Are You High or Low Status?

My dream this morning got me thinking about status. The British royal family can be thought of as having a high status or standing. The likelihood of me speaking privately with William is very low. We do not move in the same circles and never have.

The other day the gardener who we had round for a quote very much enjoyed our garden, our park. In France there is a sensible system in which if you employ a gardener then you can claim a tax credit up to 50% of the money you pay him, provided you use a particular protocol. This provides him/her with national insurance contributions and works at eradicating the black economy. So, if you paid the gardener 2000 euros, your personal tax threshold would be elevated by 1000 euros. When I told him we do not pay enough tax to get any rebate he had a long “does not compute” moment. Big house and below the tax threshold was a non sequitur for him. He realised that he made more money than we do, and by quite a bit. 30 euros an hour is what he quoted us. If continuously employed he might make 40-50k euros a year. The house had inadvertently caused him to overestimate our financial well being and there is an idea that all Brits are loaded, which is not based in fact.

Our status here is generally as one of Les Anglais and there is an expectation that we do not speak / understand French. Most of the Brits here are our age or older. Many make little effort with the language. I have been treated like a generic Brit. One nurse was surprised when I argued back. I later took her a Wikipédia print out about Imperial College, and she backed off. The pharmacist knows I am a bit odd. I took her a chemical structure of cetirizine to ask for it. She knows now that I have read some Camus. Our status here is as generic retired brits, who have a big house and two old sheds for cars. The haematologist knows that I looked up gene translocations in Myeloma and understand electrophoresis. They know at one level that “teacher” is watching. Visually I look like the Bretons and so with scruffy cars we kind of fit visually into the landscape.

So apart from the medics, nurses and pharmacists we are your common or garden, perhaps mildly eccentric, retired les britanniques and hence at the lower end of the status / hierarchical spectrum.

It is likely at first pass that a being of a more elevated status than us would not treat us as equals.

Physical plane status is very much an invention of human socio-political “mind”. Though I am not sure if it is entirely mental, there are emotional and physical contributions to status. I am reasonably muscular and quite “stacked” for a 58 year old, so I do have a physical presence. I can remember a high status Oxford undergraduate woman “perving” at my biceps, not so long ago. But the physical truth is that I move in a fairly spastic manner these days. I am not endowed like a stallion which seems to be one of the metrics for status these days.

Status only really exists in a social context. It is man-made.

For many, footballers, “only fans” models and reality TV stars are high status. They do not give a toss about Nobel laureates. In universities a Nobel prize is tantamount to deity. A Buddhist monk in Tibet is of higher social status than a Buddhist monk in Croydon. Though both might be bemused.

It is a funny old thing this status thingy.

Many of the people I used to know are fairly high status individuals now. They may be lauded for this, lauded for that. They may even have extra postnominals and the holy grail of an FRS. Media may seek their opinion, their utterance. It is an interesting thought experiment for me to imagine how they might now relate to me physically up close and in person. That will not happen, methinks. They too move in different circles from me. Courage was not their forte.  They may have many measures of esteem…

When viewed from my understanding of the social-political context, I am not important. I have no power, no kudos and what little I have will diminish as I get more decrepit. Soon people will be talking loud at me in case I am mutton-Jeff {deaf}. Pardon. I have nothing shiny to offer people by association.


Are you of higher status than me?

On which plane?

Are you a more important being?

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