Hands up who envies me
There's a doctor, too. I envy his life. Regular, you might say; house bought and paid for because the private practice is doing well, and a decent car on the horizon, been making do with a BMW for a while but had his eye on a Jaguar, the new one, very nice, thinks he can probably justify it; re-mortgaged the house, took a bit of a punt on the market, raked it in, just one of those things. Never touched the pension fund, of course; God knows you don't want to take a drop in your living standards just at the moment your time becomes your own. Nice to have enough to keep the boat in the water, travel, get to know your wife again, so you top up, do you see? Few quid a month, it piles up. Thing is at the moment, spending it. No time. Private patients, NHS work, refresher training, conferences, it's all go. And just when you have one of those bad days one of your patients goes into labour and you've a brand new baby to bring into this tough old world, cheers you up. A good life. I envy it. I'd like it.
And look over there: the woman with the briefcase full of books and doctoral theses. Decided she wanted to be a professor when she was eight and here she is now, a professor, just back from the USA, just off to Germany, lecturing, researching, writing, salary in the bank regular as you please, nice husband, nice house, bright daughter, everything as it should be. A good life. I envy it. I envy the man on the other side of the bar, too: another academic, distinguished career, took up broadcasting, made a success of it, awards, the lot; nice flat in Bloomsbury, wonderful house like a boathouse on a Thames island, a good life; I envy it as much as this man, snug in his studio, bottle at his side, canvas on the easel, paints laid out, woman upstairs in the big bed, waiting, an enviable life, as enviable as that man, suntanned, just come back from Cannes, brown as a nut, new film a succes d'estime, offers coming in, drinks on the terrace, have another - what's the rush? - an enviable life indeed.
And then yet another man, scuttling home, late with a deadline, late with another deadline, hasn't finished his book, can't finish his book, can't face it, so late it's daunting, can't afford to finish it because he never got the knack of schmoozing up his wages. Never got the knack of unpacking his things, either, so he crashes about his flat on the bare floorboards, avoiding looking in boxes, avoiding answering the phone it case it's someone else he's letting down, peers through the letterbox for enemies, no doorbell so that's a relief, but no pension fund either, no property, no boat, no car, just too many clothes, a surfeit of gadgets, a disorganised life and it's getting late, the taxman on his back and not a bean to his name. No. Untrue. A lot of beans to his name but he doesn't want them, can't even look at the cheque; it's a legacy, do you see, from his mother, the money he'd least like to have in the world, can't cash it because it'd be final, that would be that, do you see, so every time he thinks about it he starts crying because he doesn't want the money; he wants his mother. Oh look. It's me. Hands up who thinks it's a good life. Hands up who envies me. And how does this paragraph play in Kosovo?
TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Peter Lik: The self-proclaimed 'fine-art photographer' whose work sells for millions
The best underrated Christmas movies from Love, Actually to While You Were Sleeping
Grace Dent on TV: The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies was a beautifully shot, immensely considered drama
The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, review: Jason Watkins is brilliant, but real victim Joanna Yeates is reduced to a footnote
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food