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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)
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Posh Dogs
When we were in the last year of secondary school, my friend's parents went on holiday schmoozing about the med on a cruise ship and left her and her three older sisters in charge of the two dogs and their really big, really nice house. That in itself is a really fucking stupid idea but whatever. We had some great parties in that week, and totally took advantage of their space and wealth, but my favourite bit was when Alice couldn't find any dog food. Instead of going to the shop to buy some, she fed them a jar of caviar she found in the fridge. I don't think they liked it much but they ate it anyway. It cost about £200.
(, Tue 2 Aug 2011, 13:43, Reply)
I meant to ask my wife to pass me the ketchup
But then I realised we're far too posh for tomato sauce.
(, Tue 2 Aug 2011, 12:51, 22 replies)
My boss
Has been having some work done on his house; new kitchen, bathroom etc. The kitchen tap alone cost £1600 to buy. £1600. For a fucking tap.
(, Tue 2 Aug 2011, 12:34, 14 replies)
I actually have a bit of a weird thing about eating in front of people - I'm not keen on it.

I don't mind going out for a meal with Mrs Vagabond, but I'm really not keen on spontaneous acts - "Who's hungry? Shall we go for a pizza/curry/whatever".

I understand I'm not entirely alone on this - that it's not actually that uncommon.
(, Tue 2 Aug 2011, 12:08, 6 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)

Having run out of jam & marmite my normal choices of breakfast toast topping this morning. I found a jar of lemon curd lurking in the fridge. So I liberally spread that on my toast and topped it off with some meringue pieces

lemon meringue pie toast

Classy breaky that ;)
(, Tue 2 Aug 2011, 11:25, Reply)
An entire Peking crispy duck
In one sitting. Didn't even bother with the pancakes.

This has probably got more to do with greed than anything else but what the hell.
(, Tue 2 Aug 2011, 10:39, 6 replies)
Car parking
The St James shopping centre, in Edinburgh - one day last week.

I parked for 15 minutes and it cost me £4.50.

For fuck's sake.
(, Tue 2 Aug 2011, 10:16, 6 replies)
Alone on a yacht...
I reviewed a cruise ship years ago (can't remember the name, I've done a lot of travel writing) but I do remember it was the highest rated cruise ship afloat at the time, had an open fire in the library (with a permanent staff member posted next to it oin case it needed putting out) and was filled with old Americans who toddled off to bed at about 9pm en masse.
Leaving me, in my tuxedo, the only person in the cocktail bar.
So there I am, sitting on the deck smoking a cigarette, sipping a scotch watching the waves go by while someone grills a lobster, pours melted butter over the top and brings it to my table by the railings.
Just myself, the view and about six staff with fuck all else to do but hover around bringing fresh drinks every time I gestured.
(, Tue 2 Aug 2011, 7:01, 4 replies)
I remember the last time I splashed out on my wife
Nowadays i wear a condom
(, Tue 2 Aug 2011, 3:54, 2 replies)
I really didnt think I would have anything to add to this QOTW until I remembered this
One night I met up with a couple of friends for a pub meal
This being our local, we know that the average main course for one would comfortably feed at least 3 people, 2 if they were gluttonous pigs.
Its normal that the bar staff keep hovering around to see how you are coping with the portions and will bring you a doggie bag half way through your meal if it looks like you are going to do a Mr Creosote.
6 of us once dined quite nicely thank you, on a sharing platter for 2.
So anyway this night, we got a platter for 2, for the 3 of us, and sure enough when we had had our fill, there was still a little under half left and they brought us a polystyrene tray to take the leftovers home.
Well actually 2 as we had two homes to go to.
At the next table we had some rather obviously tourists, 8 of them, loud and enthusing about their visit, they couldn't decide what they wanted, so ordered a different starter and main meal each so they could try a bit of everything.
We couldn't help but look astounded as dish after dish arrived at their table.
The bar staff actually looked like they were trying not to smirk.
For the next couple of hours this loud group got quieter and quieter as they defiantly ploughed their way through their food.
The waitress kept coming over to see if she needed to offer doggie bags but on seeing them resolutely eating just asked if everything was ok.
Grunts and nods as they chowed on, not knowing that they could take the excess home with them if they admitted defeat or simply put their cutlery down.
Seems that they may have felt that as they had paid for their food, by god they were going to eat it all or die in the process.
This was like the best of car crash TV as we watched them conspicuously consume enough food to feed a small african village for a day .
( no racism inferred or implied TM)
How we stopped ourselves from cheering as they waddled out, burping and holding distended stomachs while leaving behind almost polished clean plates is beyond me
(, Tue 2 Aug 2011, 2:21, 8 replies)
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)
I got tuberculosis...
and coughed a lung. In Sainsbury's.

(, Mon 1 Aug 2011, 21:44, 1 reply)
Threw up...
£200 of various drinks from Alma de Cuba including a £50 bottle of Gevrey Chambertin.

