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“Crucibles of Snobbery”

I suppose you get from a place what you seek. In over all terms I love the town where I was born and brought up. I still live there and have done for all but fourteen years of my life. I have had great friends, family and people around me. People whom it has been a privilege to know.

Although not quite so strong now, Helensburgh had an absolutely ingrained community spirit and I always found, a charitable and benevolent attitude to less fortunate members of society.

However it does and always has had a dark underbelly where parochial snobbery thrives. When I was growing up it manifested itself in the church. From a very young age I was wary of those who were keen to outwardly display their devotion to God. Ridiculous as it may seem now, even as recently as thirty five years ago on a Sunday morning, there would be a bizarre fashion parade on the streets of the town.

Families would walk to church and the faither would be in best suit or kilt and clutching a bible (to his chest!). There would be a palpable smugness in their collective gait and smiling faces. As a member of the Boys Brigade, I got a close up view of the hierarchical choreography which operated within the church. The more money you had, the more respect you had – and expected.

As the prestige of dressing up as an extra from Brigadoon on a Sunday declined in the 80s, other badges of status thrived in the advent of the four wheel drive car, what restaurants you frequented and what clubs or societies you were a member of.

In recent years this has bizarrely manifested itself in what shops one buys the Persil and the toilet rolls.

The letters page of the Helensburgh Advertiser can often be funnier than reading Private Eye. The fact that the town’s biggest supermarket for many years has been the Co-op is a source of shame for many and they write in to the paper about it. Whist I notice that the store is a bit pricey, on the occasions I use it, it seems more than adequate for a small/medium sized town.

waitroseA couple of years ago, Waitrose were given permission to build a store on the outskirts of town. This has been viewed by some as akin to the return of the Messiah. This 21st century nativity happened last month on the site of a former council dump not far from Craigendoran station.


As well as permitting this out of town hub, the local cooncilors (nary a wise man amongst them) have also dedicated £6 million to completely ruin the town centre as a viable retail venue regenerate the town by way of paving works and traffic management. That however could lead me on to another lengthy article as it is over time, over budget and the place currently looks like Beirut circa 1985.

All of which brings me to this BBC article. Rarely can I have read such a simultaneously depressing and hilarious piece, which references the Helensburgh store opening. The title of my post is in there and sums the whole thing up.

I honestly hope that Mrs Rab will see that they simply charge more for everything and that the premium isn’t worth it just to be seen in the place.

Meanwhile in other parts of the town, I’m sure that outfits have already been chosen for Sunday’s family expedition there.


3 Responses

  1. The most erudite I’ve read on both subjects. Anything else I’ve read attempting to discuss the Wait.Rose effect on Helensburgh got stuck up itself. The most important question remains: can you get a hauf v and chips at lunch time if you’re at Hermy?

  2. And here was me thinking that the ultimate status symbol of the 21st. century was having your own blog page complete with daily disciples. The new pulpit is the internet! Just whit wid John Knox think of it all?

  3. Bang on, Rab. Great article.

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