at home and get a life’. I’d argue that highbrow miserabalists like Behan should speak for themselves.

Picture: Christmas rush in the Royal Arcade Norwich. By Robert White



At 5:21 PM, Blogger bob said...

Great post! Happy new year Courtney


At 12:00 AM, Anonymous Lucyp said...

Agree with you once again. Her new year resolution was not to be more of a snobby tosser (Copyright Tory Party) then.

At 10:45 AM, Blogger Cheezy said...

It will take someone of stronger moral fibre than myself (which might be most people, to be honest) to not shiver inwardly at the 'baying wolves' shopping scenario that Behan describes.

But you're quite that she does go over the top about it. I mean, I hate shopping jaunts to soulless malls... but not as much as I hate unnecessary wars.

And there's no excuse for the casual racism contained in her comment -- "Perhaps even more depressing was the way in which Hindu and Muslim families joined in the orgy — as if this were the only stage upon which our shared values could be truly celebrated."

Only someone who writes for the Times (or maybe the Telegraph) could have written that sentence!

I'd suggest she does what I do and simply avoids retail parks in Beckton (and the like) during this period.

At 5:31 PM, Anonymous a very public sociologist said...

Yes, excellent post. I detest the toffee-nosed windbaggery undergoing a renaissance in the so-called quality press.

At 11:11 PM, Anonymous Longrider said...

"Hell is other people" - Jean Paul Sartre.

As a closet misanthrope, I have a sneaking affinity with her general sentiments. You wouldn't find me within a million miles of the January sales; too many people, too much pushing and shoving... And she does have a point about the behaviour even if she does rather over egg the pudding.

Having said that, yes, I do take your point.

At 3:04 AM, Anonymous ruth said...

I agree with you once again too Courtney. So many so-called 'libertarians' ie necocons are dismissive of the so-called poor. Ths is a great blog and exemplifies what I think libertarians should stand for.

Please post more often ;-)

At 6:36 AM, Blogger The Intolerant One said...

The same things would apply here in Canada regarding the coverage of post Christmas shopping.

I do see this article (and similiar ones like it) from a different perspective. Although we can both agree that there are far more atrocities going on this world not every writer is going to address them as is the case with Rosemary. (They can't all write about foreign policy, someone has to write about the "happenings" at home)

However, I think she touches on a reality that is often ignored. That being the "abundant blessings" many of us have in our countries and how we often take them for granted.

On the one hand we should not feel guilty because we happen to live in more democratic countries where food and retail are not only available in bulk but also happen to go on sale from time to time. BUT we should be ashamed of ourselves when we behave like a bunch of spoiled brats in a mall by, as Rosemary points out, "breaking out in scuffles" or "able bodied persons parking handicapped spaces" to beat the rush for the big sales.

I felt the article more or less addressed (in a "tongue in cheek" manner) the embrassment caused by the insatibale appetites of greed by the consumers who obviously take their freedom for granted.

By that I mean, while many suffered loss this Christmas, others who recieved much were still not pacified, even after the holidays.

At 6:14 PM, Anonymous Ellee said...

I agree with Ruth's comment too, each to their own really, it's not harming anyone to go to the sales and spend your Christmas money, it's what many people want, though not me, I avoid them because I don't like crowds. Behan sounds quite elitist and out of touch.

At 12:45 AM, Blogger Jeff K said...

I hopped over to your blog from Ultrablog and was immediately impressed and hooked. There's an unmistakable war against the working class in the U.S. as well, though our politicians attempt to mask their contempt because, well, they need the votes, while your Conservative Party wears the contept as a badge of honor. Please keep up the good work, and I'll definitely add you to my daily blog reads.

At 5:20 PM, Blogger Roland Dodds said...

This reminds me of the way folks who shop at Wal-Mart here in the States are looked down upon as if shopping there reveals some kind of moral character flaw. Both the right and the left in this country attack folks for shopping at a place they can afford. Pretty sad.

At 7:42 PM, Anonymous Ellee said...

Thank you for your excellent comment today. I look forward to your next post.

At 9:42 PM, Anonymous Ellee said...

Courtney, why so long since you have written a new post?

At 3:39 AM, Blogger Arthur_Vandelay said...

According to Behan, the people who go to the sales ‘show Britain at its ugly, undignified worst

I can relate: I worked in an upscale department store over the Xmas period.

At 5:53 PM, Blogger Colin Campbell said...

Pray how does this snooty toot think that Western Economies go around. Is not retailing one of the lynchpins of the drive for profits and prosperity and the very basis for some of the largest economies in the world. Why not buy when things are being offered for less than the amount that the retailers would like to charge, so that they can clear their shelves for more stuff that many people do not want or need.

At 5:26 AM, Blogger the zoom said...

Did Clinton fire her first shot?

This is from the NY Times on Al Gore. Looks like he is preparing to run for president and the Clinton camp is worried.

From a Rapt Audience, a Call to Cool the Hype

At 1:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I have a message for the webmaster/admin here at

Can I use part of the information from this post right above if I give a link back to your website?



Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home