What is luxury - Nick Eardley
Nick Eardley is a journalist and policial correspondent for BBC Scotland. He splits his time between London and Edinburgh. Nick guest blogs for us on what luxury means to him...
Sometimes, when I’m thinking about spending a lot of money on clothes, I call my mum. It’s not because I need a second opinion or advice about what goes with what. It’s because I need someone to help me justify spending the money.
When I was growing up, luxurious items were something special. And that’s still how I view material items. When buying a new suit, shoes or phone; I like someone to tell me whether or not I’m being too self-indulgent. More often than not, that falls to my mum.
But when I think of what feels luxurious in my life, material possessions don’t top the list. Yes, I love a nice suit. I adore my favourite shoes. But - and I suspect I might be using a different definition of luxury from some here - the things that feel really special are quite different.
Luxury isn’t something I’ve thought about in any serious way until I was asked to write this piece. But it seems pretty obvious to me, now that I do, that it’s a relative thing. Luxury is something that you feel lucky to have - and that experience will be different depending on what you’ve been through and what you value. The things I consider luxuries are the things that make me feel like I’m fortunate at this stage in my life.
The first luxury is my job. Or certain elements of it.
We live in a world where simply being a journalist can be extremely dangerous; in some parts of the world, doing what I do every day, questioning politicians and holding them to account, can land you in jail. We also live in a country where the industry is changing rapidly - and in cases becoming much harder, as fewer people do more work. I feel extremely lucky to have the support of my bosses to pursue and report stories as I see fit. I feel lucky to live in a country where, whatever stick you get for your line of questioning, giving politicians a hard time is an important part of a journalist’s job. This is an historic time in politics. So to be in a job I love feels like a luxury.
That’s the serious one.
The second is the opposite; downtime. I work in an industry where a 24 hour news cycle - being on the ball all the time; on the phone, on social media, on air - is increasingly important. I also spend most of my time in London, with its overwhelming rush hours, packed tube trains and relentless noise. So having the ability to switch off from it all at the weekend is something I value greatly.
It sounds remarkably simple; spending a weekend chilling out and not going anywhere near one of London’s busy thoroughfares (honestly, they’re everywhere). But not everyone has the luxury of living in part of the city where that’s possible, or being able to put commitments on hold and take some down time. And in the modern world, it feels like a luxury.
The third is similar, but something I value specifically; having time to read and getting my hands on a good book or magazine. For years, I read a bit, but not much. Now, I try and find a few hours every week to read a novel and the magazine I’ve recently become obsessed with; the New Yorker. Books are a way of entering a different world and immersing yourself in it. Reading an American magazine is a way of reading about politics, something I love, without thinking about how it will impact my own reports. Both are forms of escapism from normal life, and that makes them luxuries in my book.
Fourthly; being able to spend time exploring parts of the UK’s incredible cultural scene. There are two cities I call home; Edinburgh (home home) and London (current home). Both are host to some of the best festivals, theatres and galleries in the world. I’ve seen three plays in the past twelve months, which made me feel lucky (Rhinoceros in Edinburgh, Ink and Labour of Love in London). Lucky to get a ticket, and lucky to have seen such amazing productions. That’s also the way I feel when I leave a gig or an exhibition I’ve really enjoyed. Being able to experience that is one of the best forms of luxury I can think of.
It’s quite possible I don’t consider possessions the most obvious luxuries in my life because... well, I have them. Again, it’s relative. If I didn’t have a steady job; buying a new jacket, or owning a nice suit or fancy pair of shoes would perhaps feel a lot more luxurious. But I like to think it’s about more than that too. Sometimes the best things in life - and the ones that feel really special - are experiences, like going to see an amazing film or play. Likewise, they may seem simple, but are actually so important and often rare, like taking a weekend off.
Also, it’s a nightmare to get my mum on the phone these days, so I don’t buy as much as I used to.
Follow Nick on Twitter @nickeardleybbc