The monied & gated

First, let me assure gentle reader of my qualifications, when writing on this topic. Let me declare my interest, candidly, for I have been accused of bias. I am rich beyond the dreams of avarice, especially since my old-age pension cut in; so wealthy, in material terms, that I am often able to pay my rent sharply the moment it is due, and keep in cigarettes besides. I must have bought twenty thousand books in the course of my life, and through salvage and repurchase have reacquired, say, one in every five. And this is not to mention attractive ceramic pots, and four French copper utensils, and a few hundred classical CDs, with a player. My landlord has supplied a working refrigerator and electric stove. Wires lead to half a dozen light sockets; and there are wall plugs scattered generously about. I have more than I need.

Moreover, I retain my position as Otiosus Otiosorum, Lord Denizen of the High Doganate, and Scrivener-General of the Idleblog. Lots of ugly mail, though.

While there are persons who are wealthier, in worldly terms, I knock Diogenes into a cocked hat, and until the recent Batflu regulations were imposed, went on long walks in my splendour. For did I mention that I am also the proud owner of multiple shirts, more than one pair of trousers, and not only a venerable tweed jacket but a heavy winter coat. Too, I have a hat, infused with waterproofing duck oil, for when it is raining.

So I have no reason to envy or resent those who might seem excessively monied, and live in gated estates with security guards; even those who give us lectures on our racism, and add their voices to demands that we defund the police, or call us stupid when we take what they say at face value. “They have their reward,” as Our Saviour explained. I am not even tempted to pick their pockets and (perhaps here I am getting a little smug myself), would never do acts of violence against them. I haven’t murdered a single one. These days, my pleasure is to avoid them.

I used to mix more freely with the much-monied classes, when I was younger and even richer. Quite frankly, I found them often lacking in elegance, some quite depraved, and all-round, as base as the poor. But it is up to them to make their selection between Heaven and Hell; they were anyway not listening to advice when I gave it. (Always on small points.)

Ruskin spoke well of royalty, both real and affected, when he noticed that they live behind walls. He said he was not curious what they did behind them. There were few paparazzi in his day, though many socialists already. Morbid curiosity they spread like a disease. But ho: if the rich have no business telling us how to live, surely we have no business telling them, either. Myself, I try to give only the most general instructions.

Nor have we any business instructing the poor, although it is a Victorian hobby that is still growing. If they will agree not to riot or set fires, I see no reason to pummel them with clubs or lathi sticks, or shoot those whom we find most annoying. The old-fashioned principle of “live and let live” can be applied to those of all social classes, and impartially with regard to race and gender.

It is not “social distancing” — merely a question of proper hygiene — but a spiritual aloofness that we need most urgently in these troubled times.