Idk about this. I come from, originally, the poverty line, then increasing fortunes all the way up to the working class and then middle class before I left home and chose to become poor again for a while. We did okay. Just fine in fact. I had to pay my own way through school, but it never even occurred to me things would be otherwise until I got there. My dad never spent a day not covered in machine grease and bruises from wrench slips, but eventually he got a union job and the pay increased well over time. My relatives are poor Irish and poor Quebecois, some who have had arrest warrants out for them, and some who drank themselves to death. Would I call myself diverse? Maybe among White folk in hair-colour, handedness, and blood type, but that’s it. So, no. Until I encountered the arts scene, I always assumed that more people grew up like me than didn’t. But this young woman says that given how the publishing system works in the UK, she’s considered diverse because she went to a state school and doesn’t have a trust fund. I…. Well… You see…. It’s just that given what’s going on in the world right I wouldn’t… Uh…. So… Thoughts?
“It’s insane,” she says, of this perception. “Ultimately, I’m a white woman who grew up relatively comfortably and is university-educated, and yet, because I went to state school and I’m from the north-east and I have a regional accent and a working-class background, I’m diverse.” She had a similar experience when she finished school and went to Chelsea College of Arts: “I went from being in Newcastle, and being fairly privileged compared to lots of people, to going down to London and being like – ah no, I’m actually rough as arsehole. None of these people have ever set foot in a working men’s club.”
In Clark’s eyes, the north-south divide has become more of a metropolitan-rural one, partly because every city in the UK now has its own big university. But the lack of funding and opportunities in the north, and particularly the north-east, is still a problem. “There are these amazing, scrappy DIY scenes all over the UK, but national and international success is preserved for a privileged handful of people who have connections.”