The Vulgarians Are Amongst Us
A couple of days ago a chap called Matt posted a comment on the piece about headphones which struck a chord with me. He pointed out that my idea of mid-range items and his were the line between Haves and Have-Nots, which is an ever more pertinent topic of discussion here in London where the gap between rich and poor has turned into a yawning chasm.
There are obvious factors, starting with the traditional rich-get-richer approach to taxation (‘to encourage business’) that forms a main plank of any Conservative government manifesto, but this time the picture complicated by other factors, including the preference for property as a sound investment over savings, and the tacit approval of vulgarian aspirations by the media.
Despite being from a permanently broke white collar family, no member of whom had ever managed to save a penny beyond the end of the week, I bought my first flat at 24. I was able to do this because my wage as a low-rung copy-monkey in an ad agency was still enough to get me a mortgage. My flat, a tiny one-bedroom, was in the now unbelievably ritzy Belsize Park, but back then it was student bedsit land. I couldn’t do now what I did then, ie. secure a mortgage without savings, purely based on my low earnings. My flat was £23,000.
But let’s talk about the rich. It took me ages to work out what Kardashians and Ecclestones were, and then I was staggered that anyone would care about these pointless, primped appendages, as useful as tonsils, as vacuous as trapped wind, so dead on their feet you can almost see blowflies, and I can only assume that a walk through the ocean of their souls wouldn’t moisten a flip-flop – yet people (mostly very stupid teenaged girls) actually cared and worst still, wanted to emulate their ‘lifestyle’, which is another word for having lots of inherited money and not a single unselfish thought.
I was in a theatre sitting behind a large family, working out what their seats cost, when a tiny boy turned to one of the passing ushers with a raised hand and said, ‘You – a child seat, here, now.’ I’ve never heard anyone do that before. If I’d had a lighter on me I’d have set fire to him during the play.
So, this strange object. You may wish to look away now, Matt, because for proof of rich vanity, see the item above. What on earth is it, I hear you ask? Well, it’s a laptop case. Obviously not Neoprene because that’s not good enough for the stuper-rich. This one is made of gold thread, with real animal fur and a clasp made from a precious rare slice of crystal mineral. Personally I feel it’s incomplete; it needs an extinct creature, a dodo-skin handle perhaps, with diamonds embedded in its eyes.
A friend of mine worked for a while in a Chelsea store that sold things like this, where a gold-lacquered boat hull or a rhinestone encrusted rhino head gets bought by dim bankers while their bored wives listlessly troll for tassels and brocade. I once asked him what he did for a living and he said; ‘I sell cushions to c*nts.’ For this reason, probably, a Manchester fashion shop called ‘Rags To Bitches’ was able to operate in an irony-free environment. Apparently it just closed.
So please, Matt, don’t envy this ‘lifestyle’. It’s the last fetid gasp of a society on its knees. I’ve visited the top end via my old business partner, who like to dip into this world without ever becoming a part of it. It’s full of people who have nothing to say to each other or even themselves. Possibly deep down they think that owning expensive rubbish makes up for the whistling dark void inside them.
That said, the Bowers & Wilkins headphones really rock.