Yesterday, what was a dull and muggy July was enlivened for many of us by the news of David Brook's sandwich gaffe spreading across the internet as the twinkling points of fire spread from Eddystone to Berwick bounds.
Brook decided to write an Opinion for the NYT under the headline How We Are Ruining America
. Surprisingly, this didn't mention fracking, withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accords, electing Donald Trump, disbelieving in evolution and vaccination or deciding to take meetings with dodgy Russian lawyers promoted by even dodgier "music PR" people from Bury*. It didn't even touch on the US workplace culture as depicted in AAM, which goes more Hieronymous Bosch daily
No: Brook has apparently just woken up and noticed:
Over the past generation, members of the college-educated class have become amazingly good at making sure their children retain their privileged status. They have also become devastatingly good at making sure the children of other classes have limited chances to join their ranks.
No shit, Sherlock. "Middle Classes Have Sharp Elbows And A Propensity For Drawing Up The Ladder Behind Them: News At Eleven."
Anyway, it appears that Brook was flabbergasted to realise this (why did he think
Emily Post's works were bestsellers from the 1920s onwards, and that Judith Martin took on her mantle as "Miss Manners"?) and penned an opinion piece, which included this immortal paragraph:
Recently I took a friend with only a high school degree to lunch. Insensitively, I led her into a gourmet sandwich shop. Suddenly I saw her face freeze up as she was confronted with sandwiches named “Padrino” and “Pomodoro” and ingredients like soppressata, capicollo and a striata baguette. I quickly asked her if she wanted to go somewhere else and she anxiously nodded yes and we ate Mexican.
The phrase "Insensitively, I led her into a gourmet sandwich shop" has a rare beauty. It's like "I flicked my thong at him in a small, subtle, flirtatious gesture."
Fascinatingly, Brook had no hesitation in attributing his friend's horror to her class-based unease at the concept of Italian words applied to food, rather than her flabbergasted horror that somewhere, even in NYC, had the cheek to charge that
for a tomato sandwich. Nor does it occur to him to do a quick translation for the benefit of his friend, along the lines of "That one's salami, that one's salami with slightly bigger bits of fat in it, that one's tomato, and that one's the house special." "Which is?" "Salami with tomato."
Anyway, Twitter reacted as one might expected, and various other upper middle class New Yorkers leapt athletically (it's all that yoga and Pilates) to his defence. Among them, my own particular favourite was Megan McArdle who came out with the classic
Holy assumptions about your audience, Batman!
Anyway, class in America. It's all about the Italian ham, apparently.
*Anyone wanting to know anything about Rob Goldstone, ask the M.E.N., apparently. ETA
And talking about the M.E.N, I was led serendipitously to this oldie but goodie Shock of Salford's 'bus pass matador' after £500k cannabis farm is discovered in the loft of his woodland mansion
. I particularly liked the summary at the bottom of the article (which was mainly about the need for a "root and branch" approach to cannabis farming):
Frank has been flourishing his cape in the ring for around 50 years and is set to compete in Mijas and Seville in the coming weeks, despite turning 70 in 2012.
He retired with a dodgy knee at the age of 65 and has undergone a quadruple heart bypass operation, but made an unlikely return in 2009.
As well as fighting under the name of El Ingles - The Englishman - Frank was a winger with Sale rugby union club for eight years.