Discussing money, openly comparing wealth, talking about how much things cost – these were all traditionally taboo areas in British society.
But things are changing. At dinner parties across the country, civilised people are comparing their house prices, marvelling at the cost of each other's cars and revealing their bonuses and salaries. Where once an overdraft was a dirty little secret between us and our bank manager, now we discuss our debts shamelessly. We live in the Age of Information, with transparency as the new buzzword, right down to the see-through pay packets and credit cards colour-coded as to the bearer's wealth.
Somewhere along the way, we've forgotten the reasons why discussing money never used to be the done thing; so let's slow down for a minute and consider. We still live in a world of economical imbalance - there will always be Joneses to keep up with. So is it not a better, friendlier approach to keep such inequality as under wraps as possible?
Bragging about one's bonus is a transparent, and primitive, bid for supremacy: it just heightens the difference between your financial situation and that of the person you are talking to. Complaining about shortage of money all too soon tips into Micawber-like wheedling, guaranteed to make the people around you feel guilty.
Money is the oil that greases the wheels of society but oil is filthy sticky stuff and we should clean our hands of it before coming out in polite society.