Money to Money

London is a very different place to Mexico City. It lacks the sense of community that exists in Mexico. Camden just can’t pull off ‘bohemian’ like Coyoacan. And the colours and contrasts of the Distrito Federal simply have no comparable rival this side of the pond.

But London does ‘grand’ on a scale that I am sure would leave most Chilangos breathless. The seemingly endless streets of imposing, solid and striking Victorian architecture. Mexico City might be bigger, but when you’re comparing the central parts that a tourist would want to see, London is by some margin the bigger.

You could walk across DF’s Centro Historico in a leisurely afternoon stroll. It’d take a day or two to do the same in London. And whilst the world’s richest man might reside in Mexico City, and whilst there are some seriously expensive places there, it doesn’t smell of money like London smells of money.

I spent last Saturday walking around Victoria and Belgravia smelling other people’s money. Or at least smelling what they’ve spent it on. Perhaps a cake at Peggy Porschens. Peggy will give you a class on making a tiered wedding cake for about £1,000. If that’s too rich for you, then a few hours in her cookie class will set you back just £270. In Mexican money that’s about $20,000 and $5,400, respectively.

If smelling cakes isn’t your thing, then how about burned rubber? The streets are positively littered with Ferraris, Bentleys, Lamborghinis and Porsches. I imagine Peggy the cake maker drives a Porsche. The one in the photo below was parked nearby, so perhaps it was hers. Whoever owns it, I got a good photo out of it. I thank him or her for the opportunity to smell his or her money, and photograph it too, to boot.

A lot of this money is new money. Earned by working hard in the city’s financial centre. Profiteering from the poorer members of society through outrageous bank charges, or simply taking it direct through tax funded bail outs. One way or the other.

Not that I begrudge a person making it to the big time and being rewarded accordingly. I’d just like to see renumeration in general being a little more fairly spread out, and for the tax office to get a little more of the revenue they need for the aforementioned bail outs, from the source of the problem. Oh, and of course for me personally to get a bit more! Till then I will trudge the streets looking at other people’s money.

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17 Comments

  • P.S. A nice car in DF is a serious liability. You might as well just pin a tag on the back of your Armani jacket that say, “Kidnap Me! I’m good for the ransom.”

    • The lucky ones in London purchasing Rollers, Porsches and Ferraris choose optional extras such as fancy wheels or stereo systems. In Mexico they choose between 3 back up security vehicles or 4. Should they go for the M16 toting security guards, or the Kalashnikov crew?

      • Carlos Slim apparently drives his own elderly Merc, and has 3 vehicles with bodyguards in tow.

        Funny…I always thought of him as a helicopter kind of guy. But apparently he’s quite frugal, having also lived in the same house for 40 years.

        Reminds me of a story. F and I met up with one of his friends after Gay Pride in 2009, or thereabouts. We went back to the friend’s place in Polanco, which was nice, but nothing amazing. While we were there, we heard a terrible racket. Turned out it was the neighbor landing his helicopter on the roof of the adjacent building. Apparently that was his way of commuting. I was astonished, both because F’s friends didn’t seem to mind, (I’d have moved in a heartbeat) and because here was someone who actually commuted in a helicopter.

        Saludos,

        Kim G
        Boston, MA
        Where, lately, we’ve taken to using the ever-glamourous subway. But when it warms up, we’ll be back on the motorcycle.

        • I read an article about Slim recently, and his insistence on driving himself about. I’m kinda disappointed that I left Mexico before his art museum opened. Although I’m kinda disappointed I left Mexico….

          A helicopter commuter? That’s so very Mexico, really. Anything you wouldn’t expect to happen in Mexico, is very Mexico.

          I guess you get used to a situation. I used to live almost on top of a Tube station. Every time a train went past the windows rattled, conversation was drowned, and the carpets rippled. And I never really noticed any of it..

  • London has some seriously rich people. Whenever I am there, I feel quite poor, which is an unusual feeling.

    In the late 90’s my brother worked as an expat for Barclay’s in a rather cush position, and they put him and his family up in a rather nice house in Chelsea, near the Albert Bridge. The neighborhood was as rich as it was lacking in garages. So you’d see late-model Rollers, Lambos and Ferraris all parked in front of the houses, covered with dust and grime just like any mere Volcho parked on a DF side street. Amazing.

