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”.

Another surely made up character is interior architect Philippa Thorp, who according to a piece by Katrina Burroughs on walk-in closets, asserts that “bespoke dressing rooms have become indispensable to today’s high-fliers”. But does this mean that if a band of communist revolutionaries planned to overthrow capitalism, all they’d have to do is destroy bespoke dressing rooms? Without them, the high-fliers would presumably just dissolve into crumbs, as though slain by Buffy. Well, now I know where to start if I ever feel oppressed enough by reading How To Spend It to take to the closets with a grudge and a flaming bottle filled with gasoline.

Then, something strange happened. I was profoundly disappointed to find myself genuinely interested in the next two pieces – one about the Icon Sheene motor cycle (£107,000), and the next about limited edition signature wristwatches and how they increase in value. Argh, they’re sucking me in! I wanna motor bike named after Barry Sheene! I wanna watch with a replicated Diego Maradona autograph! See, all it takes is some half-decent journalism without any pretentious twattery and they’re bringing out the latent materialist in the massed stay-at-home dad readership.

Shoes: an absolute must for the chic working woman
Then came an article about a philanthropist and a sculptor bringing public art to Hyde Park while raising funds for a children’s educational centre. I could find fault in all that, if I was going to be an ideological purist bore, but I can’t be arsed. I’m getting too old. Well done, rich chappies – doubly good cause. By the time I reached a piece proclaiming “menswear-influenced lace-ups are becoming the footwear of choice for the chic working woman”, I’d lost the will to resist.

Hey, I’m walking the feminist walk here, bringing up the kids for my chic working woman, and I say it’s her right to wear what the hell she likes on her feet, even a £435 pair of Rupert Sanderson patent Joyce brogues, or some 300-quid Fratelli Rosetti perforated suede Derbys. Which sounds more like a line from an elegiac tribute to an Italian football hooligan’s assault on a grim east Midlands town than a shoe, but what do I know? I’m just the drooling reader, dreaming of decadent excess and the day when, like founder and chief executive of Yoox Group, Federico Marchetti, I’m interviewed by Vanessa Friedman, and I can tell her about a floating fish restaurant called Jumet that “is so secret it doesn’t have a landline, just a mobile-phone number that you need to know”.

Of course a floating restaurant doesn’t have a fucking landline, you cock. Tsk, he may manage 23 luxury-brand online stores valued at €500 million, and he may have Jumet’s mobile number, but you can’t just go out and buy brains, eh?


AMD said...

I dread reaching the point of celebrity where I might be asked about the best gidft I have received recently. I don't think my answer – "A Garmin NavSat thingy, dunno the model, that will allow me to drive in other cities where I'm to scared of losing my way in case I land up in sime unfriendly neighourhood or, worse, unnecessary traffic jam" — would establish me as a particularly lofty high-flier.

Some great laugh-out-loud moments in your piece. Poor Azhel.

Gorilla Bananas said...

I'm not impressed by any of them, although I give them credit for not hording their money like misers. The rich people I like are the ones who buy flunkies and toadies with their money, like the Sultan of Brunei. How much would you charge to be a flunky who laughs at some rich guy's jokes? Every man has his price.

No Good Boyo said...

Arzhel, eh? The Bretons must be delighted to have their names added to the international wankers' register. Who next, the Basques?

A friend of mine at Oxford once saw poet Craig Raine's children Nina and Moses (yes, Moses) prancing around dressed as Greek zephyrs and declaiming limp verse. "They'd better be going to a Quaker school," was her rueful Scouse remark.

On balance, I'd have rather taken the toilet duckings than endure vegetarian pacifism and near Dutch-levels of smugness tolerance.

Mark Sanderson said...

I'm not familiar with this publication. Talking of unusual names, a work colleague of mine is keen to call his as yet unborn child, Zico. He's still got two months to convince his wife.

tom.ato said...

I heard of a couple recently who called their newborn daughter IKEA. They liked the name. Well, I guess there are worse. but poor kid. All those jokes about flat-packs!