Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Do all rich people have that rich person glow?

We had Graham Gouldman in the office the other day to take part in The Word podcast. It was the morning after he'd played the Albert Hall with 10cc. He came on his own and parked his car round the corner. He couldn't have been more pleasant. He couldn't have made less fuss. There were absolutely no airs about him.

After he'd gone, somebody said "he'll be richer than God, I suppose". Since he co-wrote "I'm Not In Love" , "The Wall Street Shuffle", "Art For Art's Sake" , "The Things We Do For Love", "Dreadlock Holiday" for them and the likes of "Heartful Of Soul" for The Yardbirds and "Bus Stop" for The Hollies it seemed reasonable to suspect that his PRS cheques alone would make interesting reading.

But here's the thing. He didn't look rich. Didn't act rich either.

Usually when you encounter rich people they have some outward signs of the life of comparative ease that they lead. Because they have more holidays than the rest of us they've often got a kind of glow, which comes from either a sun tan or a regular facial. Teeth have generally been fixed. Hairlines have had some work. Even those who dress down tend to dress down expensively. They tend to be more toned than their contemporaries, thanks to trips to the gym in the basement or visits from the personal trainer. There's often a watch or item of jewellery which those who notice these things can't help but notice.

This is not to say that Graham Gouldman looked in need of any of these things. He just didn't look rich, that's all.


  1. I shared a lift with Steve Winwood in the Holiday Inn Express in Birmingham. He seemed beatific - resonating with peace and positive vibrations. I guess he must be worth a few quid, too, but I was greatly taking by his positive energy. Meditation?

  2. I've met Bruce Springsteen. Just the once, mind, and I'm sure he wouldn't remember me. But the thing that I really remember from the encounter is that his offstage appearance was very different from his onstage clobber. Granted he was wearing jeans, a wool sweater and a sports jacket but it was quite clear that he hadn't picked them up on a trip to the Gap with the missus. His father would probably have had to drive a bus for a month to cover the RRP of the silk scarf wrapped loosely around his neck. And the deep tan and gleaming teeth seemed considerably deeper and gleamier than they do from a distance of 40 yards in a football stadium.

    Not that there's anything wrong with that - he's earned his money, is supposedly very charitable, and is entitled to do whatever he wants with it. Besides it's not like he was wearing lots of jewelry (although there was a massive ring on his pinky that you won't see when he's singing about the downtrodden in a field near you this summer) or walking with a golden cane.

    Still it struck me that those clothes he wears on stage really are his work clothes. The way we put on an old shirt to rattle and clatter around the shed, he puts on some old (probably hand-tailored) denims to do much the same on stage. Some people say that he's one of the least image-conscious rock stars out there. I'm not so sure.

  3. There is no more image-conscious rock star on earth than Bruce Springsteen.
    P.S. Just bumped into very rich broadcasting person at the BBC. Not saying who he was but he was wearing something too fashionable for a man of his age, which is another giveaway.

  4. I used to work for Richard Branson. The first thing you noticed about him was that he never wore those jumpers that you picture him in and that he always seemed to wear whenever you saw him on the TV. And then you noticed that he was tall and to be frank a little Viking-ish.

    And then you picture the jumpers and realise they were all too big for him - to make him look smaller and more normal I guess. He was also very tanned and white teethed.

  5. Rich people also tend to smell nice - expensive colognes, often accompanied by a slight whiff of designer soap.

  6. Perhaps Western world rich people look nice and relaxed because they're not worried about being made poor by unemployment; not worried about not being able to pay their mortgage and bills; not worried about having to deal with everything they've struggled to build up, disappear down the drain, for ever and ever, with no rescue mission available.

    It might be that.

    If I were in East Africa though, I'd be worrying about the next meal.

    These people at the top of 'our' tree should bloody glow, they are the kings of beasts.