Last week, I and millions of other Britons wasted two minutes of office time by going to the BBC website and taking its class test. There were five questions, three of which concerned income and assets, one was about the occupations of your friends, and another on how you spend your leisure. Of the seven possible outcomes, I was, absurdly, judged to be the top one – a member of the elite. This will come as news to the neighbours in my street of terraced three-bedroomed houses, with converted front gardens where we park our second-hand cars.
So, I did it again, this time removing from my circle of friends the chief executive with whom I sometimes play golf, making my savings more modest than even they are, and pretending I spent my weekends at jazz clubs and gigs. And I found I had slipped a notch or two down the social scale to "middle-class technical", which, although a classification based on several lies, is probably more accurate.
It is all, of course, rather silly – class turned into a sort of parlour game, which is probably how most of us instinctively view the matter these days. Gone are the times, we think, when you could be asked by a public-school-educated colleague, as I was in 1981 when I first joined the staff of The Observer: "Oh, hello. And where do your people come from?" I was so stunned by this Bertie Woosterish question that I could only mumble that I lived in Croydon, which was not, I suspect, the locating point in the shires he was looking for.
We've outgrown class, haven't we? What with broadcasters no longer having to speak in the strangulated vowels of Edwardian country houses (as in "Ed-waar-dien", and the milk going "orf"), and the clothes you wear no longer announcing your income and background, class is a thing of the past, isn't it?
Well, in the sense of something you are born into and most likely will not escape, it has indeed died. In the sense that people are instantly judged by their background and accent, as they were generations ago, it's "gorn" for good.
It has been replaced by something more fluid and subtle. If you doubt that, take a sizeable step outside your usual social circles. If you were brought up, and still live, in modest circumstances, but like music, then splash out on tickets for Glyndebourne, and see how you react to the braying champagne picnics. If you were brought up in a large detached in the leafy suburbs, or went to public school, spend a week at Butlin's. This is not a matter of snobbery – inverted or otherwise – but of comfort zones. And that, probably, is what the thing we used to think of as class has now become.
Ciabatta or Mother's Pride? Ornamental grasses or bog-standard begonias?
Of such things are social divisions made – or are they? To find your true place in the world, ta ke this new IoS test, carefully crafted by our elite team of techno-labourers - David Randall, Matthew Bell and Simmy Richman
What class are you? Upper, middle, working, chattering, or, maybe, under? Are you a toff, chav, or pleb? A Sloane Ranger, Essex man, or Worcester woman? A yuppie or a dinky? Or do you belong to one of the novelty categories always being dreamed up by an organisation or sociologist in need of a little easy publicity? A twinky (two incomes, nanny and kids), perhaps; a woopie (well-off older person), a snag (sensitive new-age guy), or maybe even a pillock (paltry income lots of kids)? Last week, just to cause further confusion among the gullible, along came the BBC with yet more pigeon holes into which the socially anxious can place themselves.
Time for The Independent on Sunday to bring a little clarity to these matters. The only way to tell what class you are is to take this sophisticated test of social mores and habits devised by our socially varied staff.
What do you call the loo in your house?
d) We don't mention such things
You move into a new home and want to improve the garden. What is the first thing you do?
a) Ask around for the name of a good landscape designer
b) Spend £2,000 on this year's must-have ornamental grasses and shrubs
c) Plant begonias and busy lizzies in neat rows
d) Ask the prison governor for permission to grow some vegetables
At the last wedding you attended, how did the invitation come?
a) On an embossed and gilded card
b) A card decorated with photos of the bride and groom on their holidays
c) By text message
d) Someone saw it on a Facebook page and Tweeted it
And the groom wore?
a) White tie and tails
b) A hired morning suit
c) A lounge suit
d) Back-to-front baseball cap
You fancy a cup of tea. Do you:
a) Take milk and three sugars
b) Prefer PG Tips to Tesco's own brand
c) Insist on a bone-china mug
d) Ring the bell for Carson
You wish to express an opinion on a story in the news. Do you:
a) Post a comment online signed broken-Brittan
b) Phone Radio Five Live from the van
c) Write a letter to The Times
d) Collar Dave at the point-to-point
A neighbour knocks on your door at night, explains that a family member is unwell, and asks for all noise to be kept to a minimum. Do you:
a) Not understand, the nearest house to yours being a mile away
b) Apologise profusely and say that the recording of early Baroque music will now be turned down
c) Tell him he's out of order, that you're within your rights, and then turn the Sky Movies Plus film you're watching up to full volume
d) Set your bull mastiffs on him
What do you think a dumb waiter is?
a) A small table on which drinks and small trays are placed
b) An orally disadvantaged service worker in a restaurant
c) One who doesn't know what today's specials are
d) Stupid Herbert working in café who deserves a good smacking
(For men) Do you think Pippa Middleton is:
a) Middle class and on-the-make
b) A bit posh
c) Way out of your league
(For women) Do you think Pippa Middleton is:
a) Middle class and on-the-make
b) Not as posh as she thinks she is
c) The party planner from hell
d) The kind of best-friend I wish I had
Your family cutlery is stamped with:
a) The family crest
d) "Property of Butlin's"
You work for the BBC, take its class test, and find you are neither 'elite' nor 'technical middle class'. Do you:
a) Shrug it off
b) Make a complaint to your department's anti-discrimination officer
c) Move to ITV
d) Seek professional counselling
You need a new car. Do you:
a) Ask around at the pub
b) Log on to eBay
c) Telephone your BMW dealer
d) Let your driver keep the old one
You are mentioned in the Society pages of a newspaper. This is because:
a) You are a case study in The Guardian
b) You placed a small ad in The Guardian
c) You announced your daughter's wedding in The Daily Telegraph
d) You let Tatler cover your fund-raiser
Your favourite bread is:
d) Mother's Pride
Which of these phrases do you most frequently see on the packaging of the food you buy?
a) "Fortnum & Mason"
b) "As seen on TV!"
c) "2 for 1!"
d) "Reconstituted meat product"
Your knowledge of Italian is:
a) Based on the Domino's Pizza menu
b) Comprised mainly of footballers' names
c) Much improved since you got the place in Puglia
d) Handy for Glyndebourne
Your conservatory is:
b) The biggest in the Close
c) Featured in Amdega's latest ad
d) More of a lean-to
Your dog has:
a) An Asbo
b) Its own place on the settee
c) Weak back legs, as Labradors tend to do
d) Had a good season
Your favourite high-street eaterie is:
b) Pizza Express
c) Angus Steak House
d) Ozzie's Kebabs
Do you have a regular…
a) ... organic vegetable delivery
b) ... colonic
c) ... spa-weekend break
d) ... argument with your spouse
Now check your scores...
How to score:
All (a) answers are worth 10 points; (b) 5; (c) 2; and (d) 0.
So what class are you?
35-50 points Middle class
25-34 Middle class
15-24 Middle class
5-14 Middle class
Fewer than 4 Middle class
Well, as a reader of this newspaper, what else did you expect?Reuse content