I’m currently working a job that I loathe, which has a very long daily commute. The only bright point of the day is that this drive takes place through some of the most gorgeous English countryside ever – the soft, rolling hills and green farmland of Cheshire.
On the commute is a village named Alderley Edge, which sort of tries to be unpretentious even though it is home to immensely overpaid footballers and other celebrities, and homes start at upwards of a million pounds in the rough end of town. You know, the part of town where people only have one housekeeper and no driver. Aston Martins and Ferrarris are commonplace, and all the women are very tan and blonde and drive massive petrolsucking black SUVs on the school run.
You can tell from their children that the very rich are different from you and I. There are several private (or public, as they say here – which always confused me) girls’ and boys’ schools on the way, and the kids that you see walking to school are of an entirely different species than the ones that I see in the town where we live. The girls are almost without exception tall and slender, with long tan legs and long, straight, shining hair. They wear the very traditional school uniforms (which in the summer actually includes a straw boater with a ribbon around the crown) and somehow manage to make a blazer and skirt look like haute couture.
The town where I live is nice – it’s been a market town since 1270, has it’s share of gorgeous black-and-white postcard buildings around the town square, and used to have the claim to fame of having more pubs per person than any other town in England – that was before the smoking ban, of course. But let’s be honest – there are an awful lot of chavs that live here. A walk through the town centre on a Friday night will feature a lot of fat spraytanned girls, showing their tramp-stamped/whale tailed asses above their lowcut jeans as they vomit up alcopops on the sidewalk. They display wobbly white guts underneath crop tops as a mark of pride – it takes a lot of cider and Findus pancakes to build those figures.
Am I admitting to a wide streak of snobbery? Probably. But a tiny, frail 97-year-old woman just a few houses down the street from me was fatally beaten by children a few years ago. On my street. By kids that we probably pass every day. Things like that tend to sour one’s outlook a bit. Do crimes like that happen in Alderley Edge? Probably not. If they’re committing any crimes, it’s white collar crime like their tax-evading parents – they probably aren’t stealing mobiles so they can buy more cider and fags.
Anyway, it’s nice to see how the other 1% lives – even if one has to peek through the gates on the drive to see it. :) At lunch I go out walking, half hour out, half hour back. It’s a gorgeous walk, along shaded streets. Every house is massive, and everything is so clean. All the front courts look as though there’s a wizened old gardener who darts out with a rake every time a leaf falls off a tree. Hell, for all I know, there IS a little guy at each house who exists to keep everything pristine. It’s certainly a long way from my back garden, which manages to be both overgrown and untidy as well as tiny.
But you know what? It’s still home. :)