SPORTS FOR TOFFS

Polo: despite protestations of its promoters, remains a nob's lot compounded by arcane rules, society cachet and sheer expense. Renowned as chap-hunting ground for gold-digging aristo-fillies.

Hunting: knowing your place is essential in this most hierarchical of pursuits: squirearchy in front, grizzled "terrier-men' behind. Urban liberal handwringers still unwelcome.

Heli-skiing: is the best way for the posh to keep away from the dayglo hordes. A chopper takes one to untouched pastures where one can ski in snowy silence.

Long distance rally driving: suits the toff spirit of character building. Provides jolly gap-year japes, and new satellite technology reduces the chances of the nice-but-dim getting lost in the desert.

Rowing: all floppy hair and triceps, male rowing is stuck in a Merchant Ivory-styled mirage of pre-war upper crust bonding.

SPORTS FOR TOUGHS

Football: despite contemporary interest from middle-class nostalgists, football remains working-class property. Provides a map for anthropologists to study prole kinship and tribalism in Eng-ger-land.

Boxing: may still be practised in some public schools, but its ghetto romance and brutality gives it a central place in aspirational working- class culture. Televsion has kitschified the once-noble art.

Coarse fishing: the second most popular sport in Britain is beloved of those common enough to handle maggots. Debate about whether it's a bloodsport divides the Labour Party, which hates hunting but allows salt- of-the earth anglers to manhandle roach and perch.

Horse and greyhound racing: are both upwardly mobile. But any gambling sport will continue to attract the working classes who, above all, like a flutter. The middle classes tend to disapprove of gambling; do-gooding reformers put an end to cock-fighting in 1849, and their heirs live on.

SPORTS IN THE MIDDLE

Mountaineering and climbing: remain populated with what Oxbridge grads snootily term "northern chemists" - grammar school self-starters in sweatshirts and cagoules. Enlightening human-against-nature thing attracts the puritanical.

Squash: is now out of favour, but remembered fondly by a generation of 1970s proto-yuppies as the power game for middle managers.

Golf: remains firmly located in the petit bourgeoisie, who feel they are a cut above the rest. Ruthless exclusivity in the golf clubs in the English shires - in Scotland and Ireland, golf is virtually classless - supports this bubble of pretence.

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