In the news this week, British jockism scored a smackdown at international sports day in China, with tellies across the country sagging under a brief and terrible invasion of those kids who were popular at school. Oh, and Peaches Geldof got married to her boyfriend of one month. Hold the front page.
Can anybody tell me the point of Peaches Geldof? What is she for, exactly? She seems to dabble in all sorts of things – music, modelling, journalism, presenting – as mere facets of an amorphous party-going social entitlement born of pop-heredity. It troubles me, because I know so many brilliant, truly talented aspiring musicians and artists and writers and models who aren’t making it, who may never make it, not because they aren’t good enough but because they don’t get the breaks, because their daddy isn’t anybody important. Meanwhile, Peaches could fart and SoHo would applaud.
See also, Daisy Lowe. See also, Pixie Geldof. See also, Mark Ronson, Alice Dellal and Alfie Allen. See also, Jaimie Winstone, noted daughter of Ray, who’s currently starring in the 3rd-wave feminist retrospective,‘Donkey Punch’. See also, Coco Sumner, she of the broad shoulders, glossy tawny locks and distracting tartan mini-skirts, noted daughter of Sting. See also, every damn member of the gurning post-adolescent Hanoverian clan, grown up soured by grovelling, fawning, belly-exposing media worship. What the hell happened to meritocracy in this country?
At a recent debate at Portcullis House, David Lammy MP, Minister for Skills, noted the stalling in social mobility that has dogged the UK for the past decade and more. “Class is still very firmly on the agenda,” he said, “and we need to start thinking about what stories we can tell about class, education and social mobility.
“I think it is legitimate for the Labour party to have something to say about excess in the upper eschelons of society. It’s not the politics of envy – it’s the politics of humanity.”
Every morning, I drag myself onto the bus to work or school or my other work and am assaulted by lazy press adoration of a clutch of young people the same age as me and my mates, purely on the basis of their wealth and heredity. Was it really ever thus? The truly fascinating thing about the Geldof, Lowe, Allen and their ilk is that their parents’ generation really were, in many ways, self-made. They came from an era where celebrity actually meant something because it demonstrated that, for example, four young kids from lower-middle-class Liverpool could take on the world and win if they tried. An era where talent and ambition and charisma could win you success no matter who your daddy was. Where you could go to university and work hard and make something of yourself. But a generation later, the snivelling, forelock-tugging British obsession with lineage seems to have reverted to type, and with it, a new acceptance of social class as a measure of worth and entitlement.
Heredity is the rotten trench running through this society, and after barely two generations of social progress we are reverting to type. The sons and daughters of artists, musicians and politicians who made their names the hard way are raised for a life of privilege in which the cringing British press supports them from the moment they’re old enough to be papped. Celebrity used to be aspirational; it used to mean more than who your daddy was. We used to be better than this. Let’s hope we remember it before too long.