Aspiration. It’s everywhere. Its influence is most felt not in film or advertising, but in the pages of the Guardian – a newspaper that peddles a lifestyle enjoyed by maybe 10% of its readers. Let’s take a look here: the beauty section enthuses about the Clarisonic Plus, which is like a “sonic toothbrush for the skin”. It’s £179. We should also spend £800 on a shelf, £245 on a sweater, and book the next flight to Uzebekistan where you and your partner can stay for 11 nights for the paltry sum of £2640. Which is all very well if you’re on 50 grand a year and feeling frivolous – but, sweetie, you’re not. You are, statistically, a marketing assistant selling insurance earning £24k (OTE) and each and every time you spend £245 on a horrible sweater it’s £245 further away you’ll be from ever owning your own home or paying off your student loan or joining the Real World where grown ups think that kind of frivolity is frankly rather stupid. The Times is worse, breezily discussing botox and Brazilian waxes as if sticking botulinum toxin into your face and ripping out your pubic hair by the roots is something any sane human being would do.
It’s like those airbrushed photos of emaciated coked-up teenagers that passes for fashion these days: it’s so long since you’ve seen “normal” that you forget what normal is, and then when you see it, it’s strange and fascinating and wonderful. For those of us for whom the airbrushed world of Friends is as alien as the ghoulish voyeurism of a Ken Loach movie, Ricky Gervais’s The Office was a welcome aspiration-free snapshot of our lives as they actually are. Simon Pegg has done such an accurate job of demonstrating everyday Britishness that he’s made quite an extraordinary career for himself. And here he is, aspiring.