Serious Money: Walking Plutocratic London by Caroline Knowles - review by Thomas Blaikie

Thomas Blaikie

How Deep is Your Basement?

Serious Money: Walking Plutocratic London


Allen Lane 303pp £25

Are the rich so awful? Caroline Knowles, professor of sociology at Goldsmiths, sets out on foot through ‘plutocratic London’ to find out. She trudges all the way from Shoreditch to Virginia Water, by way of Mayfair, Belgravia, Kensington and Chelsea (not all in one go, of course), hoping to sniff out the super-rich, ‘the city’s most … secretive presence’. Her choice of footwear, ballerina pumps, is unusual for the purpose.

As we know, there’s been a rising tide of what the late Duchess of Devonshire called ‘multis’ in recent years, but now we must add ‘bultis’ and even ‘trultis’ to the list. Intermittently, Knowles manages to interview various examples of the type or those who serve them. Horror of publicity is an abiding characteristic of the multi world so they’re all given comical disguises. ‘Wig’ is a judge and specialist plutocrat divorce lawyer; ‘Butler’ is a butler; ‘Palace’ is a Notting Hill ‘mum’ who was brought up in a palace.

Most of Knowles’s subjects are determined to say nothing at all. Only two Notting Hill women gush away about the wonderful ‘mix’ in the area (not long after Grenfell Tower has burned down) and sound a bit silly. Those at the heart of money give her the official line

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