Kids, Just because you're drinking something expensive doesn't mean you're getting "rich people alcohol" that makes you classy by fucking osmosis. It's the same molecule.
(, Mon 1 Aug 2011, 20:21, 1 reply)
I stayed in the hotel in Madrid where the Beckhams once took a suite.
I bought a packet of 20 Marlborough from a cigarette machine, for about 3 euro! I bought 4 cans of lager from the local offy for about the same. Oh, yes, I lived the dream!
My colleagues and I were booked in for breakfast, but the room was full of expensive suits and we didn't fancy being the only ones in there in Top Man suits and cheap shoes.
If I were in the same situation today I'd probably wear an old T-shirt to breakfast and charge my bar tab and porn channels to the firm. A missed opportunity, I think.
(, Mon 1 Aug 2011, 18:08, Reply)
Tiger brand coffee is a real treat.

(, Mon 1 Aug 2011, 17:44, 3 replies)
So, can we do the opposite next week?
i.e. my suggestion from last week: real good value for money.

This week's stories are making me feel a bit sick with humanity.

And I haven't even read most of them.

Seriously though, does it actually make you feel good to spunk a load of money on sipping indifferent champagne in the back of a stretch limo, when you know most of the people you are 'impressing' in the street think you're a prize wanker?

Or is that just me? Is it a 21st Century thing?
(, Mon 1 Aug 2011, 17:25, 16 replies)
I once had a cigarette
rolled on the plump thigh of a middle-aged Glaswegian fag factory operative.
(, Mon 1 Aug 2011, 17:24, 1 reply)
Somebody tell me
Who the fuck is smug croissant guy anyway? It looks a bit like Woody Harrelson but my googling skills are failing me here.
(, Mon 1 Aug 2011, 17:06, 1 reply)
Once upon a time
before taking up the mantle of impoverished arts journalist, I was well posh. I went to black-tie dinners at least once a week and amassed a collection of ballgowns that now sit at the back of my wardrobe as a pretty but embarrassing reminder of my social and financial descent.

The highpoint (or perhaps not) of this particular period of indulgence was being invited to a seven-course dinner to celebrate the 700th anniversary of the college, where, amongst other things, we were served roast fucking swan (tastes rank, a bit like leathery fish) and toasted each other with mead out of the silver-encrusted horn of an extinct animal. I took a break after the third course to go and get plastered on champagne and smoke French fags in a medieval cloister.

I dine on pasta a la Lidl these days, but life is sweeter.
(, Mon 1 Aug 2011, 16:48, Reply)
I stayed in a luxury hotel over the weekend.
It was absolutely stunning, and even had one of those fancy drinking water fountains in the bathroom. I think the proper term for it is a 'bidet'?
(, Mon 1 Aug 2011, 15:48, Reply)
Ostentatious or lame?
A friend of a friend of mine* used to be in the habit of turning up at whoever's house we were round with very expensive bottles of wine. I'm not talking thousands of pounds or anything stupid, but bottles worth £50 or more. Not so out there in itself, but when you drink your prime bottle of Bordeaux after 6 red bull and vodkas and a packet of Marlboros, then decide to mix it with diet Coke, are you really getting any mileage out of your decent bottle of wine? Or are you a train wreck of a man, trying to impress in very odd ways?
(, Mon 1 Aug 2011, 15:44, 2 replies)
No Honda Accords here
My mother’s cousins did very well in life. Despite coming through a fairly poverty-ridden childhood, they ended up very, very rich. So great was their rise that Thatcher name-checked them in a speech in Parliament to illustrate what a good job she was doing. That kinda rich.

And now their kids, who are my age, are doing equally well.

One day last year, I get a phonecall from my mum. One of these “kids” (I have no idea what relation I actually am to them) had rung. They were heading up to Liverpool to watch the reds play Chelsea (they are all Liverpool fans) and had a spare ticket, so would I like to go?

Of course I would. I got their mobile number and rang them, asking where we should meet. They said my mum’s house, since they know where that is – normally they flew up and got a taxi to the ground, so didn’t know how to drive there.

So I’m sat in my mum’s, waiting for them to arrive and I can hear the sweet sound of an Italian V8 coming. I look outside and lo and behold, there is a Ferrari F430, containing two of my mum’s cousin’s kids.

They come in to have a brew and the conversation naturally turns to how we are going to get to the ground. Sam, who owned the Ferrari, said he wanted to drive down. I pointed out what they should already know, in that Anfield is a shithole and they should not leave a shiny, new Ferrari parked on the street there. He didn’t care, he wanted to head off as soon as the final whistle went, he had something important to do in London the next day. I tried to talk him out of it, to no avail.

So I hoped in my super-sleek, super-sexy, super-stylish… 12 year old Mondeo and drove to Anfield, being followed all the way by a bright red F430.

