Monday, March 16, 2009

The consolations of idleness - a reprise

The soupy folly of the "at least the recession is allowing us to get in touch with what's really important" school of thought (best left to clergymen and Liberal Democrats that sort of thing), it is pleasing to note that people are coming to the conclusion that the pursuit of money, status and other such vapid gewgaws are hardly worth the 18-hour days, corporate greasing and the rest.

Anyway, this caveat in place, you may wish to read this piece from the Sunday Times about men who, perforce, find themselves gentlemen of leisure. And aren't they getting to love it, just?

The three former bankers had already dubbed themselves the Musketeers and have spent the first few weeks of 2009 on a rollercoaster ride of lunchtime martinis and paintballing. [Cut out the paintballing, lads. That's just embarrassing] Charles — who was laid off in December — has two kids and thought he would get rid of the nanny after the first flush of freedom, but three months later she’s still clocking on. “I found there was just too much to do,” he laughs.

Of course, the Musketeers are the lucky ones. Their bank balances are buoyant from years of lucrative toil, to say nothing of decent pay-offs or a spouse still slogging away. I go to meet them on a Tuesday afternoon at a gastro-pub in Primrose Hill, where they are finishing up a long, boozy meal. “We’re the ladies who lunch,” cries Matthew, 41. “We do a different restaurant every week — all the places we used to read about in Style, but never had the time to try out.”

At this point it's worth pointing out that most of them made so much money in their soul-sucking jobs that they can afford to do this (but then what's the point of making money if you don't get to fund more agreeable activities with it?). But interestingly a few of them appear to be relying on the woman in their life continuing to go out to work.

One may argue about whether or not the idea of getting women to work harder while the men are no longer relied upon to generate all the cash – remember Jerome K Jerome hit on this as a fine idea more than 100 years ago – is something society ought to do more to encourage. Appealing as it is, there might be downsides. Some people might even think it unfair.

However, it could not be more damaging that those saps who measured their value by the size of their pay packets. Nor can I see why it would undermine someone's sense of self-worth or esteem. On the contrary, having somebody to bankroll me in the style to which I should like to be accustomed would do wonders for the ego (heiress or working girl, it would make little difference to me).

Anyway, as ever, I digress. Let us hope that those able to live in this more gentlemanly fashion, will realise their previous folly. For them the prospect of a higher state of existence beckons - a life of contemplation, fuelled by martini lunches.

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