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This is a question Conspicuous Consumption

Have you ever been photographed sat on a balcony eating a croissant; or wallowed in luxury just for the sake of it? What's the most ostentatious thing you ever seen or done?

(, Thu 28 Jul 2011, 13:18)
Pages: Popular, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

This question is now closed.

A lost world
I've always been a massive aeroplane nut. I grew up in Somerset, not far from near HMS Heron, the headquarters of naval aviation. The annual air show there was a regular family treat. This was during the cold war so there was a sense that there was some real menace behind the crowd-pleasing stunts. My favourite plane at the show wasn't military though, it was the Concorde. For a piece of machinery she was genuinely beautiful: an aerial E-Type, an aluminium swan. As an aeroplane she was the very definition of power. The pilots would make a low pass over the show crowd, wheels down, flaps out and nose up to increase the drag and help her fly slowly. The engines - four Rolls Royce Olympus 593s with afterburners - put out such an incredible amount of noise that my hearing completely overloaded. All I could hear was a deafening crackle, like God frying the atmosphere.

I had a little model Concorde of course, and posters, and I wrote to BA and they sent me all kinds of promotional guff. As I grew older I realised just how unlikely it was I'd ever fly on her. She'd fly over our house sometimes; you could hear her on a quiet day from our garden from 30,000' away. Here was machine and romance and lifestyle bought in a perfectly unattainable white bird, forever out of reach but still ours, still British; something to take pride in.

Then one day in 2003 I was reading the BBC news website in my office in Manhattan. I saw the story: BA to cease Concorde flights. 9/11, the Paris crash and the lousy economy had finally done for her. I read on and discovered that they were issuing a very, very limited run of discounted tickets to ensure that her final few flights were full and she could go out in style. So I rang up and bought one. My ship had come in that month: a distant Aunt had died and left me a couple of grand and I'd just received a decent tax refund from George W. Bush. I had been planning to save the money but it was just enough for a one way flight. I had no kids, no significant other of any importance, no debts and no reason not to fulfil a childhood dream.

I was hugely excited leading up to my flight. I'd planned my trip so that I'd fly to London in economy on Friday and take the Concorde back on the Monday. I'd see friends and family over the weekend. Due to the jet stream the flight was about 45 minutes longer going West and I wanted my money's worth. The flight was at 6pm but I turned up to Heathrow at lunchtime. I checked in at the special Concorde desk in T4 that I'd caught glimpses of on previous trips through the airport; it was behind a big wooden wall and it was another world for me. Through security (same, but no queue) and into the dedicated Concorde lounge. The lounge was the gate itself, so once I was there I was set until boarding.

The lounge itself was a luxury hotel, minus the bedroom. I enjoyed a back massage from a chubby, bubbly blonde in the spa downstairs, had a shower in a huge blue room with about fifty water jets and got my clothes pressed. Once done with that, I headed back upstairs in time to see the aircraft pull up to the jetbridge and the arriving passengers walk out through our lounge. I dined on lobster and vintage champagne - a 1985 Pommery Cuvée Louise, for anyone that cares - and when I told the lounge attendant how much I was enjoying the bubbly she insisted on opening another, even rarer bottle to try. I met some interesting people there; some BA staff taking advantage of the same tickets I was on, a French bigwig from Louis Vuitton who thought that English men were the most stylish in Europe and a university professor whose specialty completely escapes me.

Time was passing and it was nearly time to board. The captain came out to meet each passenger, shake their hands and have a chat with them. Apparently they did this on every single flight. Ours was completely full, but all that meant was that the captain came out twenty minutes earlier. He knew some of the regular passengers by name. Not me, of course, but he was happy to answer my inane and slightly tipsy questions. At this point I noticed that everyone around me had dressed for the occasion. I hadn't; I was 22 and really not all that clued up. I'd turned up in (nice) jeans and a T-shirt - one of the few I owned that didn't have holes but hardly comparing to the suits that every other man was wearing.

The plane itself was very small inside. The seats were very comfortable, but very close together; a bit more legroom than economy class and a fair bit more width, but not the giant armchair you might have expected. The roof was lower than a 737, the windows were no bigger than my passport and the aisle was very narrow. There were only 25 rows of four seats (two each side of the aisle) in the whole aircraft, just one class (of course) and two cabins. I was in the back cabin over the wing. We were looked after by a small army of pretty, middle-aged attendants. They were keen on having as much fun as we all were and created a lot of the party atmosphere on the plane.

