Tarago Diaries #9 – Cream Velveteen

Mark Seymour on conspicuous consumption.

Author:  Mark Seymour.

Date: 8 June 2019.

Original URL: https://www.facebook.com/MarkSeymourOfficial/


Article Text

Melbourne airport. Exit Australia through the border force intel-gateway, up the ramp into bling-land. The mall of mega-brands, Chanel, Emporio Armani, Salvatore Ferragamo. Mirrors and glossy tiles. The waft of Givenchy.

Spandau Ballet playing softly behind the hum.


And there, behind brass-edged window glass, resting on cream velveteen, the centrepiece Rolex watch.

Love a watch.

Hmm. Move in for a closer look. Such a tiny exquisite thing. To be worn on the wrist. Encrusted in whatever.


Knock me sideways. They can’t be serious. Lean on something. Should be a sign attached.

“Hey Dickhead. Don’t even think about coming in here unless you’re worth shit loads.”

Brain churn. Look around. There are people walking the earth right now wearing such a thing. Even here. Right in the airport. It’s incredible.

You wouldn’t have to sell that many though, come to think of it. What with all the foot traffic. Say five a year? It’s gotta be doable. $845,000.00. P.A. Right?

Just look at the goddamn thing. Lying there, not costing them anything. It’s like some kind of holy relic. There’s something unearthly about it.

Like the Shroud of Turin.

It’s the zeroes that get you though. They keep going to the right. Like a CEO’s salary package. Same effect. The sheer grunt factor.

More brain churn. Look through the window. There’s a lady in black behind the counter. Blank faced. Looks bored shitless. What’s she on you reckon? $25 an hour?
So how the hell do you get to where 169 grand doesn’t even touch the sides?

Run an Airline maybe.

Come on. It’s just a watch. Not something you’d prioritize right? You’d buy a car first surely? It’d be a stinker of a thing too. At that price.

A Tesla at least.

Or a house. 169 grand. What does that even get you? That’s ten percent deposit on a 3 bedroom bungalow in, say… Carnegie? Hmmm. Not bad. Comfortable. All the bits. Aspirational air con. Solar. House a family of five.

Or what about four years at an elite private school?

It’s eating at you now. The sheer scale of the thing. How the hell do people even get their heads around it? Surely they don’t actually borrow to pay for stuff like this..

Or do they?

Nah. This is on another level entirely. This is filthy. Woo! I mean. I’m doing alright, but this is off the dial. No pun intended.

Looks like you’ve left your run a bit late pal. Perish the thought.

Should’ve been thinking about money long ago. From the age of thirteen maybe. Instead of dreaming about being Keef at Madison square Garden, ‘cept Keef wouldn’t even blink at this would he?

Wouldn’t be seen dead wearing it either come to think of it, which is even more confusing.

“When I grow up I’m going to manage a hedge fund.”

And don’t even think about poetry. The creative arts?


Be abstemious and boring. Take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves. Dispense with all unnecessary cost. Even the human kind. Friends, lovers, hangers on. Be machine-like. Covet thy neighbour’s dough. Hang round like-minded people. Talk about money a lot. Pick their brains. Knowledge is power.

Start in sales. Buy the bank.

You’ll get plenty of support of course, due to the theory of personal merit, which millions believe in. One day people will admire your determination, your entrepreneurial brilliance. And as if by magic..

Enter ‘the snowball effect’.

Punters will gather ‘round to get a piece of what you have. Success will compound on itself. I scratch your back.. etc.

People will love you because you made it happen all by yourself. What a gun!

Merit. It’s all about you.

Wealth really does find its way into the hands of the best people. That’s kind of how capitalism works right? Aspire. Be a lifter. One day the watch will arrive.
Worn conspicuously on the wrist..

Look at me. I’m loaded.

Still, there’s a niggle. What about all the punters who do bad shit? Cutting corners. Theft, fraud, tax evasion. Why? To get rich. That’s why. Duh. And that’s just the white collar stuff.

Looking back now. It gets worse. History speaks. Land clearances, ethnic cleansing. Colonial invasion. How far back do you wanna go? What about the friggin’ Vikings? There’s no end to it really.

There was coin in all that, right? And think of the effort. All that hard yakka. The planning. Must’ve been a logistical nightmare, organizing all the fire power required.

I mean, you wouldn’t invade another country for fun would you? You’d have to be thinking ahead. Like there must’ve been something just over the next hill you really needed to get your hands on and believed all the while,

you deserved it.

Force was required.

Then, after all the carnage was over, there was the big clean-up. And you had to look the part when you came out the other end. To show it was all honourable and necessary. I mean, you’re only human. You still wanted people to like you afterwards. Love you even.

We all just want to be loved right?

Never a truer word was said.

See, that’s the thing about merit. It’s gotta look good.
Hence the watch. To reinforce the point.

And then one day, there you were, poised, credit card in hand. After all that hard work.

You own the army now. Protecting millions.

Come on. You deserve it. How good are you? Just look at the friggin’ thing. 169 grand. It’s THAT GOOD. Better than all the other watches. Looks good. Is good. So go on.


Damn. It’s still a stretch though. You can’t quite drag yourself to the cliff edge can you?

Confidence deficit. Not enough assets.

Still, it’s a lovely idea this merit thing. Problem is, at any given moment, the earth just isn’t flat. All this time, you’ve had to watch your back.

Such a shame about human nature. Someone was always getting screwed. Sometimes it was you. Sometimes the other guy and always plain old rat-cunning bastardry was at work. And let’s face it, bastardry is invisible. Everyone knows that. That’s how you get away with it.

Until it bleeds. And even then…

Aah, the road to success. It was meant to be one way traffic, for lifters like you, ‘cept it wasn’t. Not all the time anyway. For every move you made, there was always some tool making the counter move. People kept leaning in goddamnit.

Aha! I see it now. That’s what the watch is encrusted with.


Still, if it’s any consolation, there are millions so much further down the food chain, who will never even get on a plane, let alone be seen standing in the middle of an airport drooling at the Rolex window..

Like a dick.

They’re too busy looking for food.