What lies beyond?

‘Lord Mandelson is “beyond anger”‘, says Jackie Ashley in today’s Guardian, ‘which must be quite a sight.’ It reminds me of the sign over the cosmetics section in Harvey Nichols, which reads ‘Beyond Beauty’. For those who can pay Harvey Nichols prices (we only went in for a cup of tea, since that at least was affordable), it seems that mere beauty must be too plain, too common, too readily bought at counters of mere High Street stores. ‘The quest for healthy skin is on going,’ they say. ‘On going’ where? What lies beyond beauty: the ineffable? Or ugliness? Perhaps only the very rich know, for truly they live in another country.

And where do we imagine Lord Mandelson to be in his ‘beyond anger’ state? Is he crouched under his Lord-High-Everything desk in whimpering despair? Is he going through the roof in an ecstasy of rage? Or has he attained that blessed calm that comes from knowing it’s not worth it? A page earlier in today’s paper, Madeleine Bunting extols the virtues of ‘such counter-cultural values as humility, patience and contentment’. Rubies beyond price, though I didn’t see them on the shelves of Harvey Nichols.