The captain announced push-back with what I learned was the usual announcement: "We're number one for takeoff, as usual. Those of you who haven't experienced a Concorde take-off before are in for a treat. We go twice as fast on the ground as anything else that flies and we accelerate twice as quickly. Enjoy the flight!" The engines started. Deafening! The roar inside the cabin was indescribable; unlike the ususal high-bypass ratio turbofans on passenger jets the Olympus engines are pure turbojets. There is no 'collar' of low-speed air surrounding the high-speed, hot exhaust from the compressor; it's this that makes modern jets comparatively quiet. We pushed back quickly and bounced down the taxiway straight to the runway. No delay, no waiting for Easyjet 123 to Malaga to clear the runway - that three mile strip of concrete was there just for us.

The captain lined the plane up and opened the taps. He wasn't kidding about the acceleration: it's not like a normal plane. It's severe - you're really pushed back in your seat - and it's relentless. We thundered down the runway at over 200mph, climbed and we were *still* accelerating. The rate of climb was incredible too: a readout on the cabin bulkhead listed our speed and altitude, and the numbers were flying by at an unreal rate. It's a while ago now, but I distinctly remember hitting 30,000 feet in less than five minutes! On a normal plane that 'bing' that sounds about 10 minutes after takeoff, when the cabin crew get up? That's 10,000 feet. We were three times higher than that before most airliners have finished turning to point in the right direction. This was deeply impressive stuff to a plane nerd like me.

A few minutes later we're over the Bristol Channel and the captain comes back on. "Well, we're making excellent progress and now we've cleared the south of England we can go supersonic. You'll feel two pushes as I turn the afterburners on in pairs. Keep an eye on the speed readout in the cabin, and I'll talk to you again in New York. Enjoy the service."

Another mighty shove in the back as, some way behind and below me, pumps dumped thousands of gallons of raw aviation fuel into the engines' exhausts. The fuel instantly ignited, creating a huge rocket and sending a jet of flame out from behind each engine. Fighter jets use afterburners to take off from aircraft carriers, or chase down enemy planes; here I was sipping (gulping) more champange and eating smoked salmon on toast (service started at 10,000 feet as usual - about a minute after takeoff - and continued right up until landing) while riding something who's power and climb rate are exceeded only by the space shuttle.

I ate and drank up through 60,000', twice the height of a normal flight, where the sky was black overhead and I could see the curvature of the earth by scanning the horizon with my eyes. The windows got extremely hot as the fuel - used for cooling the plane - was burned off. I chatted with my fellow passengers, sadly not managing to grab an autograph from Ray Liotta who was sitting five rows *behind* me. The good times continued. The attendants told me it was always like this; calmer when there were fewer passengers, but always a party. I was surprised - I'd expected a quiet, rarified, even stuffy atmosphere, like a gentleman's club or fancy hotel lobby, but it wasn't. It was all about fun. The captain's announcements, the laughing, smiling attendants, the jokes, the lake of vintage champagne and six courses of fine food, the buzz - it had more in common with an Club Med charter flight than first class travel. Utterly brilliant and worth every last penny.
(, Mon 1 Aug 2011, 22:52, 31 replies)
Some years ago I was skint.
Not skint as in ‘I can’t go out til I get paid on Friday’, properly flat broke with no idea of where my next meal was coming from and too proud to ask for help.
Sat in a cold house, terrible hunger pain and even worse nicotine craving I was bouncing off the walls. I decided to have a bit of a clear out and under the bed I found and found a five year old brown envelope. I looked in it and nearly fainted. A twenty pound note! A fucking twenty fucking pound fucking note in my hands. I was trembling, then I started screaming and jumping around the room. Twenty fucking pounds! I got some credits to heat the house, food & fags and invited a friend round for the chicken curry blowout. Sitting that evening in the kitchen with my mate, warm, full and slightly fuzzy from the booze he’d brought, knowing there was enough pasta and rice in the cupboard to keep me going for a few days is something I’ll never forget.

There’s no extravagance I can think of that will ever match that 20 pounds.
(, Fri 29 Jul 2011, 14:23, 7 replies)
Yes I have been photographed on a balcony eating a croissant as it happens...

On honeymoon on the Emerald Coast of Sardinia.
(, Sat 30 Jul 2011, 12:09, 11 replies)
This literally just popped into my head
And has bought me to a juddering stand still with the realisation of what an annoying little prat I must have been.

