Passing an Aston Martin dealer on the journey to work, it is intriguing to note the cars thought cheap enough to be parked on the tarmac outside of the glass-windowed showroom. Even the cheapest options are usually multiples of a teacher’s salary. Two, three, or four years of gross pay would be needed to drive away in one of the cars, and there would be nothing left with which to pay the insurance, maintenance, etc.
The odd thing is that the prices are displayed at all. Aren’t these the sort of item where if you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it?
The oddest thing of all was a Rolls Royce parked among a number of less ostentatious cars. Attached to the Rolls Royce was a plastic number holder into which plastic digits had been inserted to show the sale price: £125,950. It seemed slightly bizarre.
Do dealers selling cars at six figure values usually leave them parked out on the tarmac? Do cars being sold for six figures usually have their prices advertised to passers-by as if they were fruit or vegetables on a costermonger’s barrow? If the prices are to be advertised, could a dealer who was selling in such a market not afford to display them in a manner more sophisticated than through individual plastic digits?
However, the oddest thing of all was the price itself: £125,950. How would such a price arise? Wouldn’t cars being sold for such high values be priced at £5,000 intervals, or £2,500 intervals. Wouldn’t the price be £125,000 or £127,500? And if £1,000 intervals were to be used, wouldn’t it be £126,000? What is the function of £50 in the context of a sum 2,500 times greater?
Perhaps the buyers of Rolls Royces are the sort of people who could spend £125,950 but baulk at the thought of an additional £50.
A memory came of a lady who lived in a fine old manor house in the midst of hundreds of acres of land. Meals were taken at the polished antique, dining room table where her forebears stared down from the portraits on the walls. Food was eaten from bone china crockery using monogrammed silver cutlery.
Calling one evening, the lady asked if I had eaten. I admitted I had not. “I shall make something,” she said.
It was the first, and almost certainly last, time that I had eaten baked beans on toast with a sterling silver knife and fork.
I can imagine the lady arguing about the £50, insisting on its deduction. Perhaps that was how her family had retained their wealth.