I had a trip in to the faire capital city of Ireland today: Dublin. Okay I’ll get this out of the way: I had a Frappacino in Starbucks and I’m a student; so not too poor of a student ;)
But I saw the inside of Brown Thomas for the first time. I don’t shop for fashion at all: but what I found was the kind of vulgarity and fake-ness I’d expect of London or New York; not Dublin. To paraphrase Bono: “In America if you have your mansion on a hill people look up to you and think ‘I want to be like him and afford a house like that one day’; if you have the same mansion in Ireland people say ‘look at the fucken eejit on the hill with that house; thinks he’s god or sumthen’” and that to me was always an endearing part of Irish culture; people around you being the great leveller if you thought you were the bomb. Inside BT (Brown Thomas) was all the names you’d expect; all the major names more at home in Paris, London or New York. I confronted my friend who was showing me round about my opinions (in my usual polite manner: just say it). To my surprise he agreed 110%. Yes he said: for the people who buy this stuff can tell who else is wearing it; and I think he meant that by this logic movers and shakers also wore all the brands to look the part. Soon after he told me he was also learning Golf because he knew it would be a great benefit for his future career: “All important people also play golf” he assured me.
I see this divide in society and I admit it bothers me. Where I go to College, there is an estate across the road which is by any standards not had the full benefit of the Celtic Tiger (the Irish Boom Economy). I get the bus from this place and everytime it bothers me that I see some social problems: everything from unruly kids trying to ruin the place to alcholics. But I also have people in my class from that estate: some of the nicest you’d ever care to meet. I’ve been asked by them my opinion on where they live and what do I think other people think.
Then comes my home town. It is on the border of Dublin (city) and Kildare (farmers and horsebreeders) and we’ve got a mix of both. But Leixlip is decidedly middle class; low enough crime; not much social tension to be heard of; certainly nowhere near the likes of South Dublin (seen as upper class) or North Dublin (seen as lower class). Which is why I don’t feel comfortable in either: maybe middle class is the real stigmata?