I guess I would have been, maybe, 8 years old. 9 possibly. I had a big parka jacket, the fluffy hood, orange lining, army green type. It had, if I remember, an arm pocket that had both a button down top and a zip up the length of it, as well as slots for two pens. We'll consider that to be four pockets (this will be important later - god I wish it wouldn't, but it will). It had two 'high' pockets on the front, (the ones that I have never really found a useful purpose for and that if you put your hands in them you look like you are doing a convincing pisstake of a thalidamide victim) and one of those had a smaller 'sub pocket' on top of it. So that's 7. it had two deep pockets at the outside bottom of the coat (we're up to 9 now). One high inside pocket on the left and another on the right AND one deep inside pocket on the bottom right. (12). And then there were my jeans. Anyone of a similar age may remember 'pocket jeans'. They had the usuall assortment of two front, two back and one watch pocket. (17 pockets now). Then they had the 'exrtas', And my pair had one on each thigh and one on the left calf. So now I am up to 20 pockets. But no, that's not enough for me. oh no, I also had one of those 'varsity' type cardigans, that had a pocket on each side too. I had a grand total of 22 pockets.

Why? Because...oh god, the shame...why didn't my parents take one look at me and say 'you fucking twat'...I was so desperate to get a nickname...I thought people might start to call me 'Pockets'.

They didn't.

So I tried a new tack. I filled the pockets. I carried anything i thought someone else might find useful and a lot that they never would. I filled them with scissors and matches and needle and thread. Various knives - Swiss Army, lock, flick and pen. Hankies and tissues and cotton wool and Q-tips. Coins and screws and nuts and bolts and magnets and mini screwdrivers and a toffee hammer. Sweets and chocolate and football stickers and diaries and address books. Analogue AND digitl watches and a calculator. A magnifying glass and a compass and a map. Pens and pencils and rulers and pencil sharpeners and erasers. Because, you know, one day, someone might need something and I'd reach in and lo...'pockets to the rescue'...I lived in the hope that after a while, it would become second nature and people would say things like 'I want to scrape the bark of that twig but I haven't got a knife. I better ask Pockets'.

No one ever asked pockets.
(, Thu 28 Jul 2011, 17:38, 25 replies)
piracy at sea
I used to work as a photographer on a cruiseliner. The job was equally great and shit. Get to see the world and get paid but you would work 14 hours a day everyday taking pictures of people who would talk to you like you were vermin.
Another down side of being away from home for 6 months at a time was missing out on modern cinema. The ship had a cinema but would only show family friendly gear that was, on the whole, real shit crap and at least a year old.
One day one of the on board entertainers came aboard with a pirate copy of The Dark Knight. having been at sea while it was released and reading on myspace (christ) all the glorious reviews of it from friends was a major pain in the bum. so to have this pirate copy doing the rounds on the ship was glorious.
so here comes the decadence; my fellow photographers and I hatched a plan of daring luxury. our department had a set of keys to the captains private lounge so as we could occasionally get in to set up lights in the event of a crew awards ceremony. so the night we were given a shot of the pirate Dark Knight we let ourselves in to the captains lounge. we made oaths we would leave no sign of our invasion but within ten minutes of access we had cracked open bottles of champers intended for the captain and officers only and repositioned all the suites to face onto the ginormous flat screen TV. we were in heaven. the lounge is hidden within the depths of the ship so we could blast the sound as loud as we like without concern.
somewhere around the scene where maggie gylenhall has been blown to smithereens we are all sat on the edge of the leather couches, half blazing, empty bottles of champagne strewn around when we hear the sound of the lounge door being unlocked. quick glances of ultra dread are exchanged. this means disembarkation for sure. I pray silently for someone who is not either an officer or security.
the second in charge of security, Sunnil, sticks his head round the door. this is it. we are fucking doomed. he stares at us in silence. we know we are fucked. Drinking to the point of being drunk is a sackable offence on the ship never mind gate crashing the captains sanctuary and treating it as your personal playground.
"is that the new batman film?" he asks in his indian accent.
"....yes" one of us says
"fantastic!" he says as he nudges up on the couch and makes himself comfy "pass that champagne"
(, Tue 2 Aug 2011, 11:48, 4 replies)
A couple of pikeys going large
Last March I got made redundant from my marketing job in a pretty big insurance company. They were utter shits about it and employed every loophole in the book to ensure that I got sent on my way with about two pound fifty to my name. A couple of weeks into unemployment and I was feeling like utter shite, i'd had to move out of my houseshare that I loved with three other girls and move into my 16 year old stepsister's bedroom, sleeping on a blow up bed. I was NOT having a good time. My boyfriend was working for a large holiday company, red branded, owned by a bloke that owns an island, you know, that one, and one night rings me up and tells me to pack a case. Turns out he'd won a holiday to Jamaica, a Sandals one no less.

