‘Posh envy’ is consciously or unconsciously disliking people because they are posh and you are jealous of them. So do I have posh envy? Let’s break it down…

For those of you who aren’t English and don’t know this because you haven’t lived it; a definition: being posh is something you are born into and you cannot ever become posh no matter how much money you acquire in your lifetime. It doesn’t matter whether you marry someone posh, how many degrees you’ve got, how you’ve changed the way you speak, or even if the Queen herself has given you a title. In England you’re either posh, trying to be posh, or on the common end of the scale (that’s where I am).

In my life I’ve met some brilliant genuine posh people whom I really respect and admire. The ones that come to mind are two retired English army officers (50 years plus), posh ex-pat brats (children of posh English people, often the kids of army officers who grew up abroad), and also old school posh in general (over 60 years old). But then, I tend to get on better with older folks than I do with people my own age, so that’s not a surprise.

I also tend to be charmed by posh eccentrics. I like them and find captivating, everything from their impeccable manners to their crisp speech. I especially love how they tell stories, how they use language so richly, or how they simply just don’t give a fuck. Among the real posh there is a high proportion of eccentrics. The rest of the posh or the upper middle class, then no, I don’t really care for them at all because these ones do not value individualism; they sign up to the status quo.

I like that posh exists because I find it very English. On the other hand, I’m glad I don’t have to deal with posh everyday. For me it’s better when it’s a rarity—then it’s the same like catching a glimpse of a rare bird in flight. If I had to deal with it everyday, let’s say if I had to work with posh, then in most cases it would get on my nerves and I would stop to notice its beautiful feathers. Working with posh is in fact annoying, because posh looks at the world in a very different light and does favours for other posh.

The good thing about being born posh, I imagine, is the security of place it provides. It gives you a firm background in all the little things that help in life, from the way you speak to the manners with which you conduct yourself. You also don’t generally have to worry about being totally broke, homeless or not being able to afford to have children or own a house. In most cases, if you are posh, you will be looked after regarding the things that matter most. You will often also be supported with connections—having access to good jobs which is supposed not to be the case anymore but still is in reality.

For my own part, I am happy to be who I am today considering that to get here I crawled myself out of the gutter. This way I know I did everything for myself, with no special favours included. I also know that had I not grown up in South London to a Cockney mum, I would not have learnt about authenticity. I would have learnt about manners and the ‘proper’ way of being, but I wouldn’t have learnt what it means to stick two fingers up to all of that and to be who you are anyway.

That said, I have explored a bit of posh. That came from university and from travelling to ex-pat kinds of places. I like it, but I don’t belong there, as indeed I don’t belong anywhere 100 percent!

I also realise as I age that the women I really admire and in fact aspire to be more like, due to their authenticity and charisma, are common as muck. The list includes both Amy Winehouse and Jade Goody, both deceased (maybe their authenticity can be seen and valued because it is gone now). These two were also very rare birds, but the sad thing is that they did not live long enough to become phoenixes. There was another older Cockney woman in a wheelchair I overheard in an airport bar in Cyprus recently—she had everyone laughing with her direct way of speaking and insulting jokes that touched a nerve. As I sat there I thought to myself, I’m going to express myself like you when I’m older.