By Kathryn Tulip
After it had happened a couple of times, I began to wonder why I got so upset when a colleague borrowed my books and returned them some time later dog-eared and with coffee rings on the cover. It took me a while longer to realise that I was getting upset about a class difference between us. My desire was to keep my books clean and tidy, my colleague seemed to me not to care about that. This led to some low-level conflict and reluctance on my part to share my books. We had very few books at home when I was growing up and lost or damaged things couldn’t easily be replaced, so I learned to be very careful with my possessions. My colleague’s experiences growing up and relationship with possessions seemed to be different, perhaps because lost or damaged items could more easily be replaced than was possible in my home. This was a conflict created out of two different experiences of scarcity. When we had that long overdue conversation, it was clear that this was just one small example of how class difference was playing out in our relationship. It was like a breath of fresh air to look at these niggles through the lens of class, and to start to bring an awareness of how class privilege plays out in our relationship.