There was a pretty sad tale in one of the local papers recently, telling the story of a local lottery winner who won over ?10m but who is now ?2m in debt, facing bankruptcy and who only remains in his home due to the fact his wife's name is also on the property.
When I first visited here over a decade ago this guy was a big story. People knew his name, friends of mine used to tease someone who had previously gone out with him about what might have been, and tales abounded about his lifestyle. I especially remember the rumour that he had to spend ?6,000 a week otherwise he would be "hammered by the taxman". No-one admitted it, but you could feel the jealousy seeping through other people's pores.
I think most people are under the impression that winning the lottery (or receiving any kind of windfall) is a sure-fire path to happiness. Handled correctly I'm sure it's helpful, but it doesn't guarantee happiness. In one of my Dad's shrewder moments he commented, "Money can't buy happiness, but it certainly buys a better form of misery." (I don't know for definite, but I think my Dad's better form of misery is spelt with the letters B and H, alongside the number 20.)
I keep a list of things I'd like to buy. It's not fanciful by any means, it's pretty much all affordable items, bar a few items I list under the heading "Yeah, I can see this happening". The total number of items on the list? Twenty-six at this moment in time. Obviously if I won the lottery those items would be snapped up, pretty much instantly. Would I be contented with that? I'm not naive about how I'm just like everyone else in always wanting more. In the words of The Beautiful South:
"Because there's always someone with a bigger car,
There's always someone with a bigger cigar.
If you've been far,
There's always someone who's been further than your far."
I'm not one of those people who would struggle to find something to do with my spare time if I had the money not to work, and I don't just mean tidying up my office (yes, dear, I know it needs to be done again, I've NOT forgotten). More travelling would definitely be something I'd like to do, as I thought I'd done quite a bit until a friend introduced me to the I've Been Here application on Facebook, where I've left vast swathes of the world uncoloured (I blame my wife and mother for taking me to places like Tenerife and Hong Kong, which are now miniscule blue dots on my world map).
The problem with travelling is as you get older so it becomes more complicated. In a few years we'll have a child at school. Even if we only have one child there will be an education, then a young adult life that I know we won't want to miss. And that's just one complication, you're not even talking about other family members, and of course friends and events in their lives.
And then there are the problems that money causes. I've seen it in my own family with senior family members, and also with my in-laws, where one of Lorraine's cousins fawns over an unpleasant single Aunt, who - surprise, surprise - has no partner and no dependents. Maybe I'm just too cynical, but I question the motivation behind such actions. Personally it doesn't interest me, I'd sooner be true to myself than pick up any kind of dirty cash.
(Speaking of Dirty Cash, does anyone else remember the song by The Adventures of Stevie V? Okay, that'll just be me then.)
Of course there's one very significant problem in regard to speculating what I would do if I won the lottery, and that's the matter that I'm never going to win it. I'm not being negative in saying that, it's just a simple fact because if you don't play you can't win, and I won't play. Like my Mum suggested, it's a tax on the poor.
So unless I'm the beneficiary of an unlikely windfall I won't know what it is like to be super rich, and maybe that isn't such a bad thing. Okay, I'm not likely to visit every one of the mainland American states, and reaching my goal of seeing Palace at fifty different grounds will take me longer than I'd like, but I'm doing okay. For the most part I'm pretty happy, and when you've read stories of lottery winners fighting illness, criminal tendencies and even succumbing to financial turmoil then you're reminded again that while money can be nice, it certainly isn't everything.
In saying that if you've got a spare million, please feel free to push it in my direction. I'm not that proud.
Have a good week!