Types

Riding around the Winkfield Row, Maiden’s Green area, getting towards Windsor, there are plenty of houses that you can readily imagine belong to city types – obviously expensive, near to London, ‘nice’ area. Fine, it makes for a decent area to cycle around too – during weekday daytimes it’s amazingly quiet.

What it made me wonder about though, was about the character types of the people who own them.

The media are making a thing at the moment about emails purportedly written by Syrian President Assad and his wife which, if they’re true, seem to demonstrate very well callousness and gross self-indulgence on the part of the pair of them. In a nutshell, she’s shopping for shoes at nearly £4,000 a pair while their country seems to be sliding towards civil war. This is a woman Vogue once called the ‘freshest and most magnetic of first ladies’; Paris Match said she was a ‘ray of light’. In general the West seems to have liked to think of her as a reformer because she grew up in Acton and worked as an investment banker for JP Morgan.

What I found myself considering was whether, in fact, her career as an investment banker might instead suggest that she’s now acting true to type. I can’t think of anything about anything connected with the absolutely phenomenal bail-out of the banking industry that has brought to light any meaningful contrition on the part of bankers or has shown them to be concerned, socially aware and community-minded citizens. I can’t help but suspect President Assad’s wife is merely acting true to character, and that if there had been a clearer evaluation of the character seemingly needed to be a banker, there wouldn’t have been any false hopes about her. Nor would so much trust have been placed in bankers.

I’m not saying the character type is inherently bad. Maybe it’s needed in that professional role. All I’m saying is that that character type probably doesn’t lend itself to issues of social justice and reform, and it may well be naive to think otherwise.

And talking of types, I fail to understand why Councils employ staff who are the type of person to spend money on so-called anti-skid road surfaces when a short drive around pretty well any locale will find any number of instances where these surfaces have deteriorated to leave a pitted, pot-holed road that results in less traction for motorists and thus more danger for all road users. The net result is that they’re spending money and doing their constituents no favours. At the same time, they’re closing services like libraries on the grounds of saving money, which is also doing their constituents no favours. It makes no sense.