“Money, man, it is a bitch
The poor they spoil it for the rich” – Nick Cave (Easy Money, Abattoir Blues 2004)
One of the more galling aspects of obtaining your first billion in good ole Blighty is that this once exclusive coterie is now open to any charlatan with wide pockets, a passably creative accountant and a ruthlessly efficient PR team. Back in the day it was the hallmark of achievement, but one that did not need advertising to the hoi polloi or indeed one’s peers. For, like a glass of Croft Original served before dinner, one instinctively knew you were right and that was enough. The old school understood this implicitly, which is why almost no-one had a clue what you were up to unless you got caught. And if you did, the correct procedure was to fall on your sword. Discrete, suave and brutal: Just how one’s affairs were conducted if you had proper moolah.
But now it’s a very different story. No longer is it enough to merely earn the stuff, oh no. The deal is that you must brag about it through every portal available, presumably to titillate the less fortunate who will get their kicks vicariously and keep out of your way. For example: A quick scan of this weeks Sunday Times top stories revealed the following:
- “Rich double their wealth in five years”
- “How the rich are getting richer”
- “Billionaire’s daughter learns to love life”
- “How to get rich, by those who’ve done it”
- “Yours for £11.5m: An entire Devon village”
…and so on. However, the Magazine section also offered up an online quiz for the aspirational proletariat called simply Millionaire Maker, dangling the possibility of untold affluence at the click of a mouse. Which is all very well, but the very thought of some chinless Herbert getting the goods from what amounts to nothing more than a lottery will have your bona fide tycoon frothing at the gills before the first Krug is dusted. For, acceptable though it may be for the Great Unwashed to use their little plastic toys to access this kind of information, it is another thing entirely for them to walk down the gilded corridor.
So, what to do? It’s essential that we continue to promote the illusion that we can all have a slice of the pie or the foundations of capitalism will crumble overnight, leaving in its wake a feudal bunfight for anything that isn’t screwed down. But equally, the very same prize must set apart the Harrods Food Hall aficionado from your Greggs regular or there is little point in having it in the first place. For what it’s worth, I recommend something altogether more radical: Wedge wrestling. Nude. In oil. It’s pretty straightforward – Plebs to the left, Toffs to the right and I get to cast the definitive vote. The rippling torsos of privilege vs the downtrodden carcasses of poverty, smothered top to toe in something from the fridge.
“Mesdames et messieurs, faites vos jeux s’il vous plait…”