St. Martins College
This English pop/alternative rock song “Common People” by Pulp (named after the movie starring Michael Caine) definitely has that '90s feel to it, with its quick, catchy beat and electric sound. But what I find fascinating about the 1995 release is the story it tells. It’s your ever-popular theme of poor boy meets a girl of privilege who thinks being destitute is the posh thing to be. We’ve all heard that story before and know there’s this romanticized view from both sides of the track about the other, and both are usually wrong.
The story starts out explaining that a rich girl from Greece comes to England to study sculpting at St. Martin’s College. This college opened in 1964 and was founded by the Church of England as a college of Education to train teachers. It was named after St. Martin of Tours, a Roman soldier who tore his cloak in two to clothe a beggar, and then later had a vision of Christ wearing that robe. Though it was named for a Roman, I’m pretty sure their sculpting classes were heavily influenced by the Greeks. Their culture is famous for their marble, bronze, wood, limestone, plaster, gold, and ivory statues. If that wasn’t enough of a clue to the opulence and popularity of this little island nation, let’s not forget some other well-known Grecian attributes such as:
Literature greats Plato, Aristotle, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, Herodotus and Thucydides, least of all Homer, author of the Iliad
and the Odyssey
Philosophers Plato, Aristotle and the ever-intelligent Socrates.
The first Olympic Games in 776 B.C.
The first democratic system of government in 508 B.C.
Birthplace of Alexander III, better known as Alexander the Great
Home of Mount Olympus and the Greek gods.
Scrumptious cuisine like Moussaka, Spanakopita, Souvlaki, gyro, feta, olives and Greek salad.
Colorful fountains outside St. Martins College
There are lots of interesting facts about Greece. One more particularly pertinent to our story is that Greece, the seventh most visited country in the European Union and officially called the Hellenic Republic, is the crossroads for Europe, Asia, Middle East and Africa, and considered the cradle of Western civilization. No wonder its citizens thrive on a high standard of living, with a high human development index, as it is a developed country with an advanced high-income economy. This makes Pulp lead man Jarvis Coker’s story of a privileged girl from Greece more plausible.
Our leading lady is never given a name, but we can tell a lot about her based on the reaction from our leading man. This rich girl shows up, finds a poor boy, and within 30 seconds she tells him that she wants to live like "common people," do whatever "common people" do, and sleep with "common people," like our fellow. Common people don’t often refer to themselves as common; they’re just people. He, of course, is up for the challenge, and his first experiment is to take the rich darling to a supermarket and ask her to pretend like she doesn’t have any money. She laughs at him in her pride, because it’s such an absurd idea to pretend not to have financial resources. So, he of course, goes into his own bit of prejudice and talks about the hardships that as a poor boy he has to undertake. He informs her she’d never understand what he has to endure or go through because at the first sign of trouble ~ in this case, a cockroach crawls up the wall ~ our pauper-pretending princess would only need to call her father to get her out of dire straits.
Whether or not its fictional couple stays together, the song scored a spot in the UK Top Ten charts in 1995, and the English band itself, after a 9-year hiatus, is back together as of 2013. Which is quite an uncommon feat for an erstwhile group of, um, common people.
~ T.L. Gray
T.L. Gray is a best-selling published author, literary agent, editor, blogger, and contributing writer to various print and online magazines. When this active outdoor enthusiast isn’t hiking down some wild, adventurous, backwoods trail, or cooking gourmet food, she is listening to an eclectic assortment of music or playing her acoustic guitar. For more information visit her Facebook Page at AuthorTLGray
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