If you roll your eyes at Love Is­land, sneer at peo­ple’s choice of train­ers but couldn’t care less how they hold their knife and fork, it’s be­cause, says co­me­dian Bella Younger, you’re a firmly stuck-up, mod­ern-day snob

The Mail on Sunday - You - - EDITOR’SLETTER -

Brits in­vented snobbery. We have cul­ti­vated it, nur­tured it, and now it seems it has very much evolved. Airs and graces are for the out of touch, and any­one who isn’t Nicky Haslam would tell you they haven’t a snobby bone in their body.

Still, even though we wouldn’t care to ad­mit it, ev­ery­one is snobby about some­thing. My best friend’s mother thinks it’s wrong to keep toma­toes in the fridge, and my brother once threat­ened to call Child­line when he saw our plas­tic Christ­mas tree, but if I were to ac­cuse ei­ther of them of class prej­u­dice they’d have my head.

I grew up sur­rounded by text­book snobs. At school I learned that white shoes are ‘a bit Es­sex’ and that call­ing a sofa a set­tee was a crime. Get­ting a job in me­dia was a wake-up call – sud­denly, be­ing a toff was tragic. Quite rightly, no one gave two hoots about my opin­ion on Aga colours. Work­ing at the BBC, I was des­per­ate not to alert any­one to my back­ground (my grand­fa­ther was a sec­re­tary of state un­der Thatcher and my fam­ily are the last Tories in Scot­land). I thought I’d got away with it, too, un­til a pro­ducer asked me whether I could shoot at the week­end. I said, ‘Yes, my fa­ther has an es­tate in Scot­land.’ He said, ‘I meant can you use a cam­era?’ I never lived it down.

The snobbery of old feels out of touch – it’s for Hy­acinth Bucket or your least favourite great aunt. Now we all love Meghan, Eu­ge­nie is post­ing memes on In­sta­gram and it’s far more ex­cit­ing to see the Clooneys at a wed­ding than any­one with a triple-bar­relled sur­name.

How­ever, just be­cause we’re no longer judg­ing peo­ple on how they pro­nounce their vow­els doesn’t mean that snobbery isn’t alive and well. It’s the act of mak­ing ar­bi­trary dis­tinc­tions. Whereas be­fore you’d be judged on what you did and didn’t have, now you are judged by what you de­cide to do. For ex­am­ple, the mod­ern snob will judge you on the cof­fee you drink, which pizza crust you favour and which train­ers you wear be­fore they ask you where your par­ents sent you to school. Don’t be fooled by the ap­par­ent mer­i­toc­racy. Snobbery is still thriv­ing, it’s just got more spe­cific.

My food-snob friends won’t eat meat


from the supermarket – they pre­fer in­de­pen­dent butch­ers – while the book snobs sneer at my pen­chant for young adult fiction. And don’t get me started on an evening out with a burger snob (what’s wrong with Five Guys?). Mod­ern snobs are de­fined by their choices rather than their birthright and they want to make it very clear that their choices are the right ones. The mod­ern snob watches re­al­ity TV – but it’s Strictly, never Love Is­land. They go to fes­ti­vals – only Glas­ton­bury, not Read­ing. What you like or dis­like says a lot about you, but your Nike Flyknits are more re­veal­ing than how you hold your knife and fork.

Club snobs used to be sep­a­rated by whether they went to Boo­dle’s or Whites, but nowa­days a mem­ber­ship at the Grou­cho Club or trendy Soho House will see you held in much higher es­teem. When a friend in­vited me to the lat­ter for the first time, she said, ‘Please don’t speak too loudly.’ She was wor­ried they’d hear my clipped, bari­tone Dis­ney vil­lain voice and I’d give the game away.

The cool kids don’t care about class struc­ture and nei­ther should you. Cre­ativ­ity is the new cur­rency and tal­ent is be­gin­ning to trump toffs. Front rows are no longer for horsey aristos; the new elite are rappers and re­al­ity stars. Who wouldn’t rather be sand­wiched be­tween Ri­hanna and A$AP Rocky than Lady Vic­to­ria Her­vey and a man with no chin?

New money is as­pi­ra­tional and di­ver­sity rules. It’s much cooler to have bought your house with cash from your bed­room vlog­ging em­pire than to be spend­ing what lit­tle you have left on the roof of a house you in­her­ited. The old snobs wanted friends with ti­tles and mile-long drives, but the new snobs want friends with a dif­fer­ent kind of in­flu­ence. Fol­low­ers now trump acreage as the ca­chet du jour. And with Harry hop­ping on pod­casts and Wil­liam tweet­ing about the World Cup, it would seem that the only fam­ily it’s im­pos­si­ble to be snobby about are also jump­ing on the zeit­geist.

Snobs are still at large, but any­one can be one. If you have found your niche and know it well, you might be snob­bier than a clas­sic Sloane Ranger. Still, prob­a­bly best not to ad­mit it.


Meghan rock­ing her heels with Harry at last month’s Sen­te­bale Polo Cup

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