New money

Feb 28th, 2008 | By | Category: Ireland

Two shiny black Range Rovers passed each other at the crossroads of our suburban village this morning. A mother on a school run drove one; the other was driven by an earnest looking man in his thirties, white shirt, tie and city suit. 2006 and 2007 registrations, hard times, neither had an 08 plate.

Did either need a Range Rover to navigate the roads of what was once a sleepy community outside of the city? Of course not, it was once commented that “off road” for such drivers meant two wheels on the pavement outside of the nice school attended by the children. Nor were these horsey or sailing people using the vehicle for the horsebox or the boat, neither even had a towing hitch. The Range Rover was a statement of wealth, “I have money and I am going to show everyone I have money”.

A writer friend complained last evening of Ireland’s obsession with money, but perhaps he would say that. “Call up for a cup of tea”, he said back in January.

“I must do that”, I thought and turned on the television two days later to see him being interviewed in Davos.

“Call up”, he said last evening when he phoned, “but not next week, I’m in New York”.

His signs of influence and affluence are much more subtle, but they are there as much as those of the Range Rover drivers.

Amongst the juggling of his diary and our discussion of a neighbouring house selling for over €2 million, he did say he believed that the Irish had forgotten how to be happy.

“Perhaps we’ll never be the Germans or the French”, I thought.

“No”, he said, “but we can’t even manage to be like the Brits. Conversations like how much you paid for a car or for a house would never take place amongst my friends in London”.

Perhaps they wouldn’t need to. His friends would probably be from families who had no need to show anyone what money they had, they would be secure and content.

Perhaps we need time to grow up. The money here is so new that it is still a novelty. Perhaps in a generation’s time we will learn to sit easy in a battered old Volvo and threadbare jacket. Perhaps the cars will be small enough for two to pass without one driving up the pavement.

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  1. Maybe we will start walking again, or take a bus.

  2. Your friend sounds like he’s confusing money and happiness although I guess one helps us get on with the other! With the price of petrol these days, driving any car is a luxury! We have a lot of new money here too . . .my mother used to have a saying “All money and no class!” very snobbish but it rings true!

  3. What strikes me is that the gap is becoming ever wider between the have’s and the have-not’s. I take consolation in the fact that you can’t buy happiness 😀

  4. Baino,

    I think David’s point was that Irish people had convinced themselves that they had to have all these things to attain some measure of happiness.


    I think the gap has widened considerably – but that is what Irish people have voted for consistently. The problem with democracy is that society tends not to be pyramid shaped, with the majority at the bottom, but diamond shaped with the majority in the middle. As long as that middle is comfortable, it is not going to worry too much about those below.

  5. Trouble is the poor Range Rovers lead a boring life never being used properly off-road. I can only afford a Freelander but it spends a lot of time on the green-lanes. Wish I had a Rangie it would be regularly Laned,scratched and dirty. The same sort of people drive them over here too Ian. Its the ‘Get out of my way cos I’ve got more money than you and I’m more important than you’ brigade. I call ’em ‘Nose Troughers’ ie they have to have their noses in all the latest materialistic troughs!!!!

  6. But surely the humble four by four is a necessary fashion item to be taken off the road (not off road) every sunday morning to be lovingly polished by it proud servant

  7. Peter I agree most 4×4’s are fashion items and never get taken laning or off roading. This look how big I am attitude and blocking up small roads around the schools where most 4×4’s hunt only fuels the anti 4×4 bandwagon.You will find me most Sundays (thats if I’m not laning) cleaning and polishing my old Freebie in between checking the roast and cooking the rest of the veg, I always power wash all the under side and check all mounts fixings and pipelines as a well maintained vehicle is essential when laning or off road. My Freelander may go to some out of the way places but it’s probably one of the best maintained Freelanders in the supermarket car park when it goes shopping!!!!!

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