So we turn up in a Sandals resort, me unemployed and completely skint, him, not much more money, and stayed in the honeymoon suite, with butler service and a whirlpool bath and a fully stocked bar. It was incredible. Totally the best pick me up you could ask for after a proper shit month or so.

It got better though, on the day we were supposed to leave, we got told there was a pesky little ash cloud stopping our flight home. As my boyfriend was staff for this particlarly large company, we got flown to MI-FUCKING-AMI to go and 'help allocate passengers' ready for their flights home. This entailed staying a hotel, paid for, on South Beach for TWO WEEKS after our already amazing week in Jamaica and putting everything on company expenses.

Our flight home was full se we got put in Upper Class on the way back.

The best period of unemployment i've experienced, certainly.
(, Fri 29 Jul 2011, 14:55, 12 replies)
Staying in an outrageously expensive hotel for the first time in my life.
My girlfriend went out shopping, and got back to find me wallowing in the spa bath topped by more than a foot of bubbles, reading The Economist, whilst smoking a cigar and wearing a monocle*.

She looked at me with disbelief.
"What the hell are you doing?", she asked.
"This is what capitalism is all about", I replied.

*This is completely true.
(, Fri 29 Jul 2011, 10:53, 8 replies)
Roasting peas on an open fire:
So, fresh out of university, I was temping for the Department of Industry, doing general office admin.

Our unit was coordinating a million pound government grant to develop a green, sustainable form of transport for London and the UK.

One of my jobs was to print out, envelope and send the rejection letters - standard letter personally addressed using a mail-merge.

One chap, however, took great umbrage to the rejection, and looking over his file I'm not surprised.

The entries ranged from someone drawing a kite tied to a cart with a sign saying "Green" on it, to designed models, and then this chap's entry, which was a hundred-page study that cost him personally tens of thousands of pounds in the commission of research and materials.

The contact number on the rejection letter was the 'phone at my desk, and a few days later I was called, and the chap on the other end swore and ranted and cajoled, pleaded, begged and then threatened to get me fired over this.

I reported back to my manager, who told me to ignore it, but sure enough round two came, so I said simply "Listen, the matter's out of my hands, I'm sorry I can't help, but that's the way it is."

He went quiet, then apologised sincerely, and rang off.

Three days later, a handwritten letter arrives addressed to me personally, in which the author apologised for his handwriting (his blasted printer is broken at the moment, but rest assured he is investing in a new one!), and also for ranting and raving at me so rudely - he's passionate about the project as it's close to his heart, but that's no excuse for his behaviour.

By way of apology, he enquired, he wondered if I would be so kind as to allow him to buy me lunch at his club, say - next Friday?

I read it.

I re-read it.

I put it in my pocket and kept my gob shut.

I composed a return letter saying that I'd be delighted to join him for lunch next Friday - how kind.

Next Friday came, and I turned up in my cheap whistle to a quiet street in Pimlico.

I find the address - it's lidderally just two massive oak doors and nothing else.

I knock.

I am greeted by a butler.

I am shewn through to the oak-pannelled, gleaming tap'd, classic and detailed, Art Deco bar. This place is straight out of James Bond, Yes Minister, Dickens - all of that. It actually IS the archetypal London Gentleman's club, and not in the rude way.

"Sir, Mr. X sends his sincere apologies, but he is currently running over on a meeting, and will be approximately five minutes late. Can I get Sir anything from the bar at all, and perhaps a paper?"

I order a water - I've got £10 in my wallet and it looks like if I order a beer they'll want a kidney and the rights to my first-born.

Mr X turns up - for one so strong of voice he's an old guy, bordering on the doddery.

"Ah, Mr Vagabond - how good to meet you!" he beams. "I take it you are being attended to in a decent enough manner?"

He's absolutely charming and I feel like the fraud I am. I want to tell him I'm just a temp, there's nothing I can do, and that he'd be far better off taking the head of the department out, as she's got serious leverage. He's a lovely old man, who's done well for himself, and he's just trying to do the good thing, I understand that - he's no saint; just a sinner, and just wants to make the world a little bit better.

But fuck that - I'm poor, young and hungry, he's rich, fat and old.

