Keeping Up Appearances; from Hyacinth Bucket to Eleanor Rigby

Keeping Up Appearances was a British sitcom that ran on BBC television from 1990 – 1995. It featured a woman called Hyacinth Bucket, which she insisted was pronounced Bouquet. The humour lay in watching her attempts at social climbing. She lived to impress her unfortunate neighbours, who tried to avoid her! 
Coincidentally, at that time, I was in contact with relatives, who erroneously insisted on a French pronunciation of their surname, and were oblivious to their ridiculous behaviour.
 
While the programme was enjoyed for its comedic effect, some people in real life struggle to keep up appearances and it is no laughing matter. People who have social status, such as by being a home owner, but lack actual income, are said to be in genteel poverty. This leads to reduced  spending and failing to replace things that are broken. By keeping up appearances, others are not aware of the true state of affairs.
 
 
The March family in the novel Little Women, by Louisa M Alcott, are an example of genteel poverty. They gave up their Christmas dinner to take to a family, who were in absolute poverty. Today, people who have very little themselves, may leave an item to be collected for the food bank, on their way out of the supermarket.
 
Another sort of keeping up appearances, is the disguising of emotions. This may extend to hiding actual physical or mental abuse. Victims of controlling behaviour may show no sign to the outside world, suffering at home in silence. 
 
In “Eleanor Rigby”, the song by Paul McCartney, the woman disguises her loneliness by appearing cheerful, wearing a face that she keeps in a jar by the door, as the song says. She is an example of all the lonely people,  who keep up appearances.
 
 Footnote : As a tribute to the Beatles, Tommy Steele commissioned a statue of Eleanor Rigby, (a fictitious person, although the name is found in a Liverpool graveyard) It is placed not far from the site of the club, the Cavern, where the Beatles first performed.
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