Despite their differences, the Gronk and Nobody families were both Outsiders. But the Nobodys did not care about status, although they saw education as important and sometimes did quite well for themselves. The Gronks, however, wanted to be higher up the social scale. Many an attempt had been made over the years to climb that slippery ladder. The rank of Poshey was the ultimate goal, but it had so far eluded them. Sooner or later, the Gronk family were convinced they would be rubbing shoulders with the Snook elite.
People were born into these groups and social mobility was intensely frowned upon. Posheys wanted the fundamental building blocks of the Snook society to remain static. Children had to know their place. Fledging Posheys had a huge head start in life and raised their noses at the other kids. Trainee Gossips chatted incessantly and twisted facts. The young Outsiders knew they did not belong and stigma hung over them like a dark cloud.
There was a solitary man, undesirable to almost everyone in the Snook. A grubby tramp had grey hair, a tangled beard, tattered coat and ripped trousers. The peeling soles of his shoes were only kept on with elastic bands. This man could often be found sitting on a blanket outside Chit-Chats, a coffee shop on the High Street. He rarely spoke, but always had a glint in his eye. One of his few possessions was a battered tin mug, which he used to collect spare change. It was accompanied by a piece of cardboard, usually showing a scribbled ‘Please.’
In the main, people strutted past the tramp with their noses thrust in the air. Gossips called him the village idiot. But he was just an old man down on his luck. He watched the local people going about their business. The vagrant lived hand-to-mouth and only survived due to the kindness of a few Outsiders.
Residents in the Snook were courteous to their own kind, but unhelpful to those beneath them. Everyone was expected to stay in their place. On evenings and weekends, the upper High Street was gridlocked with parked cars as the entitled socialised in the abundance of expensive restaurants. They found it irksome if any lower sorts had a decent education or could afford to live in a nice house. Outsiders tried to keep themselves to themselves to avoid attracting unwanted attention.
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