I am too shy to talk to the cab driver, who is dressed in what now appears to be an ill fitting suit. I’ve been around Monaco people, and they don’t do off the peg stuff.
I’ve been flown here to play for 15 minutes with a relatively famous singer I have never met. We are opening a museum exhibition centred around Egyptian gold, and she can sing microtones. This means she has more notes in the same space than I do, and mine don’t bend. I think of it as cutting sushi with a spoon (me) or a razorblade (her). It’s good to feel like a beginner sometimes, but not in front of a hundred dignitaries eating with what appears to be spray painted gold cutlery. The music is supposed to be surprising them, beginning slowly in the dark, behind a kind of giant mosquito net, emerging from the dry ice as the lights come up and the net, having outlived its purpose, falls unceremoniously to the ground with a thump. There is a smattering of applause and somebody drops a teaspoon. People don’t really know whether to clap unless they are told, and if I’ve learnt anything it’s that.
Those fifteen minutes feel like hours, but it’s over too soon. It’s a world of music that I seem to be glimpsing through a crack in the wall that will soon close again, for now. I imagine, in between negotiating the exquisite buzzing and bending of intervals of her voice, one of the many baked brown men in the audience as his white rolled-up trousers catch fire with the sheer tension of it. A further ripple of applause rocks the house.
It’s easy to mock the rich, and it’s dangerous to generalise, but mostly they seem bored, perhaps a little protective of what they have earned or acquired by fair means or foul. Money buys you until tomorrow to decide what to spend it on that makes you happy, but then there’s tomorrow’s tomorrow too. The eternal mañana, a constant opening of presents. A Ferrari, a bar of soap, wine on the water, how can I thank you enough.
Breakfast the next morning takes place on the sunny terrace, I get there early to avoid the previous night’s revellers. I’m shown to my table by a waitress in a smart black dress, which looks like it was designed, as with everything in this place, for my comfort rather than hers. I don’t stay long, but the muesli is exceptional.
I leave just enough time for packing and a shower. For one morning life runs like a contactless clockwork machine. While deciding what else to spend it on, money seems to facilitate a certain kind of frictionless passage through these logistics of life.
My driver’s early and he has a big black limousine. It’s a short ride to the airport and it passes in, what must be for him, a familiar silence. I am being picked up from the hotel on the water and I don’t talk.
He probably wonders how I can afford it, dressed as I am in last season’s shorts from TK Maxx and an old t shirt. I wonder if he lives there or if he commutes, if he’s busy, the usual stuff, where he bought his suit.