Let’s talk about money..then again let’s not
By Umbreen Ali
December 5, 2011, 2:13 pm

In our current economic or in any climate is it crass to discuss our finances, wealth and our outgoings?

Generally speaking it either leaves the recipient feeling awkward and uncomfortable or in awe and envious.

At a recent dinner party a gentleman who had ascertained my London origins informed of his multi-million pound property holdings in Mayfair. I retorted that Mayfair for me depicted a tourist type visit to the institute that is Harrods.

But perhaps, as I play devil’s advocate, the aforementioned man was not making an attempt at spewing details of his wealth for any vulgar purpose, but that he simply did not know any better.

In his social circle this kind of discussion may well be the norm to ensure acceptance. Just as for many it is imperative to disclose where exactly they have dined and holidayed and played golf. 

Another man at the same party asked me if I had heard of Louboutin’s. Rather than be affronted by his question my natural instinct was to burst into laughter, well more so at his superior attitude that only someone with a bank balance as large as his could have heard of Louboutin’s.

I am a woman and am well aware of the desirable shoes that are out of my price range.

In any fiscal climate it is rendered appropriate to divulge governmental spending figures and discuss such finances with all the scrutiny of experts on the matter.

But on a personal level, it simply because tasteless dialogue.

One acquaintance that I met after a few years absence-we were in the same social circle in the days of the financial boom- was disgruntled to have had to abandon her £2.2m house and openly contemptuous at having to downgrade to a £1.5m home.

The shame of it, moving into a property the layperson would consider rather comfortable. Clearly one persons trance is another’s tedium. We are in a climate where adopting an austere approach to life is becoming the norm, where shopping in Lidl is considered common sense, and a Saturday night spent at home is no longer considered an unsocial activity.

So surely moving out of a home with an extortionate mortgage should be seen as exercising good business sense rather than a scorn for downgrading.

Someone recently questioned me about the amount of my rent. I nearly choked on my Americano. Since when did candid disclosure of rent and mortgages become morning coffee etiquette?

Family and close friends are entitled to be entrusted with such personal details, but otherwise it is a question that should remain off-limits.

It’s like those women who disclose how much their husband spent on an item of jewellery bought for them.

That’s as bad as showing off about a baby that sleeps through the night to the mother whose newborn wakes her every hour. It’s almost as tasteless as posting your holidays pictures on Facebook. Such activities are indicative of democratic decay.

One friend claimed that the recession and decline in business meant the disposing of the night nanny, and the children’s extra-curricular activities cancelled. But they simply could not deny themselves the annual Dubai holiday which entailed staying in the exquisite (and slightly child unfriendly) Burj al Arab. I inquired all too tactfully why that particular hotel and not others.

Well, she stated matter of fact, the others do not have rooms large enough. Her children are used to a large home and simply could not adjust to anything short of seven star quality.

Well, who can argue with that logic? I don’t know if I was supposed to applaud her or gravely sympathise with her rapidly greying husband. Perhaps there is no denying the reality that money talks, despite the vulgar connotation of it.

After all, D.H Lawrence claimed that, ‘…money is the seal and stamp of success.’ Yet money simply cannot buy etiquette.

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