IT’S market day. Our local town of Orgiva is bustling. You can buy anything here on market day: fruit, vegetables, cakes, meat, bread, plants, shoes, frocks, trousers, pots, pans. And if your frock or your shoes don’t fit, take them back next week and get them changed. Try doing that at a market in England . . .
While Anne does the shopping – which she accomplishes more effectively without my presence – I sit outside a cafe drinking tea and perusing the papers on my Kindle. I see the new Duke of Westminster, who on the last gasp of his progenitor inherited £9bn and became the third-richest landowner in Britain, is now the landlord of estates here in Spain.
I should congratulate Hugh Richard Louis Grosvenor on his good fortune and welcome him to the club of Spanish landowners, though I expect his estates are slightly more illustrious and more productive than my half-acre plot. Really, I feel a pang of sorrow for his two elder sisters who, through the British tradition of primogeniture, are rudely bypassed in the snakes and ladders of aristocratic tradition. The third child, in this case, wins the ducal lottery by dint of being male.
Apparently, this is to prevent the girls rushing down their local market – which is Chester, I believe –and lavishing their father’s accumulated fortune on shoes and frocks that don’t fit.
A cynic might argue that in a country where women’s issues and sexual inequality are currently top of the political agenda, the grotesque mediaeval privileges of the male
super-rich should be robustly challenged. But opinion remains eerily silent.
Meanwhile, The Guardian stated yesterday that the rail-workers’ guaranteed overtime payment for working Sundays was “a relic of the steam age” in our 24/7 society – a casual and uninformed remark that caused my eyes to boggle alarmingly. Steam age bad; feudal age good? Perhaps it’s me who’s out of step, not the rest of the world.
It’s enough to make a man trudge round the market to buy his own shoes. Nearly.