Monday, February 14, 2011

Seduced, Beaten, Spent

More things you must have.
“Here, your favourite magazine,” Mrs. Pop said as she thrust the latest glistering incarnation of the Financial Times supplement How To Spend It towards my shaking hands. Some months I toss it disdainfully into the recycling pile. Other months, I can’t resist. The desire to feel morally superior to the overwhelmingly wealthy is just too great. That’s right, this magazine exists to help me feel good about myself.

As I started to read the February 11 edition, I became more convinced than ever that it’s entirely written for my amusement. It’s a subtle but vicious parody, inventing people that could not possibly exist in the real world, nor survive without having their heads kicked in by the indignant normal folk they happen to bump into. For it’s just not conceivable that an actual human being, “executive chef” Alain Ducasse, say, would go public with news that “the best gift I’ve given recently was a gold and diamond ring from Lorenz Bäumer for my wife, Gwenaelle, to celebrate the birth of our son Arzhel”.

Alain explains with a hint of apology that the son’s name “is from Brittany”, though that’s not going to stop Arzhel’s future school yard contemporaries from wilfully mis-pronouncing his moniker, especially if he’s anything like his old man and his penchant for bragging about having picked up stuff like “a folding tea-ceremony table from a gallery called Mitate in Tokyo”.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

After The Fire

Charred times.
Another example of what our energy supplier Pepco calls a “winter storm event” knocked out our power for four days last week. A letter in today’s Washington Post thanks Pepco for adding to its customers’ sense of certainty by ensuring that lengthy power outages have become as much of a sure thing as death and taxes. Another indirect consequence was that our house almost burnt down. Had the fine fire-fighting men of Montgomery County not been quick to jump out of bed at 3am on Saturday, it’s hard to see how the side of our house (see picture) would have avoided  more serious damage.

It seems the neighbours’ tool shed caught fire thanks to an undetected crack in their chimney, through which heat and/or flames must have escaped as they burnt wood to keep warm. The neighbours woke up when the flames reached up to their bedroom window. The Indie-Pop family had abandoned the neighbourhood in search of a warmer, electricity-driven house, so we were summoned by cell phone at 4am to come and enjoy the last stages of the drama. We suffered no internal damage, but became a local tourist attraction for 48 hours as people we’d never met before were flushed out of their houses to come and ask, “What happened?” Maybe we’ll see them again next Halloween.