So there's this beautiful working class young Viennese girl, I'll call her Heidi, (my mum), who runs away from her dysfunctional family at 21, ending up in London working as an au pair. It is the sixties. She goes to the Rolling Stones concert in Hyde Park where they released all those white butterflies. One of the butterflies lands on my dad's (I'll call him Jaspar) shoulder. Eyes meet, cosmic forces collide. He is an upper class twit, she is well, an Austrian. They make beautiful music. Someone doesn't know how to use a condom or the pill. Whatever. The result is, I am conceived.
Jaspar tries to avoid the situation by hiding under the bed at his Nash house by Regent's Park (I'm serious) where he still lives with mummy and daddy (he is 21).
Jaspar's dad goes and visits Heidi and offers her a bunch of wilted flowers and a few bob to get the situation 'sorted out'. Heidi tells him where to stuff his ten bob note and the flowers and ends up having the baby (me) and living in a tiny flat with no bathroom, a bit like this one:
Meanwhile, she asks Jaspar for a bit of money, but he is not very interested in this idea, believing that babies are self-sustaining. Getting a bit desperate, she asks his parents if maybe we could live on one of the six floors of the mansion? This gets short shrift from them. She is, after all, a bloody foreigner! Also, the basement flat is occupied by a family of bloody foreigners who clean the house (Spaniards).
So basically, we live in a bit of a shit hole, waiting ten years for a council flat. Hurrah, it arrives! Now we have a BATHROOM. Crack open the champagne. Unbelievable. Then, if some of you are wondering how it is I speaks posh, it's because I got a free place at a nob's school, aged eleven (explanatory note for Americans: 'nob' means: a person of wealth and high social standing, a member of the upper-classes, it can also mean idiot and penis). So there I is, poor as a church mouse, yet talking posh. Then, when I am fourteen, I throw a party at my council flat, with lots of cider, hoping to get laid etc. Now, naturally, all the girls at school have the manors in Hampstead and the lads from the local public (note for Americans: this means a private school) school have the mansions in Highgate. So one posh bloke says to me, when he comes to the party: "Wow, nice of your dad to buy you a little flat of your own to hang out in." "No," says I, "I actually live here!" He laughs his head off. Somehow I don't think he believes me.
All of which is a bit of a background for my surprise when my six year old, Scarlett says to me yesterday, "Mummy, we're poor, aren't we?"
I almost fainted!
Three bed house, yard the size of a football pitch, two fucking bathrooms, two cars and she asks if we are poor? This is America. Oh God. She is six and doesn't know that this isn't poverty.
When I think of what I had as a kid, and she thinks we are living in poverty, just because we don't have an SUV. Oh boy. I supppose she simply doesn't know the value of money. Makes me laugh. In England one's accent defines what class you are. Here it about how big your house is.
I guess at some point, when she starts getting pocket money at seven for doing chores, she will realise that money doesn't grow on trees, that it is quite hard to come by and maybe learn that it has a value. Right now she gets angry when I say she can't have the hot lunch at school because $1.50 for a slice of pizza seems a bit steep and that she should just take sandwiches instead.
How did your parents teach you the value of money? Or how do you teach your kids the value of money?
Who am I? Displaced Londoner now living in the States with my two little girlies and long suffering husband. Co-author of hilarious parenting book Cocktails at Naptime www.cocktailsatnaptime.com
My mom's an Austrian, my dad's a Brit, which makes me a Britaustrian, or possibly an Austrish?