Thursday, 22 April 2010
A professor by the name of Dorling, from Sheffield University, has just released a book concerning inequality in our great nation. His book seems to have given the media some impetus to talk about the subject, which is probably the best way of ensuring that nobody actually does anything about the subject, but has nonetheless served to see a few statistics batted in my direction.
The book suggests that London is the singlemost unequal city in the entire developed world, with the richest 10% earning 273 times that which the poorest 10% are left with, a fairly sizable 27300% more. I'll let that figure speak for itself, although it probably won't, and instead cut straight to a piece of shameless self-promotion, a sort of serialisation if you will, of what I've been writing of late, which was my own, non-statistical view of what Dorling is, I believe, trying to say.
The Poverty... of all its attributes the Poverty was the greatest in the entire city. It was stunning, magnificent, spectacularly achieved and with meticulous attention to detail. I will never see a poverty so complete as that which I have witnessed in London. There were the department stores with their own horse and traps to take the rich for rides in the parkland, there were the hotel fronts with gentlemen in cravattes and top hats, holding open the doors of Italian sportscars so that their owners need not trouble with doing so. Behind the revolving doors the lobbies of those hotels held violinists, svelte, little Scandinavians in cocktail dresses, and even, in one instance, some old strumpet plucking at a harp with her jeweled fingers. The carpets were plush, so very full, velvetine... it was like walking upon a trampoline as I crossed to the concierge with my deliveries. The toilets, they were something else, with a man in a waistcoat and a towel on his arm calling people 'Sir' as they passed him by. The urinal trough, one of those that runs all the way to the floor and along the length of a wall, they had positioned a visor, at a 45-degree angle, for your shoes to fit neatly beneath and save their being splashed by any piss that sprayed back out of the porcelain. The toilet itself... oh my... but that was a stroke of genius, for the shute went straight down, and then sloped backwards rather than forwards, so that the affluent need not see the banal smear of their own shit trickling down the bowl on its way to a sewer. There must come a point at which a fellow's status makes it hard to accept that his innards contain a digestive tract much the same as any other.
There were shops... shops with locked doors, guarded from within, and with windows that glistened like the Milky Way. I knew of other shops that paid humans to work as mannequins, and I once had to deliver some negligé of the most delicate lacework that would have cost, I was told, a full seven hundred pounds of currency. Seven hundred pounds I tell you... to half-conceal a pair of titties and a cunt. There were the shops that sold yachts, that sold claret, sold port, that sold cigars...the thick smoke chugging on the wind back up St James' Street. There were shops selling cufflinks that cost my month's wages, shops selling villas and islands in the sun, that chartered jets and vintage cars. There were the restaurants too, restaurants with their tables all decked in flutes and three separate sets of cutleries, with embroidered cusions upon the seats and some of the most well-fed and positively delighted-looking folk upon the cusions... I would watch them through the windows, their silent laughter that could not reach me through the glass as they rocked back-and-forth in their voyage of glee. There were auction houses, auction houses with their record-breaking sales, all seven figures of them, announced in the windows... there were commercial galleries asking half a million for the amateur paintings of a professional musician. There were the salons that quaffed the hair of cats and dogs, and there were the universities, amongst the most prestigious on earth, where the children gathered like the prettiest and most delicate of orchards, dressed marvellously in their parents' wealth, clutching at folders of other people's words, and excitedly arranging their evenings without cares in the world. Up at St. Pancras the old station was being refurbished, and they could not help themselves in proclaiming the ten million pound penthouse sitting at the top. Down on Knightstbridge there was a new developement by Hyde Park Corner, it promised to take luxury to new heights, and I believed them.
It was sensational... stupendous, because after seeing all that, I was left to count my deliveries for the day... to get to the bottom of whether or not I had earned the fifty daily pounds that I had come to treat as some sort of watershed of satisfaction. I would count my deliveries, deduct the amount of money I had eaten, and there, right there waiting, after all that I had seen, that was poverty... the most spectacular poverty imaginable, for it could not have been more acute. That awareness of all I did not have.
Perhaps I had no license to complain, for there were certainly others below me, and I could have chosen differently, had my time fairly well-remunerated in any number of companies. But what sort of choice was that? To choose either deprivation or something I loathed... something I loathed but which promised to make it worthwhile during one transaction a month, to all be over in forty years time.
Well... there you have it... latest scribblings. Feel free to either enjoy or disparage it, or else do something more productive entirely than leaving comments on the internet.
Amongst all my pessimism, there is some good news from the capital, where only last weekend there were fourteen incidents of stabbings in a mere forty-eight hours. All being well, I foresee that once the economy goes entirely to pot we'll be able to subsist by exporting television programmes called 'Horror on the Streets', a venture that will recoup all the money that libertarian fools would suggest is being wasted on CCTV.
Anyway, good luck to us all ... a society that knows how to value nothing but money, and yet stands to have increasingly less of it.
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