Or rather, relative wealth and relative luck.
Although perhaps space and time have something to do with it.
Writing about books over on roughseas, I mentioned Helen Fielding. She wrote Bridget Jones’ Diary. She also went to my school and was in the year above me.
We both became journalists. No idea if she passed or even took her journalism exams or not, but I did.
She worked in London for nationals and then worked abroad. I worked in London for the civil service as a government information officer and then moved back up north. Somewhat of a difference.
Similar start in life, same school, lived within a few miles of each other and a couple of years difference in age.
Standing at the ruins of our local castle in Spain with my university friend, I pointed out the used condoms and syringes.
‘So sad,’ I said.
‘Oh I would have been up here doing all of that. Anything to get out of my home town,’ said the woman who now lives in what looks like a grade II listed Georgian mansion and whose husband is an OBE with a well-known international firm.
I guess I never really knew her at all for the previous 30 years.
At one point, I envied her life. Living in the best parts of London, going out all the time, doing the culture thing. When I realised she had to produce offspring for the family I suddenly changed my mind. Or maybe she wanted to do that too.
I read in the FT (Financial Times) that there were three major estates in London, the Crown Estate, Eton and Harrow, and the family estate of my friends (that she married into). I suspect the research was flawed to some extent, but their estate still comes up as one of the major London landowners.
Perhaps I should write a novel about her? Mediocre apparel to riches story?
The point is the same as with Helen, similar paths in life and very different end points. The two are now rich and I am not. Simple.
But contrast this with my partner at nearly sixty years of age still working on a building site. Because he not only owns one, but two/three properties and I don’t work, he is deemed as rich by his workmates.
We also have three Land Rovers, but that’s not really relevant. Our properties are owned outright. A tiny one-bed flat in central Gib, and a couple of tiny houses at a finca in Spain without land. Both properties are in a good location (I can manage to buy location, location, location, very well). Flats in my block sell quickly because it is in a good area. Houses in my street in Spain don’t come up for sale, and I’m damned if I would sell it for peanuts. The size of the plot and the location are worth shedloads on their own.
So, reading my blogs, I appear to be well-off, living an affluent life on the Med. To some extent I am, to another extent I’m not. The reason Partner is still working is that we do not have enough money to last out. Simple as that.
Perhaps I am a Lotus Eater. I did my calculations (all Net Present Value included) when I chucked work, and knew I could last for at least ten years without working. I didn’t figure on not being able to get a job though in my late forties/early fifties. Nor did I figure on the nasty horrid UK govt fiddling with my pension age. Lack of foresight there on my part.
I read blogs about people who also have two or more homes. About people who travel around the world endlessly. Or eat out all the time. I do none of those, certainly don’t want to eat out, although maybe a bit of rough travelling would be good.
Our lifestyle is the extreme opposite of affluent. I don’t lack for anything. I don’t need the dreaded flat screen TV (mentioned on roughseas) nor do I want to have an expensive and not very well prepared/cooked meal out. I don’t want to stay in five star hotels, I would rather camp with my dogs.
I see people of a similar age to me writing blogs who have pensions/some sort of regular income. That would be nice.
I see people with a lot of money being concerned about their finances. I have to confess, I laugh. But other people would laugh at me being concerned about mine. That’s why it’s all relative.
‘You have more money than me, what do you know? You’re rich.’
‘You should have looked after your money better when you were younger/not had a load of kids/twenty wives etc etc’
I wonder, when I see some people we know, how they will survive in their older age. If you can’t work, how do you pay the rent? Especially when you aren’t in the system and have been working on the black. Where do you end up?
So, I try not to give advice (except about writing of course), judge, or make assumptions. I realise how smug it sounds coming from someone who *appears* to be financially well-off.
Because by the time someone is in their mid 30s or 40s and still renting, with kids, and one or more broken expensive relationship/s behind them, they have made at least one big mistake in their life and it’s too late to get it back.
There, but for the flip of the dice, or the deal of the cards, could be me. Or you.