How rich are you? March 11, 2007Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
The Russian and I are preparing for the onset of fabulous wealth. I’m already surfing for bling on ebay and the Russian is working out how to upgrade the contract-killers he uses on a regular basis when someone makes some egregious, death-worthy transgression like look at his pint of red wine and coke the wrong way or call him a poof.
And we’re also preparing for the feeling of moral rectitude that will go along with our fabulous wealth being earned. I won’t have got rich with a lottery win, as happens on Australian soap operas – I don’t think Madge ever lived that down – and the Russian won’t be rich on the back of his oligarch braazer’s ill-gotten gains. No, he’ll be as rich as Croesus from his nice little university job. I’ll be as rich as Croesus from my appalling translation efforts.
Like any folk who basically never have any money, the Russian and I spend a good 90% of our time fantasy-flight-shopping on the internet. Luckily, fantasy-flying leaves a carbon footprint an especially lazy sloth might be proud of so I don’t have to have guilt-pangs at all the toxins we’d help spew if we did indeed fly to Venice this week, Dubrovnik next week and Jerusalem the week after that. (Sometimes, I’ve got to admit it, I’m glad the Russian needs a visa to step outside the front door.)
But the fantasy’s nice while it lasts. With all those pfennigs I’ve earned of late, I think to myself – presuming they’re ever paid – I’ll be able to irrigate the third world, pay for Iran to abandon its nuclear programme and find a cure for the common cold. And then, as the euphoria wears off and the cold wind of reality starts to bluster once more, I remind myself that we won’t really be very rich at all. By the time we pay bills – on time, for once – and some debts and go on a posh shoppery and double our jeans-and-jumper count from one to two, we’ll be skint again.
But the moral rectitude will still be there.
And then suddenly a flashback to being seven. Third year infants. Cross-legged in shorts on a freezing winter’s day on the wooden floor of the school hall waiting for our Belgian-witch deputy-headmistress to take assembly, which normally involved screaming about the evils of chewing-gum or enumerating our routes to hell. Thankfully, aged seven, my classmates and I were all wise enough to know that the Belgian witch was laughably wrong and we amused ourselves with our own conversations. I grew up in a standardly riff-raffish part of London. Some of my classmates lived in flats. Imagine! But we still had to pretend we were as rich as Croesus after an especially good day at the casino and thus it was that I heard Caroline K_ bigging up her family’s wealth. “My dad’s well fuckin’ rich,” she said, unconvincingly. But Linda E_ wasn’t in the mood for compromise and was, anyway, a faster runner than Caroline K_ so knew the gods were on her side. “How rich?” countered Linda, which boded well for a career in academia. “He’s got at least 100 quid in the bank,” Caroline jousted feebly back, cuing snorts of derision as far as Maida Vale, even if it was only 1978.
For me, time has stood still and I now secretly envy Caroline K_’s minted father. Yet I sometimes try to convince the Russian that we are living proof that the rat-race is a lose-lose situation. “Darling, we demonstrate – admittedly, you do need to live in Berlin and not London or anywhere else with money sloshing around for this to work – that you can be (sort of) comfortable on peanuts. We may earn 4p a year between us, but we have a very comfortable life, just without the frilly extras.” Which is sort of true. And where would the thrill be if every time you went to a cashpoint-machine you knew in advance that it would make the heart-lifting sound of whirringly counting out your money? If you think there’s a chance it’ll swallow your card or tell you to fuck off, it’s cowards’ Russian roulette thrown in.
So darlings, are any of you really going to try to tell me you’ve got more than 100 quid in the bank? I’ll know for a fact you’re fibbing, whatever mickey-mouse currency it’s in. But, just in case some of you are secretly minted, can you let me know whether I’m REALLY missing out by not making it my life’s mission to marnerishly hoard gold?