Saturday, 16 April 2016

How To Spend It - or not.

On my return home from London on Thursday, I found in my mailbox a magazine sent to me by the publishers of The Economist. Called 1843 and subtitled The Economist Unwinds, it is a (dread word) lifestyle magazine. Named after the year The Economist was first published, the new title is a re-branding of Intelligent Life, which I'd pick up from time to time. Not enough compelling material to make it something I'd regularly buy.

Like the legendary monthly supplement to the Financial Times, honestly-titled How To Spend It, the Economist Group's new title is chock-full of adverts for Swiss watches that cost more than cars and private banking services offered by offshore banks. How To Spend It often becomes a parody of itself, whilst 1843 is not (for me anyway) as good a title as Intelligent Life. Perhaps that title put off the vacuous rich.

For the record, if you work in the marketing departments of Patek Phillipe, Ulysse Nardin, Vacheron Constantin, Pictet Private Banking or UBS - I am not in the least bit interested in your products or services. Not now, not ever. Thumbing through this magazine, I realise that as a person, I am borderline-ascetic. The trappings of wealth give me no pleasure in themselves. A comfortable, spacious house on the semi-rural fringes of a European capital city meets all my worldly needs.

Cars? No thanks. Two wheels good, four wheels bad. Watches? I have one, it tells the time, I like its neat 1960s Danish design - no need for anything else. Clothes? A lot of what I wear comes from the charity shops of Pitshanger Lane. Nice stuff, top brands - a tenth of retail price and the money goes to do good. Bottles of wine that normally cost $1,000 bought for a mere $500? Lidl's Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon for 14zł is fine, thanks. Marks and Sparks for shirts and undies, Vistula suits, Loakes shoes, Levis jeans and outerwear by the finest men's outdoor tailors in the world - the US Army.

So - to answer a question posed by an article in the current issue of 1843 - why do I work? I am no longer motivated by material need. I go to work every weekday (and often take work home at the weekend) because I like my work, I like the people I work with, and believe strongly that it helps. The money's a nice reward, but not the prime motivator that it once was.

What else would I buy if I could? A plot of land further along down ul. Trombity, ideally backing on the lake. And there I'd build a neo-modern dream home - a contemporary take on mid-century modern American or Scandinavian designs - window from floor to ceiling, flat roof (local planners permitting) and a huge garden going down to the water's edge. That's about it.

Travel? Before I set off for anywhere else in the world, I've got to get to know Poland inside out and back to front. Back-roads, rural Poland. The excellent website lists 15 (well 16 actually) of Poland's Most Beautiful Churches. I've seen just five of them - and - to my surprise - NINE of them I'd never even heard of before! [How have you scored on the Polish churches?]

Poland is so stuffed with pearls of natural and man-made beauty that I feel I must see more of the country before travelling further afield. And on the other hand, Britain (which I know much better) also has treasures that I must visit. Depth not breadth!

And no need to show off. The notion of doing a job I don't like to buy things I don't need to impress people I can't stand is anathema to me.

This time last year:
Blossomtime sublime

This time four years ago:
Novotel Forum clad in Orange

This time five years ago:

This time six years ago:
Icelandic volcano shuts down NW Europe air traffic

This time eight years ago:
Large, charismatic fowl

This time nine years ago:
Antonov An-26 in the twilight of its career


student SGH said...

Wealthy meatheads spluring their money wastefully are a brilliant source of income for producers and distributors of (high-margin) luxury goods, which often are ordinary goods, labelled and branded to be dedicated only for the chosen ones and thus pricey...

Reading someone else does his job out of pure pleasure and motivation is uplifting. Tough my spending habits are well below what I could afford to buy, material goods do matter, maybe as I grow wealthier and have my needs met they will not.

student SGH said...

PS. the Wang Church in Karpacz is missing on the list :)

John Savery said...

I've been inside 4 of the churches listed, and have seen 2 of the others externally. I've regular passed the Basilica at Święta Góra driving between Wolsztyn and Jarocin but never ventured inside.

Poland is blessed with a plethora of beautiful churches, and there are plenty that could make the list. The baroque Kosciol Fara just off the Rynek in Poznan, Sandomierz cathedral, Wroclaw cathedral, with its twin spires, contrasted with the high vaults of the concrete built Dominican church in Służewiec.

I also agree with Student SGH, the Wang Chapel should be included.

Paddy said...

Great post, thanks for continuing pulling out a helpful moral compass for your readers.