We're led through to the dining room, which is as you'd expect - full of suits discussing Important Matters, and as we are led to his table by the window, he nods to a few of them, muttering to me that he's the ambassador for Hong Kong, he's the owner of Saatchi's account handlers, that's the Minister Without Portfolio, etc etc.

The menu - of course - has no prices on, and he heartily recommends the fish - it's the best this side of Russia.

We drink - of course - a bottle of the correct wine with each course.

Over lunch he continues to try and butter me up, detailing his plans for the project, and how he's going to seek finance elsewhere, but that the government really could do well out of this on the PR front. I listen attentively, nod encouragingly, and, using my scant knowledge of industry from my GCSE Geography, occasionally drop in a choice phrase or two, such as "Renewable energy resources as part of the GDP". It works.

We retire to the smoking room for coffee and liqueurs at around 2-30, and I stagger back into the office at about 4-30, pissed out of my skull, and am fired on the spot.

Totally worth it.
(, Thu 28 Jul 2011, 14:17, 8 replies)
I once looked after a chap who'd just returned from a trip to Russia..
..suffering from a persistent cough, weight loss , breathlessness, a roaring temperature, shadowing of the lungs on chest x-ray and pronounced fatigue.

Most obvious case of Tuberculosis ever.
(, Thu 28 Jul 2011, 13:39, 6 replies)
Honour amongst thieves
It’s a little known fact that there is a code of honour amongst jailed criminals; a code which, although not formally acknowledged, prevails in prisons around the world. The code recognizes behaviour perceived as brave, courageous, and honourable within the world of the convict and rewards such behaviour with gifts, respect and other acts. Standing up for the rights of another prisoner, refusing to be bowed by debasing or inhuman punishment: such things are the subjects of the code, and stories of prisoners prevailing against prison guards are legion.

Some years ago this code was unexpectedly brought into the open when the international journal of prison officers – Gaolers Today – ran a competition to identify acts of honour within the worldwide prison community. Although aimed at prison officers, such magazines circulate freely within many jails and are the subject of some fascination by prisoners. Consequently a large number of phone votes were cast by convicts.

Amongst the acts cited were tales of convicts defending weaker prisoners or jailers against unprovoked attack, convicts protesting against conditions in older, crowded jails, and convicts accepting punishments on behalf of others.

The story which received the largest number of votes was of a convicted murderer in an Alabama prison who was instructed to clean out a drainage sump as punishment for damaging prison property. The sump was filled with a years-old fetid mixture of rotting rubbish and mud, and overrun with rats. Despite being threatened with ever-worsening punishments the prisoner refused to get into the sump without breathing apparatus, proper protective clothing and safety procedures being in place. He ended up in solitary confinement for several months rather than accept the punishment. All convicts have access to a jail lawyer, and the convict in question complained. Working in the sump without protective equipment was clearly in breach of numerous health and safety laws, and the case eventually lead to the prison guard involved being sacked, exposing a pattern of abusive behaviour amongst staff, and ultimately improving conditions in the prison for all other prisoners.

It was clear to the editor of Gaolers Today that the outcome of the vote had been swung by the votes of prisoners themselves and eventually the competition was cancelled. However the journal reported the events under the headline “Cons pick US con’s sump shun.”
(, Mon 1 Aug 2011, 10:58, 7 replies)
It was sunset
and I was sat on a stunning beach - Anse Source D’Argent in the Seychelles, with a bottle of pink champagne to one side of me.

It was here that I had the best blow job of my life.

Although, I did put my back out and haven't been able to give myself one since.

Happy times.
(, Thu 28 Jul 2011, 14:15, 4 replies)
I've had a pretty unlucky couple of years consisting of illness, lack of work, having to decide whether I should spend my money on my rent or my food, family troubles and having to cope with all the stress and depression that comes with this.
But through this time I have had one thing that has kept me going because it is actually the best thing anyone could wish for, and that is a happy relationship.
In fact, it's not just a happy relationship but one that is so awesome that it takes a lot of effort not to shove my smugness in everyone else’s faces. We are so deeply in love that if it were to be represented as a picture it would make people throw up from the sheer power of it. We are so unbelievably happy together that when I hear other supposedly "happy" couples complaining about their loved ones, it makes me feel all warm inside that no one else is as content as we are.
I don't have a lot and this is why I've decided to rub my awesome love in your faces and say "ner" because you might have money and cars and fancy fur coats but I've got a soul mate.

