Something to Say with Keith Newbery: Lowbrow, middlebrow or highbrow?

THE compulsion we have in this country for putting people into particular categories - no matter how meaningless or ill-defined - has intensified.

Apparently, we can now be divided into lowbrow, middlebrow or highbrow groups, depending upon our tastes in everything from food to literature.

It is fatuous waffle, of course, and when I began to study the results my brows were darting from low to middle to high and back again like Roger Moore with conjunctivitis.

I’m at a loss to understand how individuals can be pigeon-holed in quite such an arbitrary and cavalier fashion.

Why should it automatically be presumed, for example, that someone who enjoys an occasional box of fried chicken (lowbrow) is incapable of appreciating Mozart (highbrow)?

Whether people are prepared to admit to this apparent dichotomy is another thing altogether - but such individuals certainly exist.

I’m not particularly keen on Wolfgang or the Colonel’s finest, but my predilections repeatedly crash through accepted barriers of taste and class.

I will stop whatever I’m doing to listen to the Moral Maze on Radio Four - yet I have rarely missed an episode of Coronation Street since it began more than 50 years ago.

Why should the two be mutually exclusive?

One makes me think; the other makes me laugh. Occasionally, both have me indulging in a burst of sub-conscious applause for the deftness of the expression used or the adroitness of the point made.

I also believe people’s tastes mature over the years. A mate of mine was a club DJ in the Sixties and there was nothing he didn’t know about Motown or the Mersey beat. He regarded classical music as the exclusive preserve of toffs.

Now, more than 40 years later, his knowledge of (and appreciation for) everything from Sam Cooke to The Searchers remains unimpaired.

But these days he is barely detectable at home behind a 500-strong barricade of classical CDs which surrounds his speakers and easy chair.

Incidentally, I’ve just finished reading The End of the Party by Andrew Rawnsley (a magnificent chronicle of the rise and fall of New Labour) and am now about to begin On Green Dolphin Street by Sebastian Faulks, while tucking into a Ginster’s pasty. That’s if my brows will stop twitching up and down for long enough.

ED MILIBAND has been pictured setting off on holiday with a hernia-inducing pile of books.

Some had their spines deliberately positioned so the titles were visible.

All were worthy tomes, of course, and intended to show us what a high-minded fellow the Labour leader is and how seriously he takes his role in life - even on holiday.

One - called ‘Leadership on the Line’ - presumably contains advice on how best to deal with his current predicament.

Another - entitled ‘Prosperity Without Growth’ - presumably contains advice on how best to run the country should he ever make it to Number Ten.

But the PR boys missed an opportunity. A book of fairytales by the Brothers Grimm would have been a nice touch.