Flat White, Berwick Street

What three words would you use to describe what troubled you during your adolescence?

Pressure, wealth, and maturity.

Were your family well-off?

Oh yeah, hugely. I grew up in a house in an infamously expensive part of central London. I had a boater hat at school, what more do you need?

Do you remember being aware of your family’s wealth?

Umm... it’s hard to remember. There was this day when I was about 10 when I asked my mum about beggars and why she never gave them anything, and she sat me down and gave me this speech about having money and the responsibility we had to maintain it or something like that. That was my Tory birds-and-bees talk. Money was a taboo subject though from what I remember - and I don’t remember a whole lot from my childhood before turning 12 to be honest.

Were you ever embarrassed by being born into wealth?

(Sighs) Wow… Now I am. Back then no. I suppose I was unaware to an extent. Like of course I knew we had money, but so did everyone else around me. My whole childhood I went to one of the wealthiest schools, where no one was bullied for being poor because no one was. People were bullied for being ultra rich or having famous parents. There was this boy I went to school with - we were friends in fact - and when we were maybe 8 or 9 or 10 he was crying on my shoulder going “I just want my parents to be normal.” By “normal” he meant like my parents, who in the grand scheme of things were far from normal.

So at what point did you realise that?

That my parents weren’t normal? Gosh, we’re getting into the nitty gritty straight away. After my dad died talking about money became more common because of wills and inheritance and things like that. I still don’t know the whole situation because I was only 13/14 at the time, but it took over our family dynamic. All our conversations had this elephant in the room, which was our family’s inheritance.

Were you close with your dad?

Nah, not at all. He worked abroad most of the time so I hardly knew him personally. It’s cold to say this but… I don’t know, his death didn’t change much for me. I remember being devastated at the thought of never having the chance to talk with him when I became an adult, but in terms of sadness because of loss there was very little, you know what I mean? He wasn’t a big part of my day-to-day life.

Were the rest of your family more affected emotionally?

Yeah. My mum and older brothers are tight-lipped people and so that’s one of the few times I remember seeing them cry. And maybe I have this wrong - because again, I was quite young - but in my memory straight after the funeral all emotion just cut off, like it was time for business. I promise my family wasn’t like Succession.

(Chuckles) No fights for the inheritance of the family business?

Not fights, but heated conversations over the money. I honestly still don’t completely understand what it was all about. What I do know is that my mum hasn’t worked for decades and she lives a life of luxury to this day. I love her but I’d hate her if I met her. (Chuckles) She’s that woman who’s on a first name basis with the Prada staff. Going back to your question earlier about being embarrassed about wealth, nowadays I am when we’re walking around together. Heck, she’s just the worst and she knows it, and to be fair to her she owns it.

In the kindest way possible, you’re-

I seem poor? Yeah I’m aware, and it’s not purposeful or planned. It sounds strange but my whole financial identity is delicate; I was born into money, and I’ll eventually receive the money when my mum dies, but for now I’m cruising through life on a minimum wage job at a cafe. I’m aware I’m privileged, and people can say “oh, you don’t need to worry about money”, but I constantly do, and I can’t retaliate because I know my worries aren’t valid. How can I complain when I have everything handed to me on a plate?

When you chose “pressure” as a word to describe your childhood, was that connected to money?

Not really, no. I think the pressure was normal, like everyone has pressure to do well in school from their parents and teachers. I can’t say much on that topic that’s unique. It was something that bothered me though all through adolescence but I think you’d struggle to find someone who it didn’t bother, you know?

Did your family verbally give you pressure in terms of grades and education?

Yeah, completely. It was done in the form of comparison to my brothers. I think it was evil, but it worked so maybe my mum was onto something.

Do you still feel a bit compared to them?

I’m not but I still feel like it, yeah.

In terms of life goals?

I subconsciously measure myself to what they were doing at my age. I’ll give you an example. One of them just got engaged, and I know that when I reach the age he is now I’m going to feel behind if I’m not engaged too. Does that make sense?

And you think that started from being compared at school?

It’s difficult to say, but it didn’t help.

Is that also connected to the word “maturity”?

Maturity is a whole separate issue. I was always behind. I’m not too smart and I wasn’t a hard worker either. It sounds like I’m still talking about grades, and partially that is true, but what I really mean is social maturity. Being called a “crybaby” was an ongoing issue at school for as long as I can remember, as in ages 4 to 16. I didn’t inherit that stiff upper lip the rest of my family have. But then again, I can’t complain because I’m inheriting more important things from them.

Finally, what would be the soundtrack to your childhood?

The Winner Takes It All - Abba

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