I should say here that we don’t live in the lap of luxury. We live in a modest, drafty, slightly mouldy three-bedroom, one-bathroom 150-year-old villa. We have one car, a Hyundai family wagon that felt like the height of luxury and soccer-mom chic after our ancient battered workhorse Saab.
Unlike most of our kids’ school friends, we don’t winter annually in Fiji. In fact our kids have never been overseas; Hapless and I have managed two weekends in Australia in the last nine years. We’ve taken the boys to the snow twice in their lives, though that was enough to turn them into mad ski grommets.
But for the last few years we’ve been earning enough to whittle away at the mortgage, to not skimp at the supermarket, to keep us in Apple gadgets, to have a week or two away at a bach in summer.
And because I’ve been the one bringing in most of it, I’ve also indulged myself along the way in shoes and clothes and haircuts. (I joke that the reason I work is so I can buy boots without guilt. And that is partly true, though it’s never entirely guilt-free.)
So not quite the lap of luxury, but still in the luckiest one per cent of the luckiest one per cent of the world’s population. And it’s got to be a worthwhile exercise to strip away for a while the non-essential preoccupations of an affluent minority. Looking good, dressing well, dining out, keeping one’s home conveniently and tastefully appointed, offering the kids the full smorgasbord of middle-class privilege and opportunity.
Because, of course, the ultimate luxury we have is that of choice.