So there.
(, Fri 29 Jul 2011, 11:18, 11 replies)
Beer Festival Shenanigans
2008. I was at the Cotswold Beer Festival (which is this weekend again, anyone going?) with my b3tan ex-flatmate icezebra. My usual strategy with this particular event is to volunteer to work for the lunch session so that I am guaranteed a ticket for the evening. While this sounds very community minded it really means I turn up at about 11am, check in as a staff member (i.e. jump the queue) and start drinking as soon as I get allocated to a bar area. After three hours of "work" there was a pause before the evening session, during which I made the little trip into Winchcombe for a momentum-maintaining half, or six, before our triumphant return to the festival for another five hours of balls-out ale-pounding. Erm, I mean "civilised quaffing in the sunshine". Meh, who am I kidding?

At any rate, by the time 11pm rolled around, we were, well, rolling around. On the half mile walk back to the car park (which took about an hour) icezebra stole my last pint so of course, forgetting I was in shorts, I wrestled him into a nettle-filled ditch.

And so it was that, sweaty, beery and with vegetation sticking out of our scruffy clothes, we arrived at the pickup area above the campsite. Every so often a Cavalier would show up and somebody's long-suffering wife or Mum would collect another gang of drunken yahoos, plaintively asking as politely as they could if the still-brimming "last" pint could possibly stay behind.

As we approached I can recall people were animatedly talking about a Bentley they'd seen parked up - nobody had spotted anyone who looked posh enough to be a famous millionaire at the festival. And it was not surprising, for the car was not there for Richard Branson but rather me, and my equally ungentlemanly acquaintance.

Yes, I paid £6 for a beer festival ticket and then the thick end of £80 for a cab that just happened to be "Lord" Alan Sugar's old castoff (it still had the 1980's car phone in the rear armrest) purely for that golden moment when, t-shirt and shorted, I elbowed the astonished proles out of the way and sped off in luxurious comfort, waving like a pissed version of the Queen.

Worth every penny.
(, Thu 28 Jul 2011, 14:07, 4 replies)
I guess I was about 10, which would have made my brother 7.
I don't know why, but I was desperate to own a towelling wrist band. Preferably florescent yellow. It was an obsession, I thought I'd be the coolest kid in school. Eventually the constant whining got too much for my Nan, who gave me a five pound note and said I could treat myself and my brother to one. I ran off with him to Ted Fenton's or whatever the 1984 equivalent of JD Sports was called and found, to my delight, that five pounds was a veritable fortune. I could afford four pairs of wrist bands in Yellow, Blue, Green and Orange AND two towelling head bands. I was positovely overwhelmed. I handed over my money with shaking hands and took my carrier bag of booty outside where I tore open the packages, I put a yellow band on my right wrist, a green on my left, then a blue on my right and the orange on my left. Then I gave the others to my brother to do the same. I put a white headband on him and, finally, trembling with pride, I put the other one on me.

I was the dog's bollocks, I was cooler than school. Between us we were the it boys of Laindon. I walked chest forward, brother by my side, proudly back to where Nan was waiting by the swings. We strode into the play area.

And the big boys pissed themselves laughing.

And I cried.

I never wore them again.
(, Thu 28 Jul 2011, 14:03, 3 replies)
To go instantly off topic (sorry)
I think i saw the ultimate in reverse ostentation in delightful, lovely Basildon town centre, when there was a woman, fag burning in one hand, glass of red wine sloshing round in the other, leaning over her babies pram outside Weatherspoon's in a T-Shirt proudly stating 'Who The Fuck Is Prada?'. At 11.30 in the morning.

Given her clearly alcoholic tendencies and the Essex fascination with appalling children names, I couldn't help but think that 'Prada' may well be the name of the child in the pram and that the bit of the shirt I couldn't see actually said '...'s Dad?'
(, Thu 28 Jul 2011, 13:30, 4 replies)

I remember after sleeping rough for about a year ( posted about on a previous QOTW) the great thing was when i got back into normal living again even the most simple things felt like ostentatious luxury. I can't describe the feeling of waking up in warm bed or just enjoying a cup of tea in a quiet room during those first few days.

there's a line from a JP Donleavy book ("the lady who liked clean restrooms" I think ) which has always stuck in my head and it's a scene where the titular heroine is just sitting in a cafe sipping a coffee and she thinks how perfect life would be if she could just take pleasure and be content with the simple things in life. How bloody true. And if anybody manages this buddha like state could you please teach me how to do it
(, Fri 29 Jul 2011, 8:24, 6 replies)
I once bought a pint of beer...
...in Norway.
(, Thu 28 Jul 2011, 15:43, 23 replies)
Colour indicator
I have my butler see if my bath is hot enough by tossing a live lobster in there.

