The test to show whether one is working class or not is a simple one. If you share your bath water, you're working class.
Unusually, this evening it was my turn to get in the water first. Being more used to the tepid hair soup Dickfingers leaves behind and looking forward to a posh bath I undressed and quickly hopped in, hopping back out again even more quickly with my feet now having the appearance of being clad in purple socks as a result of their brief immersion in the scalding liquid. I stood by the bath, steam rising from my puce trotters, and ran the cold tap whilst swishing the water around with my hand, causing it too to take on a similar tint to that my feet now bore.
Eventually, I felt brave enough to try again, though this time with a good deal more trepidation.
I tested the water first. One foot slowly immersed, a few "oohs" and "ahhs" and a little bit of wincing, but fine. I followed it up in the traditional way and, once both feet were comfortably planted on the enamel surface, I began to carefully lower the rest of myself into the still scalding water.
Still, the water was clean and wasn't going to go cold on me any time soon and so, once yet more cold had been added, I lay back, relaxing and listening to the radio for a little while.
I caught the end of a discussion regarding a school that had ranked their GCSE students ahead of their exams. When I was at school, about to take my 'O' levels because I'm THAT old, we did something similar in the form of mock exams, practicing for the real thing. We were given the results in plenty of time to demonstrate where any weaknesses or gaps in our knowledge lay and, therefore, had a chance to improve our performance.
Or, as was the case with most members of my own circle of friends, just give up and start applying for YTS courses.
It was a useful system and I did indeed get better marks second time around, although never having given any consideration to a possible future career it turned out that the whole shebang had been a complete waste of time.
The children at the school being discussed on the radio hadn't taken a mock exam. Their teachers had written a report on each of them and a private company had collated and analysed these reports. The resulting data was then used to give a "league table" of the children's intelligence and the children were then told how thick they were, who they were thicker than, which child was the least thick and which of them was the thickest.
And the results weren't confidential.
Some of those involved in the radio discussion were upset that this "test" might lead to the more stupid children being bullied (In my school, it would've been the brightest that suffered the most) and pointed out that, since the results were revealed just a few weeks before the children had to take their GCSEs, it was a futile exercise with no real benefit to either student or teacher.
Many years ago I read a book, Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, a most enjoyable tome. Thought provoking, clever, exciting and with a sad ending.
I love a good, sad ending.
Many of you will have read the work, many of you won't, so here are the basics:
It's far in the future.
We're encouraged to consume.
People have helicopters.
People have a lot of recreational sex.
People take drugs.
People do as they're told. Usually.
But, to me, one of the most interesting aspects of the book was the description of the social engineering taking place. The children of this brave new world are no longer born but are "decanted", manufactured, then kept in hatcheries and conditioning centres rather than raised by their (non-existent) parents. A caste system operates and those children chosen to be a member of the lower castes, those destined to sweep streets or serve fast food, are chemically interfered with before "birth", deliberately limiting their intelligence so they don't get any dangerous ideas above their station. Everyone (almost) is happy, fed and useful.
Fucking brilliant idea.
It occurred to me, whilst soaking in my slowly-cooling-but-still-far-too-hot bathwater and waggling a soapy finger in my lug-hole, that if someone were to write a prequel to this remarkable piece of literature then the first chapter would describe a school somewhere in London and the end of term process of teachers grading children and deciding which were to be given the GCSE examination paper and the key to a decent life and which were to receive an application form for a fast food outlet or YTS.
We've not yet begun decanting our offspring, but it's not beyond the wit of man to imagine a time when we can, and once that time comes I can see no reason why, once the novelty has worn off and the furore from the pious has died down, we won't.
Every slippery slope has a peak.
We can't manufacture children in factories. We can't ensure that a child from a lower caste isn't going to get any highfalutin ideas of fairness or equality. Yet. Right now, our children are free range, but the farmers are getting tired of rooting around in the undergrowth for the eggs. Soon, they'll be forced to farm more intensively. Maybe one day they'll use chemicals to improve production, each child prepared for the life they're about to lead with a cocktail of pills to make them either clever or thick depending on the staffing levels at the local Maccy D's.
Lay in the tub, i came up with a far easier way of deciding on the caste of a child. Rather than wasting our hard earned taxes paying private companies to come up with meaningless and potentially harmful algorithms that compiles a report filled with spurious data is simply to visit the child's home on bath night and check if he's bathing in clean, clear water or wallowing in hair soup and, thereby, if you'll allow me to push my agricultural metaphor far further than I probably should,..
...separating the wheat from the chav.