I parked where I normally park, outside my mate’s granddad’s house (just by the Cabbage Hall, for those who know the area) and the Ferrari was duly parked behind it. It drew a crowd, probably because everyone assumed “Ferrari? In Anfield? Must be a player”

The road we parked in is only about 10 terraced houses long and, as we moved through the disappointed crowd, Sam said, in a very loud voice, “Looking at those houses, I could probably buy the whole street for less than I paid for that car”

He was right.
(, Mon 1 Aug 2011, 14:52, 7 replies)
Insurance company
Some of the posts here reminded me about an event from some years ago. I was taking part in an insurance audit of a factory in Louisiana, working with 2 folk from an insurance company and 1 fire consultant. We worked extremely hard all week - very long days, working evenings and late into the night as well. After we'd finished and presented our report we felt free to relax, and thought we deserved a bit of a blow-out. So we headed to New Orleans.

The insurance company guys were hosting the trip, and paying the way for me and the other consultant. So they called the shots: putting us all up in a very good hotel, and deciding that the first call for dinner would be an oyster bar.

So the 4 of us sat in the oyster bar: an insurance guy ordered champage and a dozen oysters each, to be hand-shucked at our table. They do this sort of thing well in New Orleans, and this huge guy in a leather apron with a metal glove on one hand came and stood by our table with a trolley covered in ice and a pile of oyster, shucking as fast as he could and providing salt, lemon juice, etc. We slurped oysters and drank champage while everyone else in the restaurant sat staring alternately at us and their half-dozen oyster plate, which their tour-voucher entitled them to.

From there we went to a restaurant with one of those cast-iron balconies, and sat having a meal of blackened fish and something-or-other with dirty rice, all accompanied by more champage, while watching the crowds in Bourbon Street.

Our insurance host asked the waiter if he knew of any good bars: the waiter dug into his pocket and handed us some passes to a lapdance club. The waiters get paid to do this - and it's always worth asking the waiters to recommend somewhere. So the next stop was the club where we got pushed to the front of the queue and ushered to a table just in front of the stage. The host bought more champage and, after speaking to the waitress, bought us each $200 worth of vouchers - which look just like dollars but can only be spent in the club on drink or dancers.

So we sat there in an alcoholic stupour, watching the increasingly attractive women do their stuff and come and chat to us. I was at the stage of feeling incapable, so declined the offers of private dances and just stuffed my vouchers into the straps of whichever dancers smiled at me. The fire consultant though was completely obssessed with one girl. He bought dance after dance from her, then begged the insurance guy host for more vouchers when he ran out. He was sorely tempted to go to the VIP lounge for a private 'show', but the rest of us convinced him that it wasn't a good idea.

The fire consultant never made it down to breakfast the next day. I had to go and knock on his door when it was time to leave for the airport and he appeared, looking decidedly grey, and also extremely ashamed for his obssession from the night before. I hate to think how much we blew that evening between the four of us, but it all went on expenses for the guys from the insurance company, and they seemed to think it was quite normal behaviour. Now you know why your insurance premiums are so high...
(, Mon 1 Aug 2011, 14:29, Reply)
Krispy Kreme burger
My wife loves cooking, and loves watching the good food channel on the tellybox and therefore we stumbled across 'Man vs Food'. If you don't already know of it, a bloke called Adam gets increasingly fatter as he travels across Themerica tackling food challenges and eating the unhealthiest (and therefore most amazingest) food as 'filler' in the program.

One of the shows had him eating a burger where the bun was replaced with a Krispy Kreme original glazed ring donut/doughnut (cut in half and toasted on the non-glazed side). Mrs McBingobangobongo decided that she was having one for her bday brekkie.

So we had one, rump steak burger, crispy bacon, mature cheddar and the do(ugh)nut plonked on either side, all the sugar melting and running into the juices.

By the power of Grayskull it was chuffin amazing, by far the best burger I've ever eaten. I can heartily recommend giving it a go.


oh and I have a friend who bought one of his Porsches and his yacht off ebay (both of his Porsches and his M3 spit fire out of the exhaust when he does something to the 'mix' whilst driving, prolly not good for it but it is brilliant to see the faces of the folks behind)...

...and he has 2 trampolines
(, Mon 1 Aug 2011, 14:11, 10 replies)
75 grand in 4 days
just on booze in Ibiza, luckily it was on expenses...
(, Mon 1 Aug 2011, 13:42, 63 replies)
Whilst playing cards or cribbage
I frequently order my valet to bring me meat tucked between two pieces of bread, thus allowing me to eat without getting my cards greasy from eating meat with my bare hands...
(, Mon 1 Aug 2011, 12:50, 11 replies)
My friend K
Has a gambling problem. He'll lose his student loan within a week of getting it, and most often within two days. Occasionally he comes up trumps though. A couple of years ago he won a £50 poker tournament (netting £800 profit) and followed it up with a spectacular run in the cash games to take himself to £3500 within 48 hours. He spent every penny that weekend on himself and his six friends who had flown over from Ireland.

Tonight, he's spending his first night in Vegas. Tomorrow I suspect he will be in hospital with no kneecaps.
(, Mon 1 Aug 2011, 12:44, Reply)

This question is now closed.

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