Tamara Ecclestone has harmed her two-year-old in more ways than one with that £10,000 playhouse
I hate to be a sandcastle-kicking killjoy, but isn’t there something just slightly excessive about Tamara Ecclestone’s daughter’s £10,000 playhouse?
Maybe it’s the fact that it looks about the same size as my rented London flat. Maybe it’s that the accompanying picture in Hello! magazine features two-year-old Sophia posed in sunglasses on a miniature sofa just outside the tiny house, looking to all purposes like a feudal lord surveying his land. Maybe it’s that the toy is an exact replica of the 57-room, £70m family home she lives in with her super-wealthy parents. Or maybe it’s because, as I write this, the weather’s turned bad again. But something about the whole thing bothers me.
If you needed a hyper-visual representation of how inequality in this country is sustained, this is it: the 31-year-old daughter of a billionaire standing outside her own multi-million pound mansion, with a backyard that boasts an exact replica for her two-year-old child.
This is the housing crisis wrapped up in a glamorous bow and sold back to you in the pages of a gossip magazine. Now the rich are so rich they get miniature versions of their own houses commissioned in the garden.
I thought we’d reached peak playhouse last year when Prince George tottered into his £18,000 mini mansion, a gift from the Dorset-based company Plankbridge. But even the royals didn’t have the audacity to have a shrunken-down version of their own palace plonked down in the grass for their toddler to practice being privileged in.
The saddest part of the whole affair is the fact that it cannot be for Sophia’s benefit; kids neither know nor care how much their toys cost. My mother saved up for weeks to buy me birthday presents when I was a child, and instead I spent the best part of six years dragging around a dead stoat she’d been left by a mad aunt which, to add insult to injury, I insisted on naming Hemp.
Did I pick up a Barbie doll? Did I show any interest in Polly Pocket, a set of My Little Ponies or a lovingly compiled dressing-up box? Did I hell. Hemp the dead stoat was my favourite toy, and I was going to take him to nursery wrapped in an old yellow rag whether it was social suicide for my mother or not.
I refuse to believe that Sophia, darling offspring of Tamara Ecclestone, is a squeaky clean two-year-old who only shows an interest in designer sunglasses, adorable mini furniture and eye-wateringly expensive playhouses. I bet she has a Hemp equivalent, but I don’t expect her to be seen hauling around a battered old blanket or a mangled animal carcass anytime soon (unless perhaps it’s the spoils of a hunting trip.)
She’ll be too busy acting as a status symbol for her wealthy parents, stifled by unimaginative interpretations of cuteness that have little to do with the creativity of youth and everything to do with the cameras. See also: Kanye West and Kim Kardashian’s daughter North West’s $2m designer wardrobe (like Sophia, she’s two years old.)
Babies used to be allowed their babyhood. Even aristocrats would just palm them off on a nanny for three years or so until they stopped projectile vomiting at the drop of a hat. These days they’re merely absorbed into a ‘have it all and Instagram it’ culture which demands polished perfection from everyone, even if they’re not yet out of nappies.
It’s a crushing reality, one which demands no deviation, no risk-taking and no socially questionable behaviour. In other words, very little invention or originality at all. Very little, in fact, of what it means to be a child.
It’s a shame, because the children of the super-rich are the ones we need most go to grow up with a keen imagination. They could use them in adulthood to conjure up a mental image of what society could look like if the offspring of the elite weren’t the only ones to benefit from tax breaks and economic stability. Take away the playhouses with true-to-life replica rooms, and give them a cardboard box or a crude, mashed-together monstrosity their dad knocked up in the garage one Saturday, and they might start thinking artistically.
I’m not saying the Dead Stoat Solution is for everyone, but surely letting your mind wander shouldn’t be the only privilege that is reserved for the poor.