But we didn't. And they're back. The yuppies. The evidence is all about us: a Cabinet full of them, to start with: young-ish (but not as young as they think they are), hopeful, pleased with themselves, doing well. There's the cut-off point: doing well. I've never been able to pull it off, and, if you're honest with yourself, neither have you. Try it. Go on: try it now. "I am doing well." Say it. Roll the words around your mouth. Do they fit? Or do you feel fraudulent, riddled with guilt, bowed down under the freight of lost opportunity, stumbling foolishly towards the silent tomb, your mouth hanging open and your flies undone?
Check your career progress. How does that strike you? Load of bollocks? Precisely. Mucked it up, all the way down the line, and does anyone care? Does anyone ever come up to you and say, "Look, the whole country knows you've been shamefully treated, and, by God, we're going to deal with it, now." Out come the wads of pounds 50 notes, out come the keys to the Ferrari and the big house, on go the shantung shirt and the snakeskin loafers. Television cameras materialise from ... well, the television companies, I suppose, but there they are, as is the slinky bint in her bondage boots and riot skirt who wiggles alongside you and licks her lips before sliding her hand down your strides in full view of the world's media, as a down-payment on promises yet to be fulfilled. The reporters cheer. Clive Anderson fights with Angus Deayton to have you on his show. Princess Diana stands outside your window in the middle of the night, barking like a hyena. German tourists waving inflatable luminous Bratwurst form human pyramids on your lawn. A word from you and lean, bronzed men (cold blue eyes fixed on the far horizon) climb into trees and fire tranquil- liser darts at the Spice Girls before shipping them off to slavery in the vegetable cabarets of the Ginza and the Patpong Road.
But it hasn't happened and it won't happen. You've blown it. Never voted yourself a massive increase in your compensation package? Well there you are then. You are one of us, one of the miserable dog-faced buggers who nods sagely at Blair "Outrage" at Lottery Chiefs' Fat-Cat Deal. You probably think, "at least I have my honour", but that's like saying, "at least we lost". The Lottery Chiefs don't need honour. They've got the money.
And that's the way it's going to be. While the sleazy Tories were in power, we could all rage against their hideous Brylcreemed self- interest, declaring ourselves kinder, gentler people and spending our evenings on the toilet (where we kept the working light-bulb), poring over the Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy in search of new diseases to pray they came down with.
But now Mr Blair is in power, why, everything has changed. Faced with the ludicrous sight of government ministers appearing in public to tell us not to run the tap when cleaning our teeth (with baking powder and a renewable frayed stick) and insisting that we breast-feed in public ("Excuse me, madam, but could I borrow your baby?"), the more opportunist among us will be going violently the other way.
It's been happening already, pre-emptively. The street where I live is being slowly given over to yuppies. They like it because it's interesting my dears, such a mix, really vibrant. Such fascinating people: a saxophonist, a playwright, a wild-eyed recidivist, two immensely tall transvestites, a mad policeman, a composer, a soprano, a pair who were rumoured to practise gleeful incest at weekends, a superannuated hooker, a pair of ancient tweedy scholars, an invisible person who cannot play the piano although he does so all the time ...
But they aren't there any more, or they won't be for very long. They are being thrown out, unable or unwilling to come up with the necessary pounds 125,000 oops pounds 140,000 oops pounds 160,000 oops pounds 175,000 for three rickety floors in a crumbling, jerry-built, 18th-century hovel. I myself will be out two days after you read this. And in our place will come the yuppies, the smirking deathly bores, with their interior design and their refurbishment, their German motor cars, American refrigerators, Japanese food and simian ignorance. The builders will take them for a ride, spinning out a four- week job for six months, hammering, hammering, hammering. The money will be staggering. And all the heart will go out of the street. Instead, Tikki and Charles ("Taxi!") will give dinner-parties to show off their new, expensive, hammered-to-buggery house to Jess and Ronika and That-Shit- Toby: New World chardonnay and char-grilled alligator and lots of chat about skiing and money and cars and money and offshore assets and the gym and money and Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle because they want to seem like Renaissance people and science is the new big thing.
And perhaps occasionally, in the bleak hours after silent recriminatory sex, Tikki and Charles might wonder why it's not quite ... why it isn't as ... whey they aren't entirely ... but, then, never mind. It's an investment. What with house prices as they are. Isn't Blair miraculous?
Look around you. Shoulder pads. Shiny new cars, many of them black. Women in go-fuck-yourself shoes. Men in hair gel. The smell of grooming products stronger than ever. My street, my patch, bought out by pointless, useless, yapping swine. I've had it. I'm off. (And if I do occasionally dream of shelling out the pounds 175,000 oops pounds 210,000, plus half as much again for the hammering hammering hammering, and holing up in my country cottage - bought at the bottom of the market, my son - until it's all done up and dinner- party smart - well, I'm only human. But at least I have my honour.)Reuse content