In this month’s Bird’s Eye View, Linette Smith discusses handbags and earrings…and a bit of Hifi too.
Something that we have discussed before, and no doubt will again and again, is the price of Hifi. Some people are very vocal with their cries of ‘it cost how much????’ and ‘rip off’ whereas others are happy to part with their cash for a coveted new piece of gear for their system. Some people seek out vintage gems, classics that have stood the test of time and can sometimes be snapped up for a bargain price, others will only buy spanking brand new gear from a top end dealer. Then of course there are the ‘other’ people….’normal’ people who don’t share our ‘weird’ obsession for DACs and valves, turntables and cables. People who don’t understand why some of us have spent years putting together something ‘just to listen to music’ on and are happy splashing a grand on a new phone and then listen to MP3s on that. These kind of people say things like ‘of course I like music, I just listen to what’s on the radio’. They would rather have the latest designer label in their shirt than spend money on anything more than an I-pod dock. Pity for these poor, unenlightened ones comes in equal measure from the ‘It cost how much?!’ and the ‘Happy to part with their cash’ sides of Hifi consumers…it unites both factions of the Hifi argument and we do our best to show them what they are missing out on.
I am of the opinion that, if it’s doing no harm to anyone else, you should spend your money on what you want. In this house it tends to be Hifi (and synths at the moment -Ed) and Stuart and I are both in agreement about this. Of course that means that we go without other things that some people might consider more important, like a posh car or a new kitchen or designer clothes and bags. People often think that because I’m female, I should want the designer shoes and bags over and above Hifi. But the truth of the matter is I don’t really see the value in those kind of things. I get much more pleasure from an evening of listening to music on our Hifi than I ever would from the equivalent value of designer stuff. Don’t get me wrong I like to look good, but I just couldn’t justify spending so much money on designer gear, I mean, what can you do with a handbag other than put your stuff in to carry around…an eye-wateringly expensive designer label doesn’t make it hold my stuff any better! If money was no object then perhaps I would be happy to spend more on designer gear, but in reality, for most of us it is a question of making choices.
When I Win The Lottery
I was looking at the Cartier website the other day. Do please understand that this was in that ‘Pre-checking-the-eurosquillions-what-shall-we-spend-it-on-if-we-have-won’ kind of moment rather than any really serious shopping spree. I was drawn to their new range ‘Cactus de Cartier’; gorgeous little baubles made of gold, emeralds, carnelians and diamonds in the fine tradition of Cartier floral jewellery. I like a quirky bit of jewellery, the little flowering cactus earrings particularly caught my eye. Then I looked at the price. £54,000. Yes, I’ll repeat that £54,000 for a pair of earrings. Putting that into real terms, at today’s exchange rate that’s a pair of my beloved Avantgarde Acoustic Duo XDs for each earring….with over £4K left to spend on other gear. I do totally understand that the Cartier earrings are beautifully crafted, made from the finest materials and they will possibly turn up on the Antiques Roadshow at some point in the future and be worth even more, but I would be terrified of losing them if I wore them out and about. They would probably stay in their box somewhere safe rather than being enjoyed every day. When you look at it that way, the loudspeakers seem a much more sensible choice, you can enjoy them every day and they are much more difficult to misplace!
With Hifi it is possible to have a very nice system, that sounds great, for really, in the wider scheme of things, not a lot of money. If you have a few hundred, you can get on the ladder and once you get started you can upgrade bit by bit. If you can spend a few thousand then you can get something really wonderful, whether that’s all brand new gear, vintage or a combination of the two. Of course you can get silly, it’s possible to spend lottery winning on sums on a really high end system from the likes of Living Voice and Kondo, but that is for the elite few who are completely obsessed with music and their system, and, have either unlimited funds or completely prioritise their spending on their system.
Putting this in perspective and thinking about the hours, days and years of enjoyment a well put together Hifi will bring you, let’s look at the price of a handbag. Like I said previously, something to put your stuff in so you know where everything is when you are going about your daily business. I would think £80 to £100 on a bag would be about the maximum that I would spend….and then I would have to seriously think about it. Probably the Holy Grail of handbags (or so I am told) is the Hermès Birkin Bag. This iconic design, originally made for Jane Birkin, usually retails at around £5,600 for a standard version, and you will generally have to put your name on a list and wait 5 to 6 years for it. Victoria Beckham has a collection of these bags rumoured to be worth over £1.5 million, including a Hifi Pig pink one thought to be worth over £100,000. The most expensive handbag ever to be sold was a Himalayan crocodile Birkin with white gold and diamonds, sold for over £200,000 at Christies in Hong Kong earlier this year. Try as I might, I just can’t justify spending that kind of money on a handbag, even if I had it to spend.
I suppose it’s a question of priorities. To be honest, we are pretty lucky if we are even thinking about discussing these ‘First World Problems’. We could so easily be in the position of people who don’t know where they are going to sleep tonight or what they are going to eat, who don’t know if they and their family could be blown up tomorrow. People who perhaps were considering First World Problems just a few months ago, people just like you and me, who now find their lives in turmoil where the only vaguely viable survival option is an inflatable boat on a less than friendly sea-journey towards the unknown. Perhaps we should take a step back and appreciate what we have, including the freedom to bicker with each other about the best way to spend our money. Turn up your Hifi and listen to some music, whether its a Birkin Bag level system or not.
That Euromillions lottery ticket was a winner, by the way…..all 4€10 of it.