Sunday 21 April 2013

On getting onto the front of the Sunday Times review section

Fifties-style middle-class family on a walkI don't know what I think about paywalls for online news papers, but - despite what I might have said in the past about making the universe free-to-view - paywalls can be pretty damn irritating.  Like today.

Today, I want to link to the lengthy extract from my new book about the death of the middle classes on the front of the Review section of the Sunday Times but, although I can link to it, I know that people will have to pay a subscription or come up with some kind of password to read it.

The same goes for yesterday's book review in The Times, a thoughtful piece by Anne Ashworth.  It's like buses: you wait all your life for this kind of coverage for a book you've written and then, suddenly, two of them come along and you can't link to them to spread the word.

Still I can't really complain.  The Sunday Times has also borrowed the last section from the end of the book to make it sound a bit more upbeat, which is fine by me.  The book itself, Broke: Who Killed the Middle Classes?, is published on Thursday.  Not everyone will agree with me - especially if they don't actually read it - but I hope it will get some of these issues talked about.  This is the key paragraph from the extract they used:

"Given that extraordinary shift in fortunes – that cascade of money through property and financial services known as Big Bang – why is it that the middle classes feel so threatened? Why have they been sidelined by a new and aggressive international class of mega-rich? Why have their homes and way of life and retirements become virtually unaffordable, with home ownership falling steadily, and now lower than in Romania and Bulgaria? Why are they in such a panic about their children’s education? Why has their professional judgement been shunned? And why have they allowed their hard-working duty to career, family and salary to be so futile – given that, however successful they become, there is a banker half their age whose bonus makes them look ridiculous? In short, why are we wondering again whether the distinctive lifestyles of the English middle classes can survive?"

It is, in fact, a kind of non-fiction whodunnit, taking us back through the Thatcher, Major, Blair and Brown years - a sort of contemporary history as we all lived it - to find out what went wrong.  I hope it will spark a debate.  Probably what I need is for someone to review it with a sledgehammer and cause a stir.

Who should I ask?  Nigel Lawson?  Peter Mandelson?  Fred Goodwin?  Bob Diamond?


Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great book, David. Books like that can easily draw people in because they can identify with them (ie, they see themselves as the under-pressure middle class person, or perhaps as a vilified banker). And I'm sure the Sunday Times angle is partly to play on social angst ("Are you a failing middle class-er..?"). But I hope at least part of this debate ponders what we want society to be like, thinking in the abstract, away from our own experiences and interests.

David Boyle said...

I v much agree. Thanks for comment. I hope I have done that - I've tried to look at the role the middle classes can play in political and economic stability - but also the importance for everyone to have some space in their lives, whether they are middle class or not.

Judy Heminsley said...

I share your frustration at newspaper paywalls preventing linking to good quality articles.
I like to share information from across the spectrum, but now The Times, Telegraph and FT are all out of the equation.
And the Inde website sends my laptop into spasms every time I go there.
So I'm looking forward to a good old-fashioned browse of your book next time I'm in a bookshop, David.

David Boyle said...

Thank you, Judy. Let's do it the old-fashioned way!