Class conscious

If you want to flush out the latent snobbery of the English middle classes (which is, admittedly, not that hard to do), then buy a modern house. Since we moved into our 1969-built property, the derogative comments have come on an almost daily basis.

Essentially, people who think a cornice is something you put ice-cream in have bemoaned the lack of period features, and people you wouldn't trust to light the candles on a birthday-cake have criticised the lack of fireplaces.

They're all bogged down in that middle-class notion that the trappings of oldness equate with comfort and social respectability and so, unfortunately, am I. For three weeks after moving in I was the bold modernist, denouncing my quintessentially bourgeois peers for the off-the-peg Edwardiana with which they furnished their century-old houses; meanwhile, however, I was discreetly inquiring as to the whereabouts of a good chimney installer. I found one eventually, and our living-room now has a fireplace and a mantle on which I can display my smart invitations (should I ever get any).

Meanwhile, I'm getting to like living in our new house, which is logically arranged and full of light. I'm also finding that our street is a snob-free zone . . . Actually, nobody in our street could be a snob even if they wanted, because we all live in a close.

I myself grew up in a close in a housing-estate outside York. I appreciated the lack of traffic; I also naively thought a close was a smart thing to live in, for, underneath the name of our street were the words "cul-de-sac", which is French, and therefore posh. (I didn't know, you see, that it means "arse of the bag".)

I now realise that a close - being a phenomenon of the past 30 years - is not posh at all. Brookside is set in a close, and you'll never read an address such as "The Old Rectory, Acacia Close". But as the generation that bought new houses in the sixties sells up, a new generation is buying their properties. As a result, modern houses, even in closes, are starting to become fashionable, so it can be only a matter of time before they'll carry social status too. (And I'm going to damn well keep writing that until it happens.)