Knowing Our Place

Napoleon was partially right when he described England as a ‘nation of shopkeepers’. Actually, it is a nation of shop assistants living in fear of the owner and his undue authority. I was in a local supermarket this weekend and watched an exchange between managers which resonated of the iron grip of the class consciousness which holds this country together like shit mixed with superglue. A middle manager was being upbraided by a sharply dressed visiting dick swinger about some trivial, banal nonsesnse relating to cheese. I could tell she was a middle manager because she was wearing her own clothes and gripped a clipboard as if it was Ceasar’s Eagle and she was naked beneath. Her terror lay in the idea of a return to the ranks which may involve the humiliation of branded overalls, lifting boxes and directing halfwits to the tinned soup.

If you give somebody just a little authority, a parking space and soft toilet paper, they will slit throats and abandon their kids to hold onto it. Thats the trick. Her pompous VIP visitor, lets call him Mr Twat, had every Ace, King and Queen in the pack and he played them like a veteran. A white, middle class male with a cut glass accent you could use to sever his windpipe. His suit was expensive, his shoes were exquisite and he had the bearing and confidence of his advantaged background. He smelled her fear and he washed in it. He shouted, pointed and generally abused the poor woman.

As he strutted off, she stood red faced and humiliated grinning in fear and uttering ‘sir’ like a mantra. I expected her to spit his waste out across the fruit and veg and make for oral hygeine with some haste. The temptation to follow him and shove family sized tins of salmon uo his rear was strong but I made do with abandoning my paltry shop and doing one. Hopefully, it will be the loss of that £2.85 that will finally sink Tesco. It is this servility, this willingness to hold our hands out to be slapped which has been bred into us and is exploited like a tracking device.We are programmed to know our place and to thank our tormentors for the cracks from the back of the hand.

The senior manager knows that the middle manager will savage the junior manager who, in turn, will lay waste to the minimum wage staff. This fear of slipping a social rank is combined with a dark, sad need for the trinkets. Staying on the train a few stops further into the suburbs as a pay off for puking up your dignity on demand.A bigger car, a greenhouse, his n her towelling and week in the sun.

This willingness to bow to authority is what allows the establishment to leave the cell door unguarded knowing that the prisoner is too frightened to escape. Why we don’t object to living in poverty and being demonised for struggling. Why we allow pompous clerics, media control and the funding of an uber wealthy old German family who feed off our backs.. We let the ruling class steal the entire treasure chest and kick us whilst we make sacrifices to replenish their coffers.

I used to do a bus journey to work and there was a particularly odious, snobby, loud mouthed ingrate who did the same journey, Three junior members of his staff would get on and, clearly with heavy hearts, take their place at his self appointed majesty. He would tell crap jokes and they would laugh to the point of incontinence. He would express an opinion on any subject and they would nod with wide eyed enthusiasm.On particularly excrutiating journeys he would give one a pep talk in front of the others. Finally, I caught him alone on the return journey. It was this time of year and he had had a drink. Whilst he dozed, I ripped up a fag packet and wrote ‘I know what you did and i will tell your wife’. I slipped it into the outer sleeve of his briefcase. At worst, it will have confused him. Hopefully, it gave him sleepless nights.



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