Once upon a time, Jersey had an economy that remained afloat on a combination of potato exports and beach holidays for British families who thought an exotic destination was one that involved getting on a boat. Our people weren’t wealthy, but we were happy with what we had – bean crock, a functional German vocabulary and skin cancer.
Our Cinderella story came in the form of the finance industry, which transformed our humble island virtually overnight into a glittering pumpkin of high society parties and ostentatious wealth. I’ve heard it said that it resembles something from The Great Gatsby, but I’ve had a permanent champagne hangover since 1986 so haven’t had a chance to get much reading done beyond back issues of Tatler. What I do know is that Jersey’s realm of beautiful people can be a difficult place to live if you lack the means to provide yourself with the kind of lifestyle you know you deserve.
I’m ashamed to reveal that my parents were upper-middle class at best – if hadn’t disowned them at 16 there was a chance I might have had to work for a living. Instead, to fulfil my dreams of becoming a society princess, I was forced to marry into money two or three times, but unfortunately girls and boys these days will discover that a good sugar daddy can be hard to find. A combination of watertight prenuptial agreements and more efficient heart medication has dramatically reduced your chances of becoming a merry widow in your late twenties. I have a shocking message for today’s aspiring gold diggers: if you want to squeeze your way into high society you’re going to need to do a bit more than wander around the marina in Manolos and a miniskirt.
Tip #1: get a job, but not a real job
Work? Shocking, I know. But before you recoil in horror, understand that I don’t mean anything as demeaning as doing any actual labour. It is important to remember that wealth is mostly about appearances, so the last thing you want to do is give the impression of actually needing to earn money for yourself. Your task is to create a convincing outward impression of success, so at best you should get a job that mostly involves looking glamorous and meeting wealthy people, like charity fundraiser or botox clinic receptionist. The graft comes in constructing an elaborate lifestyle for yourself that you can still afford (perhaps with the help of a credit card) but that will convince those wealthy people that you deserve to spend time in their radiant presence. A nice little job is a win-win – even if you don’t work your way into a billionaire’s hot tub, at the very least you’ll have money to pay credit card interest and will fool other less-rich people into thinking you’re just a tiny bit above them, which is better than nothing.
Tip #2: appearances are deceptive, darling
As I’ve said, wealth is mostly about surface detail. Rich people may appear to be very good at not noticing poor people, but in reality they are finely attuned to signals that might indicate you can’t afford to buy a round of drinks at the Beaufort Bar. To stand a hope of blending in, you must camouflage yourself like The Predator if The Predator had an account card at Harrods. I wouldn’t actually waste money on real luxury clothes, as the same sweatshops that make them usually do a pretty nifty line of bootlegs available to anybody who knows how to surf the internet in Chinese. A wiser investment in your future would involve a few hundred quid’s worth of costume jewellery, a wardrobe full of knock-off Chanel and so much plastic surgery and fake hair that you’re a fire hazard under strong lights.
Tip #3: only high society can get away with slumming it
Never, ever think that you can get away with looking rough at the edges, even if you’ve spotted countless posh people who look like they haven’t bothered with nice clothes, a Mulberry handbag or even underarm deodorant. The upper classes have their own special form of scruffy, and are surprisingly adept at telling the difference between somebody who has dreadlocks because they’re taking a gap yah in India and somebody who only has them because they sell blankets at the Glastonbury festival. There are also rich people who are filthy simply because they are so rich that nobody dares tell them they smell like a wet labrador. You could try and pull this off, but you’ll need a mucky Land Rover, to be good at shouting at servants and must be unashamed of sharing the political opinions of Prince Philip. A good place to start is to talk about poor people as if they are all lazy, dirty, workshy parasites. The botox should help you keep a straight face.
Tip #4: lifestyles of the poor and infamous
As wealth is about appearances, so a faux-luxury lifestyle is about accessories. It’s tough to fake yachting around the Caribbean, but if you can blag hire-purchase on a nice car you can quite easily swan around Jersey like you’re suffering through the downtime between Ascot and a Nepalese yoga retreat. Get a normal dog, shave its hair in a weird pattern and tell people it’s an expensive pedigree hybrid. For foodie credibility you can steal pictures of luxury meals from the internet and repost them on your Instagram account – if anybody challenges you when they spot you buying supermarket own brands just roll your eyes and report them for shoplifting as soon as they’re in the vegetable aisle. If you get questioned by a genuine rich person at any point in this campaign of deception, mutter something about a stoppage on your trust fund or a hold up in probate whilst some ghastly auntie with a nickname like ‘Toggy’, ‘Bimpy’ or ‘Elizabeth Bathory’ contests Grampy’s will. As genuine rich people often have zero idea how money works they will probably believe you, and may even invite you to live in the pool house until you can afford a pool and/or house of your own.
Tip #5: the past is another country
The single most important thing to remember when penetrating high society is that you will need to be lubricated with a convincing backstory. Unlike Americans, most wealthy Europeans will not be impressed to hear that you climbed your way up from nothing. Feudalism has technically vanished but nonetheless people who inherited massive wealth still subconsciously believe that they are a separate species, favoured by God, genetics or a combination of both. You need to have been born into it, or at least in the same hospital, so if you can’t muster any good anecdotes about boarding school you will need to invent a Dickensian tale of woe that sees you forced by cruel fate to squander your birthright and mingle with commoners. This will necessitate your new wealthy pals from never meeting your family, co-workers or anybody who remembers you from nursery. I would advise that omerta can be maintained by the aforementioned plastic surgery and perhaps a new name, but as with all these tips the most important part of living a lie is that you must first come to believe it yourself. Dump your friends and family, get a second credit card and a new passport with your post-surgery face. I’ll see you in the champagne lounge, but you’ll be picking up the bill, darling.