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Published in Instep, The News on Feb 15 2010

An old friend of mine once hilariously remarked about the pedigree of a certain blond fashion designer, the kind you usually see in red nails and cheetah prints or those who freakishly resemble birds of prey. She took offense, let there be no doubt about that, but it did invoke this question over and over again: do human beings, women especially, have pedigree or is it a word used exclusively for canines? I think they do, especially the blond types that think their status is gauged by the size of diamonds they wear. They may have pedigree, just very little class.

You may have the money to plaster foreign labels on every item of clothing you wear, from your fake eyelashes to your underwear but class will only come to those born with it. And it doesn’t necessarily equate with your bank balance. It equates with your pedigree. Aha…that word again.

I was sitting in the peaceful oasis of high-end salon last week, getting my hair done, while one of our blond and beautiful society friends walked in…along with two maids and one child. Yes, two maids for a little three-year old girl who shouldn’t have been in the salon in the first place. Please note: if the place you’re headed charges you more than a gourmet meal for blow drying your hair, plays jazz and serves coffee with higher froth than Espresso, believe me this is not the place to bring your maid or child. Needless to say, my moment of peace was shattered by shrieks…shrieks from the woman who couldn’t help shouting orders and instructions to the two ladies accompanying her and from the child who was uncontrollably hysterical.

Lesson number one: let your children not be social evils or weapons of mass destruction. Remember that other less privileged women (like me) usually leave home to escape from this very axis of evil.

Over to women who cannot leave their homes without bringing the maids along. I just think it’s terribly inhuman to have a maid babysit your spoilt little brat as you get your nails polished for more than their monthly wages. It’s equally tasteless to have them feed your child in a salon or worse still, wait in a restaurant while you’re stuffing yourself away with sushi at the next table. It’s insensitive and it reflects very poor breeding. If you must ferry your maids around, then at least give them the respect to sit and eat with you. Again, there are those who will think it socially grand to have a string of servants to pander them always while those with class will be discreet.

Lesson number two: let your maids not be your shadows unless they are ‘companions’ or nannies and do not reflect willful wanting of your lifestyle in their eyes.

So there are women with pedigree and class and then there are the social scavengers (no names and apologies to all) who try very hard but cannot overcome the missing link that comes in the chain of chromosomes that make up the genes. Here’s a quick 101 on telling the true apart from the trashy:

  1. The thoroughbreds will remember the names of their fathers, grandfathers and ancestors while the imposters will prefer to drop names of the presidents they have partied with and the ambassadors they have eaten with. Name dropping at its best and social climbing at its worst.
  2. The blue blooded will have no qualms digging out their granny’s old clothes and family heirlooms for weddings while the nouveau riche will always run after fashionable new labels and will be willing to pay a king’s ransom on ordering the latest of diamond sets from some fancy new jeweller.
  3. Those with class will invest in books, reading and building libraries while those who have crashed the social scene will think of the weekly social pages as the ultimate bible. Having their pictures featured in Sunday magazines will be their ultimate dream and their biggest investment will be in a blow dry that ensures they never look bad for them.

So class, my friends, cannot come to all and certainly has absolutely nothing to do with money or social status. If anything it is a state of mind that evolves with a certain kind of breeding, a breeding that will never allow you to swear like a fisherman’s wife even in the privacy of your home. It’s that very same breeding that will always ensure you are polite to the less fortunate and that you certainly will have no desire to have dinner with the president. And if you have that class, then rest assure you will have pedigree to be proud of. That blond designer would have appreciated the allusion if she had any.

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