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Thursday, October 25, 2012

What defines class?

You often hear people say: "Hey, that's a classy lady!". So I just wonder how you define 'class'.

Some would say that you have class when you belong to a noble family. Perhaps, but I've often seen and heard things from nobles that don't have any resemblance with class. Their behavior can be quite beastly, at times.

Other would suggest you need lots of money to have class. I do agree most of the nouveau rich think they belong to the upper classes, but alas for them they don't.  It's not because you have millions of billions of dollars or euros you know how to exercise class.

No, in my opinion, class is all about behavior. Knowing how to behave in certain circumstances without being prompted. Knowing what to say when you are introduced, for instance, to the Queen of England. Never drawing untoward attention.

So according to this I suppose you have to define my sister and I as 'classy'. Sure, we have a bloodline that goes back to 800 AD (which is when the first Dampierre was knighted - of course he'll also have had a father, grandfather, etc. but there is not documentation about this). Although illegitimate, there are still some drops of blue blood in our veins. But I don't think it counts for much.

I also don't know what it is exactly, but Chris and I, and our father before us, have 'something' that makes us acceptible in higher circles. I'll give a few examples.

In yesterday's blog I spoke about our ski holidays. When we still were kids, we always went on ski holiday with our parents. One time we were spending the Christmas holiday in Dobbiaco, part of northern Italy, where German is still spoken. We were staying in a little hotel. The owner told us there were not so many guests, and that one of them was a Contessa, who was visiting her son (he was doing his army duty in the garrison there). According to the owner she never spoke to any other guest, but when we came down to dinner that first night, the Contessa was the first to greet us. She became quite friendly with my dad, and always had sweets for us kids. When Chris had her birthday, she even had a nice present for her!

And when we are spending our weekend and holidays in Heist, we often meet the mayor of the town - who is Leopold, Count Lippens. He knows us and always stops to talk to us.

Also in Heist, we used to go horseback riding and spend many hours in the bar of the club. There we were let in in the Inner Circle: a group of captains of industry, ministers, gentry. They all treated us as equals although they knew full well we were only teachers.

When we were in Kenya on safari, just the same. After our safari we decided to spend another week in Mommbasa. At our hotel, an oil convention took place while we were there, and so we came into contact with owners of big refineries, Arabian princes, etc. They treated us like royalty, although there were other women in the hotel and most likely much richer ones.

And how would you define class? Reactions are always welcome!

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