Don't believe Boris Johnson could feel broke after taking home £141,000? I do

The solid, irrefutable truth is that money will make all daily minutiae of life much, much easier and that’s why Boris Johnson and thousands of his wage bracket guard their status like lions and always, always need just a bit more

Grace Dent
Monday 02 October 2017 14:48
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So two-tier and polarised is modern Britain that once you have experienced the smoothness of a life like the family Johnson, living any other way is simply unthinkable
So two-tier and polarised is modern Britain that once you have experienced the smoothness of a life like the family Johnson, living any other way is simply unthinkable

As if the drizzly slide towards autumn isn’t spirit-quashing enough, we must also face sad news this week that Boris Johnson is reportedly, feeling skint. The Foreign Secretary has reportedly told friends – albeit “friends” dear enough to rat on him to the press – that the £141,000 per annum salary he earns is not enough due to his “extensive family responsibilities”. Boris has fathered four children via his wife, Marina, and another via his previous bit on the side, Helen.

If Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson from Islington was, instead, Brian Johnston from Bradford earning £32,000 per year for driving a stacker truck, he’d get short shrift from the Tories over his inability to feed all these kids he recklessly shagged into existence.

“Should’ve worn a condom, Brian!” they’d snark. Or, “Have you thought about budgeting your money carefully, Brian? Do you have a TV, a phone, a car or a fridge with a working light bulb? These luxuries may need go.”

If Brian was lucky, he might have been given a patronising leaflet suggesting he line different-coloured jam jars on a shelf to “save” for luxuries like heat and lunch.

Theresa May asked if Boris Johnson is unsackable

But while Boris’s alleged feelings about his salary are awkward, incendiary and exposing – and the irony is plutonium-grade that a very rich man who is globally renowned for not doing a terribly good job should now be kvetching that he should earn more for it – I feel there’s a more relevant parable here on how the other half live. I say “other half” as if my life sits a million right-on miles from such squandersome frippery, but as a full card-carrying member of the tedious liberal media elite, my life is in fact festooned with perfectly sane human beings who’d need smelling salts and emergency CBT if suddenly forced to administer their brood on £7,000 per month after tax.

And while I do not know Johnston’s specific circumstances, I do know that in the lands of the leafy street-dwelling elite £7,000 is, roughly speaking, a couple of mortgage payments (the other home being both an investment and summer retreat for the children), a set of school fees (because the local comp is just not performing), some nice dinners supplied by Ocado and Abel and Cole (ethical and healthy!) plus a fairly “cheap” five-person family ski holiday in April. Gosh, where are we up to now – £5,000 perhaps? Then of course, there are life insurances and private medical payments, so in the event the worst might happen – death, injury, illness – things will, of course, still be shitty, but certainly not as shitty as they would be for Brian in Bradford.

And this hasn’t even touched upon life’s tedious daily curveballs: the broken fridge, the hissing boiler, the unreliable condom. Working-class people are pile-driven from birth with the notion “Money will not make you happy”, but this is balderdash purported mainly to stop them asking for it.

The solid, irrefutable truth is that money will make all daily minutiae of life much, much easier and that’s why Boris Johnson and thousands of his wage bracket guard their status like lions and always, always need just a bit more.

Johnson and his wage bracket do not grizzle for more money in order to live like His Highness King Salman, to shut off Vallauris Golfe-Juan beach for the summer and buy up chateaus and multimillion-pound yachts. No, they have merely become accustomed to never setting foot in Lidl, never waiting seven days for an NHS GP, never being intimidated on the night bus and never feeling fretful when the gas bill arrives.

Musical, Boris Johnson-themed protest ahead of Tory Party conference

They do not lie in bed worrying that their kids may inherit nothing aside from a funeral bill. They never feel sad no one in the family has a home big enough to host Christmas. They never need to answer any family questions with a definitive “No, that’s impossible”. Because when you have a bit of money, things are possible. If not this month, maybe next.

From time to time, some well-meaning, jelly-elbowed middle class grizzler will take to a broadsheet problem page crying that their family’s £150,000 per annum goes “nowhere”, only to find their letter go viral as millions of Twitter users angrily scream how they’d never feel skint on this grotesque monthly income. But part of me knows that anyone harrumphing that they’d never make the same mistake as Shona from St Albans who can’t afford two mortgages, Pizza Express for her kids on Fridays and ballet lessons is indulging in some blue-sky thinking.

Because modern life in the United Kingdom has never, ever been more two-tier and polarised. Once you have experienced the smoothness of a life like the family Johnson, living any other way is simply unthinkable. It’s a pity Brian in Bradford will never, ever feel this comfort.

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