The London Paper – 1 May 2009
What is it about the ‘Rich List’ that compels me to read it every year? Last weekend I scuttled into my newsagent and furtively bought the Sunday Times, which has published this infernal catalogue of excess for the last 21 years. As usual I wrapped it up in a hard-core porn mag to disguise my disgusting habit just in case I happened to bump into a neighbour. I then rushed home, locked myself in the bogs and thumbed through its despicable pages.
Inside I discovered that the 1000 richest folk in Britain are now ‘only’ worth £258 billion – down a shocking 37% from the record breaking £413bn of 2008. Obviously my heart bled for those poor guys who may now have to make do with only one private jet. I felt particularly awful for poor old Lakshmi Mittal who endured the largest loss of 2008 (£16.9bn), though my tears were held back somewhat by the fact he remains Britain’s wealthiest man with £10.8bn. I also discovered that the entry point to being in the top 1000 had reduced from £80m to a piffling £55m.a
After I came out looking flushed and guilty from my twenty minutes on the toilet I had to explain to ‘her indoors’ that I had not been spanking the monkey but rather doing something infinitely more degrading. She asked me why I had to engage in this annual ritual when it made me feel so dirty and I began thinking about whether it was such a wise move. I decided to write down the five key emotions it elicited and then decide if my addiction was healthy:
1. Envy – When the average Brit earns £25K do we really need to hear about 1000 jokers living on our fair isle with an average £258m to their name?
2. Incredulity – How on earth have these sick critters managed to make so much money?
3. Despair – What sort of sick and twisted world are we living in that allows these mainly white, old, men to have such vast wealth when people are starving on the streets?
4. Dissatisfaction – I thought I was doing OK but I’m just a two-bit loser relative to these toe-rags.
5. Schandenfreude – At least they’ve lost shed loads over the last 12 months!
After analyzing what this list made me feel I quickly reached the conclusion that the only people who should ever have any interest in this dreadful crap are the ‘Rolex Robbers’ and other thieves out there who already apparently scan its pages avidly looking for wealthy victims. Everyone else should avoid buying into its Thatcherite premise that wealth is the only measure of success and our one true God.
I certainly won’t be reading it again … although that may have something do with the fact that my chances of every attaining the requisite £55m seem negligible and, if you’re not on it, what’s the bleeding point?