Saturday, 19 January 2013
Money, Money, Money
The middle classes have to sneer at anybody making money from property, and bewail shopping “madness”, “frenzy” etc.
Middle-class Samantha Upward is appalled by the way everybody seems to have so much money these days, and the luxury industry that has sprung up. People talk about their third or fourth houses; they send their children on competitive gap years; they have three holidays a year; their children are learning Arabic or Japanese. None of Sam's relatives can exploit this new moneyed class by becoming a lady's maid, butler or housekeeper.
In the olden days, the Antiques Roadshow would only tell people the insurance value of their object (You’d need to insure it for…). They never mentioned auction rooms or the possibility that someone might sell their antique. (They still say “But you’ll never sell it, will you!”)
Middle-class people don’t just buy things, they “finally give in and” buy them “in the end”. (Sometimes they “succumb”.) We gave in and bought a: tanning bed, gas-powered mower, laptop, fake Xmas tree, upvc shed, external hard drive, brand new car, minivan, book on tape, hydraulic press, leather suite, hamster, Twitter account, black Labrador for the kids, squirrel baffle (for the bird feeder), cell phone for our oldest daughter, cat, cab home, mini trampoline, new car (Twingo), Wii, chocolate egg filled with chocolates, small greenhouse, thumb guard, double skillet, new puppy, Gamecube, iPad, Blackberry Curve, Moleskine notebook, printer, mummy bus, some Whittard’s instant iced tea. (Thankyou, Google.)
It’s every middle-class person’s dream to write a novel. But it seems such a hopeless business plan – so much work for such a tiny return. But the novel is a passport to the lecture circuit, the creative writing class, the column in a broadsheet, the book reviews, the status, the gigs at Hay on Wye.
If you cost your labour, is it worth it? Yes - not in money, but for the cachet, status, profile, visibility and a more interesting life with superior friends. (And you can always write money-spinning genre novels using a pseudonym.)
Lower middle-class Jen Teale would cost it out before she started, and make sure she wrote something that people wanted to read (teen vampire novels, not literature).
Weybridges think it’s terribly important to teach your children the value of money.
Thanks to credit cards, our children don’t know the value of money! We must introduce our children to money as soon as possible. This is difficult because we use plastic instead of coins and notes these days. So we must give our children coins and tell them the values and play “shop”. (The Times 2009, paraphrase)
Upwards, on the other hand, while investing money, emotion and hopes in their children, fail to explain this to them. (It would mean talking about money, which they don’t do. It would also mean calling a spade a spade.) The children, being children, don’t wonder where the money’s coming from, or what their parents will expect in return (a place at university, a suitable boy or girlfriend, a respectable job). Upward parents need a story they can tell their friends, and Upward children don’t have much choice.