The other day, a friend of mine jokingly asked me whether I would be moving into a big mansion and getting a chauffeur driven car, once my novel is published and I have made a fortune.
For a few minutes we invented a whole new life for me; where my riches enabled me to buy whatever I desired and to do whatever I wished. Then we got tired of that, and the conversation moved on to more mundane things.
But let us say this came to pass, because, you know, things happen. Unexpectedly. What would I want?
I can only listen to one piece of music at a time, no matter how much I may love music.
I can only read one book at a time and, God knows, I have a pile as high as, ooh, this to get through already. I continually try not to buy any more books when I go out. And I continually fail.
I don’t want a flash car. I don’t actually want a car at all, as it happens. I’m stuck with one at the moment, because the work that actually provides me with a tenuous living requires it. If I no longer did that work, I would probably get rid of the car.
A bigger house? No, not really. Perhaps one further out of town, though.
There is travel, of course. More trips to India and Nepal, for a start. But again, time is not infinite, and there would be a limit to how many different places I could go. Would I stay in luxury hotels, then? No. I have no desire to do that. Fly first class? That is probably the one thing I would do. I am tall, and the leg-room on most flights is a little mean even for children. And then my back causes me so much pain at the best of times that any long-haul flight is extremely uncomfortable.
We all use language carelessly at times. What do I mean by rich? Well, possibly something different to what you would mean, then again, possibly not. For some people, the idea of being rich means having virtually unlimited money so that they can buy every conceivable luxury. For others, it simply means not having to worry about whether they can make ends meet in day to day life, and that is the category that I fall into.
I have known people who earn heady amounts of money yet do not consider themselves rich, because they find it too easy to spend it almost as fast as they earn it. I have known others who would consider themselves rich if they came into a very modest windfall.
Today, in the affluent western world at least, the vast majority of us are rich, although we don’t recognise it. Why? Modern advertising is insidious and relentless and companies spend billions of pounds each year persuading us all that we cannot live without their products, that we all have a right to them and that we want (and deserve) them.
And that we want them now.
This has meant that luxury fripperies have come to be seen as necessities.
Audiences watching TV programs, or walking down their high streets, or opening magazines, are constantly bombarded with an unending stream of images of luxury goods that they are told are rightfully theirs, and which are paraded by their football or ‘reality’ TV heroes.
What these advertisers don’t want us to see is that the trash they are pushing is unnecessary and does nothing to enrich our lives.
Now, where was I?
Oh yes, I just have to nip out for a loaf of bread.
Of course, it has to be an artisan-crafted Estonian cob loaf made with organic Bulgar wheat flour milled under a full moon and leavened with yeasts descended from the very yeasts used by the court baker of Peter the Great of Russia and baked for thirty seven and a quarter minutes in a bread oven fired with birch logs and scented with juniper and a teaspoonful of fuller’s earth.
It will be damned expensive, but I DESERVE IT AND I WANT IT NOW.