BBC Radio 4, 8-22 January 2012
This three-part series of short stories by Muriel Spark began with "The
Snobs," a cautionary tale of a married couple, the Ringer-Smiths, who pretended to be well-born yet remained vulgarly middle-class.
They were the kind of people who, when invited to tea at someone's house, would never go away; rather they found any and every
excuse to stay for dinner, sleep the night, and spend even longer time there. Blissfully unaware of their hosts' antipathy
towards them, they wanted to do everything, even if they looked incongruous while doing so - for example, taking soup with
the local paupers at a soup-kitchen run by the hosts.
Eventually the worm turns: the hosts lock the Ringer-Smiths out, put their bags outside
the chateau compound, and refuse to speak to them. The Ringer-Smiths respond by writing a letter, in which they complain of
poor treatment by "the staff" (even though it is actually the hosts themselves who have meted that treatment out), and calling
them "snobs." Like the true snob, the Ringer-Smiths remain so blind to their own faults that they have no idea what a snob
This first-person narrative was read by Patricia Hodge with an occasional twinkle
in her voice, making us well aware that the story was not to be taken entirely seriously. It was a Heavy Entertainment production.