“If I became seriously wealthy overnight, there really isn't anything I'd want,” said the economist.
“Nothing?! You sure?” I asked, not a little flabbergasted. Everyone wants something. I want a new face.
“Yes, nothing. Well ... I'd like two Siamese cats. Or maybe, if I was really pushing the boat out, three.”
I think the economist might be losing his mind. Just yesterday I caught him in the kitchen, heavily-bearded, hunched over a can of cold baked beans wearing only his boxers. He mumbled something about “antidote to all this fancy muck” but it looked like something out of The Road. As for cats, 'pedigree feline breeder' has long been on his retirement bucket list. Whatever his state of mental decline, one thing's for sure, cat pee looms large in our old age.
“What can I say? I like cats.”
Sighing like a consumptive heroine, I retreated into one of my favourite fantasies: Hot Widow – all the possessions with none of the mess.
Truth is I often inhabit a fantasy world, drifting away from the harsher realities of a life in Maitland Street surrounded by the toothless poor, into dreams of winning Lotto (the odds of this happening would dramatically increase if I ever bought a ticket) or somehow coming into untold riches – a freak inheritance from a forgotten relative, perhaps. Not terribly likely. My family are Irish Catholics. They never have any money left to leave, having spent their feckless lives wasting every penny in a riot of fun. The economist (Scots Presbyterian, a people not convinced 'can't take it with you' is factually correct) is careful with money, but at the same time a bit shambolic. This is a man who, in the midst of getting divorced, spent a whole day rushing round various banks, asking if he had accounts with them. “I had an idea it was red.”
Blow him down, he did. “Completely forgot about it.” I could NEVER forget my bank. They keep sending me nasty letters.
Quite frankly, money is wasted on the moneyed, usually men, who invariably use it to buy sports cars, bimbos and hairplugs. Give moi some limitless cash-in-hand, I'd show 'em. To quote the immortal words of Swedish philosophers, Abba: “Aaaaahhhhaaaahhha. All the things I could do, if I had a little money.”
Lets say for instance, that my new book Kindness and Lies (RRP$29.99, available everywhere good books are sold) becomes an international bestseller and I go all JK Rowling. Fall into a sickening amount of loot, enough that I no longer need to work again. Ever. Waking tomorrow one of what American sports columnist Bill Simmons calls the 'pajama rich' (so loaded they could go to a 5-star restaurant in their PJs and nobody would raise an eyebrow), there's no doubt my entire philosophy of money would change. Go from 'got none, need some' to a blithe disregard for the folding stuff. “Never mind the Renoir,” I'd say to the devastated parents of sticky-fingered children. “Always get another.”
If I went totally Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous – as opposed to poor and dangerous – complete with a luxury yacht and Robin Leach voice-over, I'd never cook again. My cooking sucks. I'd never paint the house again either, do the weeding, or clean hair out of the shower drain. I'd have staff. Spend my days fanned with a brick, lounging on a chaise eating grapes, while being painted by Gustav Klimt. Strangely, a striking number of billionaires get totally depressed. Sunk in the doldrums of sudden success, as therapist Manfred Kets de Vries put it in an interview with The Telegraph, “The victim sinks into a kind of inertia.” Victim? Go ahead, victimize me, money. Make my day.
What I wouldn't do: take champagne baths (sounds revoltingly sticky), wear ridiculously expensive yet hideously unflattering designer clothes, buy a sports team or tell people what to do with their cats (even though I'd quite like to). Instead, I'd take a leaf out of the book of the coolest overnight millionaire ever, Elvis Presley, who celebrated his meteoric rags to riches rise by buying random strangers Cadillacs. This isn't sustainable in today's green economy. Me, I'd give people quality footwear.
Money can't buy you happiness, apparently. But it can buy a hell of a lot of Kathryn Wilson shoes. Shoes for everybody! Obviously I'm not planning on being rich for very long.