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Oh dear Polly, oh dear oh dear

La Toynbee is actually from gilded privilege. Only a coupler of generations or so from proper landed arsotocracy (there’s an Earl back in there somewhere). She should know better than this:

The Elite London, described as the city’s “most exclusive jet-set lifestyle event”, filled Wycombe Air Park with row after row of gleaming private jets, seaplanes, hovercrafts (with one for kids), helicopters, and supercars either the size of tanks, or flat on the ground like giant skateboards.

In hangar after hangar, the wares on sale last weekend were designed and priced for the super-rich, though possibly not quite for the cadres in this year’s Sunday Times rich list, which bills itself as “a celebration of aspiration”. A “truly bespoke” £30,000 safe had six permanently revolving wheels that keep your watches synchronised; they recently sold one to protect a household’s £1.3m collection of watches. A writing service offered an illustrated memoir of your life’s successes for £28,000. A monster Land Rover Defender, with its boot open to display champagne and a magnificent picnic basket, promoted educational advice: “Opening the door to the best boarding schools and universities.”

That’s all for the nouveaux and aspirant, that’s not actually for the rich at all.

15 thoughts on “Oh dear Polly, oh dear oh dear”

  1. It reminded people that only the state, collecting taxes, can protect us in emergencies, staving off economic disaster by supporting families and companies.

    If COVID is an example of why the state is protector ‘par excellence’ then we’re all fucked. What planet do these people live on? Lockdowns have killed hundreds of millions and the vaccine death toll might be even higher. This is used as evidence of the need for a stronger state??

  2. VP, the Planet Toynbee is in a far, far distant place, not reachable by human beings. I just hope it works both ways…
    So much more noble to work for a beggar, the proceeds of begging, I assume, being non taxable, which would suit the Graun type of socialism perfectly.

  3. Oh for a modern day Lehrer to slice and dice the hypocrisy of the Countess of Tuscany.

    Her autobiography, here reviewed by………the guardian, might have missed the mark somewhat although I give both author and reviewer some credit for at least mentioning her connections albeit not quite addressing the question of how this at best average intellect got into Oxford* in the first place.

    And then there is Polly herself, on whom she sheds a fierce, forensic light. What she finds is the inherited good fortune that takes the form of confidence and connections rather than thousands of acres or millions in the bank. It was this that allowed her to spectacularly mess up her education (11-plus and O-level failure, Oxford dropout) and yet eventually emerge with a well-paid career as a journalist specialising, by and large, in other people’s misfortune.

    * In a way Polly was unfortunate. 50 years later and with a few self-identified intersectionality’s rather than dropping out she would have sailed through her (insert word here) studies degree course.

  4. “ That’s all for the nouveaux and aspirant, that’s not actually for the rich at all”

    Can’t the nouveau be riche as well? Indeed wasn’t that part of the origin of the phrase, that they were more rich than the aristocracy, but spent it on bling?

  5. What VP said. Covid proved that the public sector is a fucking waste of space and fatally so.

    What worked a treat during covid, despite global supply chain issues and stupid state interference, was the highly-competitive, private sector supermarket business.

    Not quite sure I get Tim’s original point. He seems to be confusing wealth and class. The types buying a £30k watch-winder/safe for a £1.3m watch collection might well be terribly non-u but they are inarguably rich.

  6. Tut tut.

    Those revolving wheels are to keep your watches wound, not synchronized.

    It’s your watch sommelier’s job to set them to the correct time once a week. Why on earth else would one employ one?

  7. Only the state can keep us safe?
    You’re forgetting the supranational institutions. Like the WHO that did such a sterling job. Or the ICC that protects us from terrorists such as the Israeli defence minister.

  8. Can’t help but notice that Pol’s written precisely nothing on the NHS infected blood murders & cover-ups. Not saying she hasn’t touched on the subject of the NHS recently. But that was her usual criticising of the “underfunding” of its saintly activities. So we know where her sympathies lie. You can’t be more unequal than dead, can you?

  9. In the pub after work one Friday someone else’s research student accused me of being posh.

    “Don’t be daft” says I, “I dress like a ragamuffin, cycle almost everywhere, and if I want to go further use a dirty old Landrover.”

    “Ah” says she “Everyone knows that’s how Dukes behave so you are posh.”

    Lesson: don’t debate “posh” with a member of the English race. You’ll lose. Unless it’s Polly.

  10. Surely the contaminated blood wasn’t underfunding forcing the buying of cheap American stuff, but lack of local supply, forcing the purchase of other people’s stuff. Lord Spudcup insists that throwing money at the NHS would have magicked up millions of extra blood donors.

  11. Bloke in North Dorset

    Completely OT, but a subject that is discussed here often:

    Isn’t lying to MPs worse than lying to a court and can she be jailed for contempt?

    Former Post Office boss Paula Vennells has admitted that evidence she gave to MPs looking into problems with the Horizon IT system in 2012 was not true.

    Speaking publicly for the first time in almost ten years, Ms Vennells broke down as she was questioned over the scandal, saying her previous assertion that there had been no failed Horizon prosecutions was not correct.

    From the Beeb.

    As our host says often: jail them first and let them argue their way out.

  12. Wycombe Air Park (a few miles from me) would struggle to take a business jet, there’s a few turboprops use it (such as the single-engined Piper, pictured in the article) but I very much doubt you’d get a Gulfstream in there – they go to Luton or Northolt, Wycombe is mostly for training flights, gliders and helicopters.

  13. “lack of local supply, forcing the purchase of other people’s stuff.”

    But NHS Scotland had spare production capacity and so offered some product to NHS England. I’ve never seen an explanation of NHS England turning it down.

    Sometimes you have to wonder about bribes.

  14. @ dearieme 7:11
    Sometimes you have to wonder about hat sizes – could NHS England accept that the smaller NHS Scotland was superior on any count?
    I started off to answer your earlier reminiscence with one of my own: (others’ view of posh can be as much how one speaks and acts as wealth or class): while working in a research boutique that I joined after HR manouvered my inclusion in a block redundancy I expressed mild surprise at the size of the mortgage that the Financial Controller said that she and her husband had taken on to move to a nicer house “my biggest mortgage was only £xk” to which she replied “Yes, but everyone knows you’re loaded” [I wasn’t, never had been, have given away more than I inherited] *but* I didn’t visibly worry about money any more than the 1950s Duke of Devonshire worried about being mistaken for his gardener so she assumed I had so much I never needed to worry about it.

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