Sunday, 13 May 2007

Living Like Bloody Millionaires...

This was my mother-in-law's favourite response when my then boyfriend and I would go off together as students, to exotic places like Spain and Italy, (other people we knew went to Tibet and Thailand, but, yanno...) or eat out more than twice a month.

We love the phrase and use it all the time now. "Going out to breakfast? Oooh...yer living like bloody millionaires...!"

Reading Fortune magazine over coffee this morning, I noticed that they had a special section which might as well have been entitled 'How To Live Like A Bloody Millionaire.'

(I don't know why we get Fortune magazine. Neither of us remembers subscribing, but there it is every month, along with the Speccie and Time.)

They actually called it 'Life At The Top'. It is a guide to how you can spend eye-popping amounts of money on bags, cars, golf clubs, wine, and featured a brief interview with Cartier's North America boss Federic de Narp, improbably handsome and sleek, giving tips about shoes, shirts, briefcase, coffee, watch (mai, bien sur...), where to have lunch, what brand of umbrella...

I notice that they didn't ask him about his exercise regime. US businessmen have to be all about the daily workout regime (like Haim Saban, featured elsewhere in the issue) and 'visionary futurist' Ray Kurzweil who reckons that exercise, diet and 230 daily supplement pills has slowed his aging process. I'd like to think that the European alpha male can still put style, elegance and culture before a slavish devotion to the gym. But I doubt it. You don't keep a figure like de Narp's or Antonio Baravalle's, the molto sexy head of Alfa Romeo, without some work. European businessmen probably keep that sort of thing quiet.

My poor father wouldn't have enjoyed this brave new world of sushi and pilates. He revelled in the three-course, boozy working lunch that finished with brandy and a packet of cigarettes, where exercise meant the distance you had to walk from your chauffeur-driven car to your next meeting. Which may have contributed to his death aged 46.

I must have something of an Electra complex though, because the sight of a handsome businessman in well-tailored, dark blue pinstripe suit, white shirt and tie makes me weak at the knees...

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