I am surrounded by affluent rage. Although I have moved from the kitchen with the fourposter bed in Hampstead, because I could no longer live in a part of London full of bankers pretending they live in a rural village, I have failed to escape it.
I moved away from the farm re-enactment people, the cold-eyed workaholics and the actresses with small dogs. But I made a terrible error, because I am now living opposite a private school and, twice a day, I have to listen to affluent screaming and the affluent squeaking of stiletto boots. The posh mums are advancing.
I do not mind the children. I like children because they do funny walks and without wishing to sound like the owner of the Gingerbread House in Hansel And Gretel, children smell nice.
But the mums terrify me, mostly because of their chosen mode of transport, which is designed to intimidate. (Or to pop to Kabul, which is nowhere near NW3.) It is, of course, the 4x4, north London’s version of an automatic weapon/tank. They all have 4x4s and, en masse, the collected mothers resemble a very glossy convention of Chechnyan warlords.
One is parked outside as I write, in what looks like a truck. She could conceivably be transporting infantry or embarking on the invasion of a small country, before retreating home to polish the sideboard. Why? Are these rich mothers thwarted generals or serial killers? Why the scary cars?
My theory is they need the cars, because they do not work. This makes them feel powerless and the fact that their superhero investment banker husbands may not be faithful only adds to the groaning sense of terror. So they get a car that could not only drive across the Himalayas (not that there is a Starbucks there), but could conceivably kill the husband, if backed into at appropriate speed. Do not lecture me, full-time mothers. I have no children to neglect but when I do, I will neglect them and they will love it, because I will not be bashing into Minis in a giant car, but setting an example. The very happy full-time mother is a myth invented by The Daily Mail. So they buy the biggest car they can physically climb into without having to use a mounting block. Instant power. Big car. Big rage.
“En masse, the collected mothers resemble a very glossy convention of Chechnyan warlords”
The rage of the affluent, which I think is merging into a psychosis, is everywhere and I do not understand it. Aren’t wealthy people supposed to behave like characters in adverts, clinking glasses of Bailey’s and having sex on £10 notes while cackling? Aren’t they supposed to smile like only a person with £10million in a Swiss bank account can smile? No. They sit in 4x4s, beeping and beeping. Where is the joy in all this loot?
My theory is this. Humans are just beasts – not in the Enid Blyton sense, but in the Charles Darwin sense. Survival of the fittest means the acquisition mania never stops – therefore, wealth does not make you happy. Actually, it makes you more unhappy than ever, because you have achieved wealth and it’s not as good as you’d hoped. You are still you, he is still him and you can’t find your car keys, because your car is bigger than Finsbury Park.
I developed this theory hanging around Bond Street and my local and very posh supermarket, which is haunted by the 4x4 women and me, because I cannot be bothered to walk to Sainsbury’s. You also see their husbands there, but never before 7pm, when they arrive in a flock. If the women just glare at crackers and milk, the men behave as if shopping is a war, and the loser dies at the checkout. They are very well-dressed and they smash their trolleys in Cheese with beady eyes, and they give you death stares in Meat, and grab lumps of sausage, as if civilization was only an idea.
What did I do to you, angry sausage men? This is not an investment bank, where dog eats dog and the dog still living gets to buy a yacht, and hate someone with a slightly bigger yacht. This is a supermarket. But I must go now, because the Chechnyan warlord mother outside my house is now leaning on the horn. I must add to the affluent rage.
Stylist’s regular columnist Lucy Mangan is on maternity leave
Main picture credit: Rex Features
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