Monday, 15 February 2010

If I were a rich man (idle thoughts time)

One question that reverberates around coffee rooms and smoking areas all across the land is 'What would you do if you won the lottery?' For me it's all idle speculation. I have rarely bought a ticket and take little interest in it. Once every few months I'll think 'what the hell' and get a lucky dip, then forget to watch the show and have to rummage round the internet to find the numbers. Which are never mine, so I don't bother again for a few more months.

It's an interesting question though. I'm often asked what kind of car I'd buy. My answer is always 'none'. If I'm that rich I won't need to drive anywhere. I'll get taxis. If I was that rich I doubt I'd spend many days in a fit state to drive anyway.

The other common question is 'Would you give up work?'

The answer, for those who have won, always seems odd to me. Usually, if it's a cleaner or a nightwatchman, they insist on keeping their jobs to keep themselves 'ordinary'. Okay, it makes sense to stay grounded so the sudden riches don't set you off on a spree of yachts you don't know how to sail and planes you can't fly, then end up completely broke. I've never understood how anyone can spend that much, that fast!.

As a friend once pointed out when an office cleaner won millions and kept her job, there is a good case for such people to quit. They don't need that minimum wage any more. Someone else does. Let someone else have the job. Which I thought was a fair point. Still, they are millionaires now so they'll do as they please.

The latest Euromillions (which I have never tried and have no idea how it works) winner runs his own business in property maintenance. His wife is an estate agent. They plan to stop work.

Well, his wife's job will presumably become available to someone else. But what about his business? Are there employees? What happens to them? If he doesn't like it, why did he set up that business? This is the flip-side of the millionaire cleaner story.

It made me think about my own situation and how I would react to being landed with fifty-eight million beer vouchers, tax free, all in one huge bag. What would I do?

I wouldn't stop work. I'd buy premises and turn them into a lab. However, since the government and the council are going to rip me off at every turn, while I'd carry on researching I'd do it for free. I'd only do the stuff I was interested in and I'd just make the results publically available.

With that much money I would have no need of income. The interest alone would put me into the higher tax bracket. The lab would not be 'business premises' because there are no business transactions taking place. It would be a not-for-profit lab. It would pay no tax and would have its floor area carefully regulated to stay within the council tax exemption range.

I'd lay down a huge collection of malt whiskies at today's prices although I'd better fit each vault with a time lock so I can't open them all once I'd been at the first one. I'd also stock up with massive amounts of tobacco and Electrofag at today's prices. If I should ever quit, I'll sell the packs in the pub at half of tomorrow's prices and still make a profit.

Yacht? Don't want one. I hate being on boats. Plane? No chance. I've been in a small plane and it scared the crap out of me. Fast car? Why, what's the hurry? Huge house? With my ability to fill every room with junk in no time at all and effectively unlimited funds, that would be a very bad idea. All I'd need would be a small flat attached to the lab. I couldn't physically spend that much money.

How about a nudie body scanner for visitors? Well, that's tempting. All council snoops will be required to pass through security and since I won't actually have security staff, the scanner will be linked to a webcam. Nothing to hide, nothing to fear, snoops. Oh and I'll have your DNA while you're here too.

Give to charity? Real ones only. RSPCA will not get a penny out of me unless they let me watch them kill, gut, skin, roast and eat a kitten because of the way they do business with donors. I will decide when they've eaten enough kittens to get a donation and they'll get £1 per kitty.

'Dragon's Den'? Nope. I'd only want to hear about really mad ideas and they won't get on that show. I'd be funding antigravity research in someone's shed.

Consider. If you stick £50 million out of that £58 million into savings accounts at today's pathetic 1% return, you'll get £500,000 a year. You'll pay tax on that. A lot of tax. Even so you'll hardly be short of money. Why faff around with investments? Why try to drive your tax bill higher? The only trick worth doing would be to convert a chunk of it into gold blocks when the price is low because you can't be taxed on something until you turn it into cash. There's no real need to hit the base capital at all because the eight million left over is a petty cash pot that would do pretty much everything I could want to do.

It's too much. I don't think I could cope with it. I couldn't get rid of it.

No, if I ever won the lottery I'd want to be one of six winners who split the pot. The press aren't interested in chasing them down. Winning one huge pot is a disaster. Those who do will know no peace because the press will find them and name them and then the begging letters would start.

Then again, it could be a lot of fun answering those.

'Dear Mr. Leg-iron. My mother urgently needs a big wad of cash so she can have surgery to correct a limp. Yours, Graspy McScrounge.'

'Dear Graspy. Here's a tenner. Buy a block of wood and tape it to the shoe that goes on the limping foot. Also buy a Surform and adjust the height of the block until the limp is cured. Please send a photo of the cure so that I can pitch it to the NHS. Trust me, this is the future'.

Sigh. It'll never happen.

Perhaps I'll buy a ticket this week.


moonmadmerv said...

As the late great viv stanshall said,what would you do about the begging letters "Oh i would keep sending them"

Leg-iron said...

Viv Stanshall - hero.

Big Bonzo fan here ;)

Anonymous said...

If I won an enormous sum (which I cannot possibly do since I never enter these lotteries where your chance of winning is utterly miniscule - like getting cancer from passive smoking), I would really enjoy it. I would sue every resercher who tries to suggest that I am a murderer because I enjoy tobacco. I would BUY a private club and establish rules which make the CLUB (not the business aspects or the property) member owned. There would be no bar. Members would be free to bring their own alcohol. I would make the the club, initially, SMOKERS ONLY. After the initial phase, members can decide. I would manage the property and the bar with a company based in Tuvalu, or somewhere. No specific individual would be manager. One way or another, I would find a way around regulations. And I would take any attempt to shut the place down to the highest court in the land.
And if they did get an army of police to break into my private property and close it down, I would open up somewhere else.

Of course, the Gov would offer me a peerage to join the elite. The could get stuffed!

Anonymous said...

£58 Million? My ex could spend that in a week and have a few days left over.


microdave said...

A Surform - You're showing your age again....

And I'm sure I have a copy of "I'm the Urban Spaceman" somewhere.

Anonymous said...

I'd pay an independent scientist to trash the junk science on ETS and a PR company to get the message out....


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