How Much Do You Earn?

I mean, really!

Philip Ogley
E³ — Entertain Enlighten Empower
4 min readJun 4, 2024


A man with banknotes in his hand
(Wiki Comms)

Growing up in a middle-class household in the 1980s, money was a regular topic of conversation. Whenever my parents had people over for dinner, it would be all about what car they drove; how many holidays they had; how much money they earned.

I remember listening to the conversations, wondering, is this what adults talk about? Is this what happens when you get older?

My parents were obsessed with what other people earned. And I had this vision of them rushing upstairs after dinner to my father’s office to compile league tables of all their friends’ earnings. Then vowing to do better!

My father had done well for himself. By 30 he was a production manager of a large textile factory in Wakefield, West Yorkshire (UK). He had married my mum, one of the company’s secretaries, and bought a nice house in Leeds, where I grew up.

Yet he still got disenchanted when he discovered that so-and-so was earning more than he was. ‘How could that be!’ he would cry out. Then try to find an explanation as to how Mike Dobbs was earning twice what he was.

My father couldn’t accept his lot. As though he had been wrong-footed by his friends, and had ended up on the other side of where he should have been.