A Sassenach Soliloquy

Monday, August 30

There's always someone in a faster car

Last autumn, shortly after I started this blog, I entered the Guardian’s Blog competition. I didn’t win (you’d have known about it if I did). Belle De Jour did.

You may have heard of Belle De Jour. She is a high-class London prostitute, whose tales have earnt her a large online following, a book deal, and, if a recent entry is anything to go by, a film may follow. She has been writing her blog as long as I have been writing mine: a little less than one year.

She can write, no doubt, but no better than many of us. What she does have that is different, however, is a story, and a door into a world that fascinates many. And, presumably, a fine figure.

This generates feelings in me that I’m not proud of: envy. Not furious, rebel-against-the-system anger or anything approaching it, but certainly a bitterness that what differentiates her success from my imminent poverty is simply her body: no doubt she will not be short of cash, if she isn’t already. Meanwhile I’m gambling all my savings to live in poverty and self-fund a year at University.

You might be screaming one of several replies at the screen right now: “But she’s a whore! She shags strangers for a living! She has no dignity!” or “But money isn’t important; you’re doing what you want to do” or maybe “You’re not unlucky yourself, y’know, simply being able to fund that year”. There are several variations on those themes. And they’re all right, but - and this is the point - that doesn’t, if one is honest, mean one doesn’t experience negative emotions when faced with somebody with more luck than oneself. I can see that, and thus hate the fact that I feel as I do.

What is resentful is something that sections of humanity have grappled with for eons: somebody else's qualities being better rewarded than one's own, financially at least. (I recognise that my case is trivial in comparison to many (most) others, but that doesn't negate how I feel.) You can reply that my intellectual stimulation is a greater professional reward, but we are all different, and she clearly enjoys her job. I may feel that there are fewer things better than a true lightbulb-over-the-head, jump-out-of-the-bath-in-excitement-and-wonder moment, but she could quite easily reply that, as far she’s concerned, there’s nowt better than giving a man an orgasm. And it’d be hard to argue. So, if she is stimulated (no pun intended) by her profession, and me by mine, and we are both talented in our chosen fields, why should she be better financially rewarded than me? Especially given that I would put that money to purposeful use.

Of course, she’s by far the only person I can ask that question about: there are countless talentless nobodys in the public eye (and elsewhere) earning healthy incomes; enough, in some instances, to mean they’ll never have to worry about money again. But with each of those individuals I can, as we all do, character assassinate them in my own mind if I wish, and thus easily comfort myself that I don’t want their lot. But, crucially, I can’t do that with Belle De Jour: it's clever marketing to choose, when word of her blog started to hit the mainstream, to remain anonymous and hence retain control of her own publicity. She is wholly in control of what we know about her.

Enough. I write about this not because it keeps me up at night or that I feel particularly angry about it, but because it helps me understand what bitterness feels like as an adult. I’m lucky - as anybody reading this is - to live in the historical environs that I do, and even in that context I’m still amongst the luckiest. But some are luckier. As the Beautiful South (and many others have expressed in similar ways) once said: “There’s always someone in a faster car”.


Post a Comment

<< Home