When it comes to identifying the deep and residual humanitarian problems with consumer capitalism, it’s time to stop examining the apathy of the working classes. It’s time to stop feeling sorry for poor people, as gruesome as poverty is. The solution will only come when working class people revolt, but in terms of identifying the actual problems with huge wealth inequality, let’s stop kidding ourselves that poor people are the only victims.
There is no greater advert for revolutionary activism than Waitrose in Wilmslow.
For those unfamiliar with the geography of Greater Manchester, it is a semi-rural, affluent (hence the existence of it’s very own Waitrose) suburb, situated on the outskirts of South Manchester and home to many professional footballers and low-level Mancunian celebrities.
I grew up on shitty council estates, at times legally (not actually) homeless, but I also lived in Notting Hill for a number of years. I’m not suggesting this makes me any sort of authority on wealth inadequacy, but fuck MEEEE there is a really obvious problem with the aspirational.
And that problem is best typified by the horror one experiences when venturing to Wilmslow Waitrose.
The car park is rammed with expensive cars.
As previously outlined, Wilmslow is a semi-rural area. Emphasis on the semi. It simply isn’t the terrain to accommodate a Hummer. Hummers aren’t necessary. Not even during the eight weeks or so of possible snow that occurs in the New Year. Even then, your average Nissan Micra could probably see you right. At a push, one of those mid-range slightly higher saloon cars. There’s no need for a pimped out fucking Range Rover.
Equally, that Enzo Ferrari is a beautiful fucking car. The beauty of it, is that it goes really fast really quickly. Not in Wilmslow, cocker. Most of the streets next to the precious private schools are working a 20MPH speed limit. You’re simply not getting the use out of it.
But never let it be said I begrudge people their luxuries. The sheer absurdity of a 300-space car park with a net value greater than certain developing world countries, is neither here nor there to me. I give not one shiny shit. I have never been the sort of person to covet another’s material possessions. Unless those possessions are either a) cake or b) once belonged to/ touched Cantona.
It’s not that you enter the car park and see the tiniest inappropriate sports cars and the hugest fucking monster trucks on wheels. That is not the problem. The problem is that most of these cunts cannot fucking drive. They have such a sense of entitlement that common courtesy is forsaken, and in its place is a sort of parking extension of that ambition that clearly transcends other aspects of their lives (hence the wealth). They don’t let you go first. They park in the middle of the lane to drop off their hideous, privileged relatives, without a thought for the legions of cars mounting up behind them. Everyone will just have to fucking WAIT, for fuck’s sake.
Then you get out of your car. And as soon as you’re out of your car, you’re bum rushed by “busy” people attempting to access their car parked next to yours. Sighing audibly as you unclip your nipper from the back seat, a cautious eye on your car door to see if it hits their oversized fucking utility vehicle for one.
Then you get your trolley. There’s no appreciation, or natural pecking order for the elderly or those with kids. It’s each man for himself, and any struggle you may have trying to hold your toddler while putting a pound in the trolley is met not with a knowing fellow womanly smile, but more of derisory snort and a body language sign reading, “Hurry up, cunt.”
Walking around Waitrose one would be forgiven for believing they were not in a luxury grocery retailer for the relatively wealthy, and instead were forming part of a funeral procession for a well-loved and upstanding citizen with a big family. No-one smiles. Ever. It’s miserable, aggressive or pensive and nothing else.
And there’s a uniform.
The woman is over 35 and has multi-tonal expensive blonde highlights, a child or two, a well-honed Pilates body, leopard-skin handbags, Ugg boots, leggings, short leather biker jackets, oversized sunglasses, and an expression wavering between abject misery and contempt.
The man is also over 35 and is wearing a quilted jacket, plaid shirt and ill-fitting jeans. Always. He is equally smile-less and he’s often nursing a minor injury.
The kids – when there are kids – are often being bellowed at condescendingly in some sort of active parenting show for the benefit of fellow patrons. They are “actively included” in grocery choices, but the entire process is joyless and there’s often an increasing desperation as the middle class parent is unable to sustain the parenting charade throughout the entire shop.
Ultimately, you are left with the prevailing feeling that those succeeding at consumer capitalism are unable to live within the moment. So focussed are they on future attainment and ambition. The more you have, the more you want.
You often hear the financially privileged saying they “… just like nice things.” Do they though? How would anyone know? You’ll find more smiles at Butlins than you will at a five star spa resort, and I know because I’ve done both. A lot.
It is shit being poor. No two ways about it. But that doesn’t mean it’s great being rich either.
I had the misfortune of driving through a McDonalds Drive-Thru, attached to Wythenshawe Civic Centre on the same day as a recent Waitrose at Wilmslow visit.
They were both really shit, but there were more smiles at the chemical factory.
If Wilmslow Waitrose teaches us anything it’s that the poor are not the only ones suffering as a consequence of wealth inadequacy.
I’ve attended happier bereavement counselling sessions. Truthfully.
Perhaps the rich are only happy at home. Because they aren’t happy at the National Trust parks they attend. They aren’t happy on expensive holidays. They aren’t happy during First Class public travel.
If you’re happy and you know it, tell your face.