Our obsession with league tables knows no bounds – it is the way human beings put the world in order, the way we make sense of it all.
We celebrate wildly when our team finishes top of a table and drown our sorrows if it finishes at the bottom of one. They are the reason why Manchester City fans have a spring in their step this week and the explanation why their United counterparts have not.
Then there are the other league tables, the ones by which we measure the performance of vital services such as education, crime and health – the ones which are crucially important if you are top of the pile or woefully out of context if you are way off the pace. And it seems we can no longer live our lives unless we know what are the top 10 family saloon cars, the best half dozen brands of disposable nappies and which three C-list celebrities are deemed to have the finest parenting skills.
Such polls and mini leagues are a bit of fun, something which keep workers tittering as they devour their crispy chicken wraps during their truncated lunchbreaks. But there is one league table which it is highly unlikely we will ever appear on, yet despite its irrelevance to our every day lives it is almost essential reading for the 21st Century Briton, it is of course the Rich List.
By no means new, the Rich List is as much a part of British life as Yorkshire pud and inane conversation about the weather. Revealing how much one is worth is inherently un-British as it is against all of our instincts to discuss our bank balance or house price, but it doesn’t stop us from having a nose at how the other half live.
Ahead of this weekend’s publication of the 2014 list, we have been informed London is now home to more billionaires than anywhere else in the world as though it were a source of national pride. Those who celebrate such a statistic will do well to remember the majority of those who rank highly in this particular table are foreigners, drawn to these shores not by a love of the Queen and our great pubs but by the promise of tax breaks.
We may live in an age where we feel the need to rank every aspect of our lives in a uniform fashion but this particular list is a table which isn’t worth cheering about.