|Terry Irving addressing a radical forum at Sydney|
University, March 2014 (Photo: Sydney University Education
I don’t sound – I never sounded – working class because my parents were from the ‘respectable’ working class, an elite that was proud of its skilled work and demanded recognition for it by adopting the ‘educated Australian accent’ of the mid-twentieth century and the rules of middle-class grammar. Today my classless voice conceals a particular history of phonetic and grammatical class relations.
As to whether I have a working-class voice, my answer is that I have several. Sometimes I remember my life as the elder son of a working-class family and want to talk about belonging and solidarity and trust in a present mostly lacking in them; sometimes I recall my upward path through the status hierarchy and the anxieties it brought on; and often I want to emphasize the class meaning of my intellectual identity. At least these are the voices that I feel I can write about; were I more confident in the use of gender theory I might also reflect on class and masculinity in my relations with women and men.
|Fred Paterson (1897-1977): Rhodes Scholar, lawyer, |
Communist M.P.; victim of a devastating police
bashing in 1948.
|Cold War portrait of WWF leader 'Big Jim' Healy (1898-1961)|
at work in his office.