Myths of time lead to true content;Opinion

10th September 1999 at 01:00
CLASS hatred reared its head last week. Not the kind that my father used to suffer every September when faced with a new batch of 30 disobedient ignoramuses but the kind that young girls are prey to when walking around a marina full of yachts.

Our Saturday trip to the sea was most definitely marred by Ginny's unexpected invective against the rich. How COULD they sun themselves so happily when there was suffering in the world, particularly the suffering of an 11-year-old girl who desperately wants to be on deck with them.

"Don't worry," said Chloe, a schoolfriend who had joined us and was behaving wonderfully, as other people's children always do.

"They're probably not very happy, Ginny. Rich people usually aren't."

"Well I certainly HOPE they're not," said my daughter. "Or else life just isn't fair."

I listened but held my tongue, especially once Ginny started advocating socialism based on the redistribution of cabin cruisers.

There are three necessary myths that we tell ourselves in this life - "Money doesn't make you happy", "Princess Diana had cellulite" and "Don't worry, it happens to most men". These little aphorisms help sustain our morale.

Whether they are true hardly matters. We cling to them and our Universe makes sense. Actually, in my experience, the rich are just as capable of finding happiness as the rest of us. They are no better at it and no worse, it's just that they are better placed to take consolation in material goods if they fail.

I didn't pass on my wisdom as these ideas seemed a tad sophisticated for the average 11-year-old. That was until I found out, later in the day, that Chloe The Peacemaker had just got her first GCSE - a grade A in English. At the age of 11! Dumbstruck, I shook her father's hand. What on earth was the school thinking of, letting Chloe take exams at an age that would humiliate her friends'


My wife was equally sceptical. "I don't know," she said. "It makes you worry about Chloe doesn't it? It marks her out as different."

"Yes," I replied. "I wouldn't want Ginny being that clever. Really bright children never go on to lead happy lives do they?"

Make that four essential myths.

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