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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Seriously, who wants to be a billionaire?

I just caught a fragment of a discussion on Today about wealth distribution. One of the experts was saying that people at the bottom of the heap fantasised about having the lifestyle of Wayne and Coleen Rooney. Really? Every time I look at a pictorial showing the inside of "the lovely home" of this or that wealthy celebrity a shudder passes through me. There's something about the single coffee mug placed carefully alongside the fresh flowers on the expensive kitchen table which suggests that such people have no aptitude for the simple cosiness of the domestic life most of us lead.

Giles Coren touches on the same subject in today's Times in which he wonders why any sane person would want to live in those new flats built for billionaires overlooking Hyde Park:

These people do not get to go to the shops, to ride the top deck of a bus in the rain, they don’t get to fork over the compost in their tiny urban garden, chance delightedly upon a fiver in the back pocket of their painting jeans or find an old pine table discarded on a skip that will burn in the grate for weeks. They do not get to laugh loudly in the face of possible death while unblocking the gutter on their roof, as Matthew Parris did here on Thursday. They do not get to do anything. Except sit on an expensive chair in a bookless apartment, staring out at a park they are frightened to venture into alone.

I watched Tantrums and Tiaras recently. This is the film about the home life of Elton John. The home life of Elton John appears to be all chrome, glass, expensive table settings and nervous domestics, hovering in the background laughing at one's jokes. I saw enough to know that the only person who would want that kind of home is the kind of person whose wealth and profession cuts them off from the very idea of home. It's as if they've had to get the sheet music to the tune that the rest of us can just whistle. Everybody would like to have more money, of course. If we've got any sense we don't want that money to transform our lives - we just want enough to remove the difficulties from the one we've already got.