The final straw this week was when I read of the CEO's of the 100 largest British Companies have given themselves a 49% pay rise while the rest of us pay for their mistakes! No wonder St. Pauls has been invaded. Being paid £17 million a year today is grotesque but some of them are and complain about 50% tax.
I never realized how rich and privileged the City Establishment was until 1997 on my last trip back to UK. Being in the London theatre I thought I knew wealth. You expect the Royal Family to glitter and they do. Even in a darkened theatre the Royal family glitter but I have never experienced anything like my visit to the Barbican to see Hamlet.
The tickets were bought at the last minute. My husband's Oxford educated cousin kindly took me. To my delight he bought seats in the stalls, almost in the middle of an empty row about three from the front. I was so appreciative of my companions choice as my usual seating arrangement for most of my life has been the gallery or standing at the back of the stalls at Covent Garden. When I married my Oriel Educated GP I suppose I joined the elite by default and graduated to the stalls.
I was not dressed up for the occasion. When I looked around I noticed that there were a fair amount of formally dressed men an women but who cares I was there to see Shakespeare's greatest play. Being underdressed never bothers the English Upper Classes, it sort of runs in the territory.
Suddenly I felt the warmth of a spotlight hitting where we sat. The whole house hushed and I thought how did they know I was coming? I stifled my inclination to stand up and take a bow but before I could I was accosted by a party of brilliantly dressed people who looked like something out a 'Iolanthe' G&S's spoof on the House of Peers who were entering our row to major applause from the rest of the house.
I had to stand up to let them pass. Before me paraded in full evening dress the Lord Mayor of London and his party who were gracing the performance. I had never seen the male City Establishment in full array before. I was astonished.
The rich black velvet, the ruffles of lace, the black silk stockings, the formal decorations and the diamonds and gold glittered and shone in the limelight and these were the men. I have never seen men wearing such a show of jewels before in my life other than pantomime and those were false. These were real. The men glittered. Their wives paled into insignifiance by comparison. Just a tasteful pearl necklace and an understated frock. Nothing ostentatious or showy.
It was the first time I had seen the black velvet knickerbockers with diamond garter and black patent leather ballet pumps. A get up I always admired from Iolanthe as I find it sexy. Gilbert knew that everyone loves the House of Peers, they appear such buffons but they are not. Far from it, these Eton/OxBridge educated creatures know how to use the power life has given them to the hilt.
It was these rich city men who were the dominant features. They looked like cockerels as they edged their was past me to their seats. Hamlet which starred Susanna York as Gertrude was nothing so grand as this display I witnessed before me. These men were the stars of the evening.
As we walked to the foyer we witnessed the Establishment having a party with the champagne flowing. If I had been better dressed I could have gate crashed. My companion probably knew half of them anyway as Oxford is a free masonry of its own.
I left having a new respect for the power of the City. I have never been one for displays of wealth. I find it distasteful especially when half the world is unemployed or starving. The British Establishment better change its ways before it is too late and the tumbrels start running. I for one will not be sorry to see them go but not to the guillotine.
Am I bitter? Yes in a way I am. These men took all the education and jobs for themselves. Merit did not count in my day just an Ox/Bridge Education and the Old Boy network. Women were kept in their place and that night they still were. Now I can hold my own with any of them thanks to my husband who gave me the confidence and education to do so and now I know they look silly but they are no joke
Lastly I looked for an image that represented this fabulous show of wealth but could not find one. These men are careful not to advertise their wealth and power in the press as it might annoy the hoi polloi but when it comes to an evening out with the boys it is the full regalia. Scary.