It should end up a purplish colour - not a true orange, more of an "amber queen".

If it's too far either way I make him drain the bath and begin again.

We burn the lobsers.
(, Thu 28 Jul 2011, 13:46, Reply)
A rather well to do lady came into my mother in law's deli during the cold snap at the start of the year.
She bought every packet of Halen Môn and Maldon sea salt. When asked why she was buying enough high end salt to give a small African nation heart problems she replied "To melt the ice on my front steps".
(, Sat 30 Jul 2011, 21:26, 4 replies)
I light my cigars using a burning £50 note that I've lit from a burning £20 note that I've lit from a burning £10 that I've lit from setting light to a £5.
And I don't even smoke.
(, Fri 29 Jul 2011, 9:31, 5 replies)
I decided to splurge
on a couple of Middle Eastern wars. Well, I didn't decide. But I did pay for it.
(, Wed 3 Aug 2011, 18:43, 71 replies)
I am a man of very little ambition and even less achievement. I am also an inveterate miser, and so my pitiful earnings tend to form a nice pile of savings in short order. Mostly this has been heading towards a deposit for a place of my own, but I have made an indulgence.

I am fairly passionate about music, and I have always appreciated great sound reproduction and have fussy ears that are irked by crappy equipment. I know my stuff, and I've counselled wealthier friends to audio nirvana, and then sat listening to their amazing systems in a slightly confused state of happiness and raw envy.

Having lived in South Africa for most of my life and having pitiful African currency mocking my dreams of hearing my carefully assembled CD collection in all its glory, I moved to Australia and every day on the way back to my room in a sharehouse, I'd pass the local high-end audio shop. Torture.

This year, after about 20 years of unconsummated lust and saving, I sprung for it.

I got myself a Squeezebox Touch, a NAD T747 receiver and Hsu Research Ultra speakers and subwoofer setup, with all centre channel speakers at the front. I ordered the speakers from the manufacturer in America, who consulted with me about my selection and rotated the speaker horns to suit my setup. No PayPal or anything like that, so I went to the bank one Saturday afternoon and organised a transfer.

The day the speakers arrived, my landlord (who signed the papers) texted me to ask if I was mad. There was an absolute mountain of boxes in my hallway, including 40kgs of subwoofer in a box the size of a small fridge. Unpacking them before my girlfriend got home was a kind of kid-at-Christmas moment. Just figuring out how to get something as heavy as a 15" sub out of the box was a challenge (luckily there were instructions). I'd clipped and terminated wiring in advance, so plugging in was a formality.

Am I happy with it? Oh, fuck me, yes. There's a special thrill in owning equipment that you can't even remotely strain without doing your ears in. And this stuff isn't just loud, it's detailed, revealing so much that I'm hearing new things in tracks I've heard hundreds of times on decent headphones and movies on Blu-ray sound much, much better than the cinema. When I sit in the sweetspot, my favourite artists are right in the room with me. And games? So, so good.

Don't settle for iPods.
(, Sat 30 Jul 2011, 3:55, 10 replies)
I got lucky with my timing when I graduated as a young geologist
I had a shit degree, 6 years to finish a 3 year course, scraping by on 120 dollars a week from the government. But the industry was going through one of it's periodic upturns and there were jobs a-plenty. I had already settled on one job when I got an offer from another that I had no intention of taking. But, they were going to fly me to Perth for the interview and put me up at the hilton hotel. So I flew out there and immediately rang up a few hundred bucks on roomservice ordering bloody marys and bellinis. I even used the corby trouser press. the day of the interview on the top floor of the hotel, I passed a huge buffet table, so loaded my plate up with smoked salmon, carpaccio, and watermelon until it was like the mashed potato plate from Close Encounters. I spent the interview talking through a full mouth-full of food "gomph, gomph, yessh, it schertainy sheems like a interweshting proposal...sorry, that wassh my fault...here, I'll wipe it off for you"
(, Thu 28 Jul 2011, 14:02, 1 reply)
I went through three months of hell last winter
tearing my new house to pieces to make a super massive kitchen. because i like sitting in the kitchen and having a beer. I am so fucking smug about it that the cupboards are full to bursting point with croissants.

This is the view from inside the kitchen during the snow

and this is it now. tonight i will have the doors open, sit on the sofa and do a bit of grinning. mainly because i'm now utterly crippled by debt and can't afford to do anything else.

