Culture TV

Top of the class

I awoke this morning to the sound of heavy rain hitting the veranda roof. Why is it on dry mornings, the paper delivery person (I’d love to say paper boy, but who knows – I’ve never seen them – perhaps the paper is delivered by telekinesis or obedient monkeys or androids) drops the paper underneath the car, but on mornings like this, when it’s fiercely pissing down rain, it gets dropped in the middle of the driveway, so even though it’s got its nice (hopefully biodegradable) plastic wrapper on it, it still gets drenched?

On Friday I couldn’t quite resist buying this double DVD set of the Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes series. Probably too expensive for what it is, but I watched the first of the three telemovies last night and man it’s good. For a story told as often as Hound of the Baskervilles to be as gripping as it was is something of an achievement, and the acting and production values are first rate.

It got me to thinking a little about how western society has developed over the past couple of centuries. Assuming that the class system portrayed in such works as Sherlock Holmes and Gosford Park are correct, right up until about the 1920s, at least in English society, there was a clear delineation between the class levels. But during the 20th century, possibly due to rising wages and the development of cheaper and more efficient domestic appliances, the idea of having a permanent staff to serve one’s dinner, do one’s washing and ironing and cleaning slowly disappeared, to the extent now that only a tiny percentage of the population would have this kind of help these days.

Okay so it was probably always a tiny percentage of the population that had this kind of help, and the drama of the period (written at the time, and later) tends to concentrate on the power brokers, rather than the smelly underclasses. And with the whole Paul Burrell thing, I wonder ultimately how good it would be to have a paid employee with such intimate knowledge of your life.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.