The eponymous ‘Yellow Brick Road’ is meant to symbolise the pursuit of wealth, the Munchkins representing the gullible “little people” – that’s us – and the Wizard the glamorous and powerful façade, but ultimate human weakness, of what we have come to know today as ‘The 1%’.
It all kind of makes sense really. A regular, unassuming, country girl is whisked up from the doldrums into this world of fantasy where power seems to be directly related to how much of a twat you can be. The Wicked Witch of the West is the perfect example. If only she’d trained her flying monkey army to plant trees and sow seeds rather than to swoop arbitrarily around, unashamedly fucking up other people’s shit in her relentless pursuit for power.
The poignancy of this allegory struck me all of a sudden as I travelled one day into London for a (rare) freelance job. As soon as I broke that M25 barrier it’s as if a spell fell silently upon me. I know deep down that all those unavoidably impressive skyscrapers represent something I truly despise, and yet… I find myself suddenly in awe.
I can feel the neurons in my brain flooding my mind with dopamine, desperately telling me that this is the centre of the world and that this is where I’m meant to be. Where I can truly be someone.
I spend the whole day under this spell, in this system, and at 6pm with everyone else I more than revel in the ultimate reward and release of a few pints with my fellow screen servants at some chiselled, trendy, overtly masculine drinkery that’s been carved into the underside of a railway bridge for added hipster effect.
Crowded tables throughout the city host a thousand tea parties; a thousand Mad Hatters, March Hares and Cheshire Cats, whipped into hysteria with glutinous delight. And there sits Alice – or maybe Alex in this case – bewildered, aghast, but enjoying the hospitality as much as anybody else.
But at the station, waiting for the train back home, the spell begins to break. And as the Emerald City fades into the background, I start to notice the frayed edges of war-painted businesswomen, their faces melting just like the Wicked Witch herself.
The unadulterated bravado of the men in suits becomes suddenly and painfully desperate in light of their inebriated malaise. They’ve felt like they could be the Great Wizard himself. But in reality, they’re not even the man behind the curtain – they’re barely the levers and cogs of his dastardly contraption.
Kansas appears upon the horizon and I turn my thoughts inward. What exactly have I done today? I got up at six in the morning to commute a four hour round trip just to facilitate this crooked corporate system… why did this make me feel so good?
I suppose there’s only one possible explanation. He must truly be the most powerful Wizard the world has ever seen.