(, Wed 3 Aug 2011, 16:13, 11 replies)
Not so ostentatious after all
I was having dinner with my parents a few months back, and they'd dug a bottle of 2005 Shiraz out of the wine cupboard to go with it. Neither of them could remember where it had come from, and they decided it must have been a gift to my dad when he retired. It turned out to be an excellent wine, and after dinner my mum decided to look it up on the internet and see how much a bottle was going for these days. A few minutes later, she ran back into the room shouting "I found it on eBay, and it's selling for $467 a bottle!". My dad and I were duly impressed, and she went off to post on Facebook and tell all her friends about our guzzling of expensive wine.

Later that evening, I idly googled the wine and found the eBay listing, and indeed, the price was $467. Sadly for my mum's bragging, however, it seemed she had overlooked the part where it mentioned that said price was for a case of 12 bottles...
(, Sat 30 Jul 2011, 5:37, 3 replies)
Sinking, drinking and swimming in the pink...
Not me, but my father.

Many moons ago, my father used to be fairly senior in the Banking world. When I say fairly senior, he ended up as the General Manager of an Offshore Private Bank - for those of you who don't know, that's essentially an old-fashioned Bank Manager, i.e. the chappie in charge of the particular branch.

As such, he often found himself being invited to many corporate shindigs. I work in finance now and pride myself on being invited to a whole host of different CorpHosp events and chugging my way through a decent amount of champagne and canape's, however back in the day when real expense accounts were prevalent, the realities were a little different.

Dad ended up being invited to Royal Ascot in the late 70's with a couple of other senior bods from the bank. Jersey tended to be a little different from the rest of the corporate world back then - housing regulations were very tight (and still are) which meant that there was a lot of rapid promotion from within - Dad was in his mid-30's and very much up for a laugh. For laugh, read drink.

As is normal at Ascot, everyone went the whole nine yards. Morning suits for the gents, big hats for the ladies. Dad was, and indeed is, 6'5", so with full tails and top-hat, he cut a rather dashing figure.

He was attending with one of his best friends and they, unsurprisingly, ended up with a few drinks inside of them. When the time came for the last race of the afternoon, neither of them were particularly interested in it, far more interesting was the free bar with rather pretty barmaids (he was at this time between marriages).

One thing led to another, and he and his friend ended up calling a taxi to take them back to the hotel with a couple of the afore-mentioned buxom wenches. Also accompanying them was - literally - as much pink champagne as four people could carry. I have mentioned that my father is not a small person - he can carry a prodigious load at the worst of times - when it comes to carrying alcohol (especially pink, bubbly alcohol), Sampson would have been put to shame.

They had already drunk as much champagne as they could manage before leaving, but free champagne is far too hard to resist. They ended up back in their hotel suite wondering what to do with a huge amount of bubbly, so they did the only sensible thing possible.

This is how my father, the legend that is my father, ended up sitting in a spa-bath in his hotel suite with one of his best friends and two newly acquired fillies from Ascot BATHING IN PINK FREAKING CHAMPAGNE.

If that's not wallowing in luxury, I have no idea what is.
(, Fri 29 Jul 2011, 10:53, 2 replies)
No luxury is quite so splendid as drinking a nice bottle of wine whilst reading a book in the bath.
Especially if you're flatmate's hammering on the door.
(, Fri 29 Jul 2011, 9:35, 3 replies)
Requesting a downgrade
I was once flying at the very back of the plane, where the stewardesses hang out. One came back, and incredulously, told her colleagues that a first-class passenger had just requested a DOWNgrade - from first to economy!

Turns out he was flying on the company ticket, but also had friends on the same flight. So he waited until he had all the champagne and other first-class goodies, then took them with him to share with his friends for the rest of the flight.

Conspicuous consumption? Certainly. Classy? You betcha!
(, Thu 28 Jul 2011, 17:13, 1 reply)
Jimmyjam cruisin'

A few years ago my brother's rather swish job took him to California for a year. I flew over budget airline style from the UK to visit him, arriving late that evening. The next morning slightly delirious with jetlag, I insisted my brother, ready for work in his expensive European suit and designer shades, drive me around Beverly Hills for an hour in his fancy top of the range company soft-top beamer before he went to work, whilst I sat in the passenger seat attempting to look stylishly cool and nonchalant. In my Primark sunglasses and Snoopy pyjamas.
(, Thu 28 Jul 2011, 15:39, Reply)
Yes (cough)
John Keats.
(, Thu 28 Jul 2011, 13:48, 2 replies)

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