WE DO like to gawp. If it’s not road accidents it’s people without faces or too many legs or a body that weighs seven times more than our own.
Or rich folk taking a comedy punch on the nose.
I don’t rubberneck as I drive past road smashes, even though the journalist imp within is urging me to do so.
I haul my gaze away for the very good reason that not to do so would endanger my own safety, that of my passengers, and that of other road users.
I can’t bring myself to watch TV programmes that exploit people with deformities or social deficiencies because it makes me cringe, and I have yet to hear a good argument for making oneself cringe.
But rich folk taking a custard pie: oh, bring it on.
Paul McCartney seems like a nice chap. He has a good ear for music but an old man’s tendency to believe sweet nothings when they are whispered into it.
Are we supposed to be upset that the current economic crisis has reduced his fortune by £60m to £440m?
Are we supposed to be upset that weird Michael Jackson has had to abandon Neverland in California and live in Bahrain?
Britain’s billionaires have seen £155bn wiped from their bank accounts by the present troubles.
I don’t think that droves of ordinary folk who worked for the rich folk are without jobs as a result. Where that has been the case, I am sympathetic.
But a quick glance down the list shows that a great number of rich folk inherited their wealth, gained it from one or more lucrative divorce settlements, saw the value of their property portfolio slip, or were involved in the creation of fashion items that nobody can now afford to wear.
Rich folk have a nasty habit of salting their booty offshore and employing accountants to ensure they pay as little tax as possible on the mainland.
In other words, rich folk are obsessed with being rich, staying rich, and getting richer.
New Labour screwed down its cloth cap at Budget-time and became, briefly, Old Labour. The raising of the top rate of income tax from 40p to 50p in the £1 was seen by some as an act of Kier Hardy style vengeance.
They’ll go away and take their money with them, screamed the critics.
No they won’t. This is a great country in which to invest. In many ways it’s a great country in which to live.
The rich will just shuffle their over-large bottoms uncomfortably, adjust their monocles and get on with it, as will we all.
This is all big picture: What about the specifics? Well, I’ve been thinking about this too.
If I were Chancellor I would have gone for the rich in a big way, but I would have spared a thought for the Hooray Henrys who populate wine bars and who are imitation, nascent or wannabe rich folk.
Why should we working class folk have to pay 2p a pint more for our beer? This is killing pubs. Bang a huge tax on supermarket booze by all means, but leave pub beer alone, Mr Darling.
The snorting idiots who live in wine bars couldn’t care less if their rainbow-coloured cocktails and ditch-water Bratislavan lagers cost a pound more post-Budget.
In fact, it seems that the more expensive their girly quaffs become, the more they like it, because it gives them a chance to prove to their fellow Hooray Henrys that they can afford it.
So that’s where the tax load should go. On the idiots. Be a good Socialist and leave us poor pub folk alone with our whippets and coal-filled baths, Mr Darling.