The last few weeks of the year in accountancy land are usually either empty waste places of grey where nothing happens at all, or times of great sound and fury when everyone wants everything now, if not yesterday, or sooner.
This summer, is definitely of the latter variety; with either my phone or my boss's phone, ringing more often than Santa Claus' sleigh going for a ride in a spin dryer. (By the way, it's hot in there. Don't do it; stay safe.)
One of our clients who wants a report written for a family law case, came to our offices with a trolley of documents which I'm sure is purely for show, handed us a manila folder, and proceeded to tell us stories which I imagine were supposed to impress us with how fantastically wealthy he was, but online had the effect of making us answer "uhuh" at appropriate moments. It is exactly like that trip I was once on when I was still working for the law courts and someone wanted to tell me a story but I couldn't hear a thing over the drone of the propeller engines - they could have been a terrorist for all I know and I'd have been none the wiser.
At a point in the conversation where this lawyer had explained that his daughter was on a gap year in Spain and his son was finishing up law school, I was asked almost out of the blue where I would be "summering" as though that was a word which was normal. As if to appear impressive and probably in the hope that I would be envious, he very deliberately turned to me and told me that he would be "summering" in Switzerland.
When I explained that I had no travel plans, I was then asked if I was planning a mini-break or going on a staycation and when I replied no to both of those things, I was given a look as though I'd contracted explosive-syphilis-tuberculosis-diahorrea or something and was impolitely ejected from the conversation.
I said hardly anything from that point onwards and kind of went into a kind of daydream mode thinking about the distribution of prime numbers, when I was snapped back into reality when I was asked about what books I'd read lately and said that I'd read Thomas More's "Utopia" and "The Republic" by Plato and he was again disappointed that I hadn't read some novel which my boss later told me was rubbish and not very well written.
As if to be deliberately offensive, he then asked about where I live and then went on a rant about how everyone in Western Sydney is either illiterate, or a drunkard, or a multitude of other abominations in his eyes which included being of a different race or religion. To add a touch of perspective to this conversation, my boss asked him where he thought that Western Sydney actually was and apparently it begins in Stanmore.
I don't know just how representative this man's view of Sydney actually is when compared to the rest of the population but given what former Treasurer Joe Hockey said with regards poor people not being able to afford driving cars but I'm beginning to suspect that it might be more true than I would have thought.
Especially among those people who work in the upper echelons of the law, there is a genuine loathing for the working class as though poverty were a disease which they should be immunised against. Perhaps this explains the current government's desire to lower the company tax rates because in doing so, they engineer society in such a way so as to make the gap between the idiotic working proles and themselves unbridgeable.
I think that the reason for the almost continual disdain and suspicion of the imagined people of the mythical place called "the western suburbs" is partly because of the bubble in which people happen to live inside of. Most people have a group of friends and acquaintances who are roughly from the same socioeconomic group as themselves and so there is case of economic xenophobia going on. This is likely to be reinforced by a diet of Sky Business being projected into the inside of their bubble because ABC News is seen as communist, Trotskyist, or socialist. Naturally there is a reciprocal suspicion of the people of the east but that is nowhere near as important because of the immediate and obvious power imbalance.
I think that I cause a distinct sense of confusion for people like this lawyer. Quite obviously I am at least partly intelligent and because I've read Shakespeare, Aristotle, Cicero, Dickens, Hayek, Von Mises, Keynes, Adam Smith, Mill and Rousseau, I pose a threat to their worldview that everyone in the west are illiterate dipsomaniac thickos.
There are studies which indicate that the amount of dipsomania remains relatively constant across the classes and that the use of recreational drugs actually goes upwards slightly with an increase in disposable discretionary income. So as this lawyer is knocking back his third gin and tonic of the evening (before charging the cab fare to the firm and writing it off as a tax deduction) there's more than a hint of hypocrisy in this regard. As I explained in a previous post (see Horse 2346), if I had untold billions of dollarpounds with which to build a house, one of the rooms that I would definitely have to have would be a library. Probably my most favourite room in the whole world is the central reading room in Melbourne Library, with its great octagonal chamber of books on several balcony levels. Illiterate dipsomaniac thicko? Untrue on all three counts.
As the summer rolls around and the mercury climbs to the stupid side of forty degrees Celsius, I will be reminded of this lawyer who will be "summering" in Switzerland. I am also sure with absolute certainty that he will not be reminded of me at all. I might be tormented by the unavoidable heat and wishing to be somewhere that I could watch the dainty falling of snow but I can guarantee that I will be somewhere with a book for at least part of the summer. I won't be "summering" because although I agree with verbing nouns and even nouning verbs, "summering" sounds daft. I also won't be hearing sleigh bells ringing or the telephone ringing but I might return to daydream mode and think about the distribution of prime numbers again.