Magazine article The Spectator

Class Struggle

Magazine article The Spectator

Class Struggle

Article excerpt

Occasionally, friends of mine ask why this column is called `No life'. I'm engaged to a beautiful woman, I'm solvent and in good health and, judging from what I write in the column, I seem to have an awful lot of holidays. Shouldn't it be called `Mid life' instead? Well, in order to reassure you sceptics out there, I think it's time to let you in on a little secret. After this you'll be in no doubt about just how miserable my life is.

Believe it or not, I've never been on Concorde. Okay, that's a joke, but to my mind it's a real deprivation, not least because it looks as though I'll never get the chance to do so. Following Air France's. decision to ground its entire Concorde fleet, it's probably only a matter of time before British Airways follows suit. Supersonic air travel is one of the last, crumbling remnants of the jet set and, with its passing, that coterie of international players has almost faded from the world stage. The end of Concorde is as serious as the decommissioning of the Queen Mary or the closure of Studio 54 - it's one more nail in the coffin of the leisured class.

The way things are looking I won't ever be able to tell my grandchildren I once sat next to Joan Collins. Now I'm perfectly aware that those lucky enough to have been on Concorde claim it's not all it's cracked up to be. If I had an air-mile for every time I've been told how uncomfortable it is I'd probably have enough for a free flight by now. But this is just a bit of one-upmanship on the part of those admitted to the club, a way of differentiating themselves from the wannabes on the other side of the velvet rope. The opportunity to pour scorn on this exclusive perk is one of the privileges of flying on the silver bird.

For instance, I was recently told by a frequent flyer - a high-ranking executive of an American corporation - that if it wasn't for Concorde's speed he'd always cross the Atlantic in first class on a British Airways Boeing 747. How I'd love to be able to say that! However, it would be doubly fraudulent in my case since I've never been in first class either. The most I can boast of is having been in Upper Class on Virgin, and then only once. Usually after boarding a Virgin flight I turn right, walk past Middle Class and take my place in Working Class alongside all the other plebs. …

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