    There’s an interesting article in The Economist of a few weeks back about how all the banker and hedge-fund types who moved to Geneva to escape the taxes are finding it bland, boring, and much more expensive than expected. Even the taxes aren’t quite the deal they were hoping for.

    So there may be wave of them returning. More hot cars on the streets to come.

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    Boston, Ma
    Where we try not to have too nice a car, given all the potholes, snow, ice, and worst of all, salt on the roads.

    • Perhaps your brother and I were neighbours! 🙂

      In the early 90’s I rented accommodation in Oakley Street, which leads directly onto the Albert Bridge, my favourite of all London’s bridges. With, perhaps, the exception of Tower Bridge.

      It was an exclusive neighbourhood. Next door but one was George Best, probably the most talented footballer Britain has ever had. Course, he owned a whole building, or at least a whole floor. I had to make do with a small room. Swing a cat? A cat couldn’t have swung a rat. And it swallowed half my monthly income. But for the location, it was great.

      I’m going to give car driving a miss. Petrol is an exorbitant £1.34 a litre. Which is, I guess, a couple of cents shy of US$10 for a gallon. I have my eye on a large, comfortable looking motor scooter that squeezes 130mpg out of its engine.

      • Seriously!?! My brother lived on Oakley Gardens. You two WERE neighbors. That’s too funny.

        And yes, he had a very nice situation. 4-floor house all to himself, wife and (at the time) two little girls.

        ‘Tis a small world indeed.

        Kim G
        Boston, MA
        Where we are now wondering which of our neighbors we will bump into in an unlikely foreign locale.

        • Well, there is the ‘Six Degrees of Separation’ theory. I’m not referring to Kevin Bacon’s film, which I haven’t seen, but to a really interesting BBC doc from a couple of years ago by Marty Feldman. He did refer to Bacon’s film a lot mind you. I did look to see if I could find it on the net, but alas, it appears it’s no longer available. Shame. It featured a guy from Boston, funnily enough.

          I lived near Kings Road. If memory serves me well, my ‘apartment’ was in the third building on the right. The wonder of Google Maps – I can go look at my old front door. There’s a Porsche outside. I never owned a Porsche. It’s for the best I left – I was just giving the hood a bad name! When I was there, a black Countach sat across the road most evenings.

          Floor four house? I’m seriously jealous. I had a four foot room. No wife or kids, mind you.

          I’m trying to think of the exact year I was there. It would have been ’90 or ’91. Probably the latter.

      • More like about USD $8.20 a gallon, but still frightful. I’m now paying about $3.75 per gallon for premium. And feeling rather smug that I’ve arranged my life around never having to drive much.

        Saludos,

        Kim G
        Boston, MA
        Where we believe that SUVs and other gas guzzlers will become increasingly passé. So much for living large.

        • Smugness is a positive attribute, always. One would hope that the gas guzzling giants are consigned to yesterday. But one would have thought that some of the US car giants would have seen their folly after the crises of the 70’s. I’m sure GM in particular paid the price for continued reliance on them when the crash came in 2007/8.

  • Beautiful car! Just had a day worker stop by the casa here in Puerto Escondido – willing to put in a hard eight hour day for 200 pesos (about $18 U.S.). Different strokes for sure. Oh and I haven’t seen a Porsche since last in the U.S.

    • Yup, two different worlds. Really nice cars are few and far between in DF. I saw just the one Ferrari in my six years, and could count the number of Porsches on one hand. No Lambos or Rollers. I saw more $100,000 plus cars on this one street in London in the space of 20 mins than I did in the whole of my time in Mexico.

    • Mexico is a great place to be on a shoestring budget. London demands a little more cash to really have fun. I’m definitely in the former category at the moment…

      You should skip a cruise Chris, and go visit Mexico City, and take a trip or three to Guanajuato or Oxaca. Or both. You wouldn’t be disappointed, and you’d probably save a buck on a boat trip. In fact, you might never take a cruise again!

  • Cool wheels Gary but I cannot see myself driving down my Patzcuaro neighborhood with it deep potholes and uneven cobbled stones. The price of repairs would be astronomical! Besides that I would be suspected of being a narco king! Wake up and smell the money.

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