The thing is though; I am not even sure what I would do if I actually won the several million quid on offer. Part of me wonders if the real joy isn’t in the planning and dreaming. My friend and I spend hours over lattes and cakes; drawing up our plans for our dream cafe should we ever win. We have been fantasising about our cafe for as long as I can remember. The only thing holding us back is that neither of us has any money and, barring a lottery win, is ever likely to have any.
Sometimes reality temporarily invades our little fantasy, she has young children to consider and I fear that maybe I wouldn’t be cut out for a cafe. In one of my novels, Dare To Lose, the protagonist, Nicola Mills, pursues her dream of owning a cafe and, frankly, it was exhausting. As I lived through Nicola’s day, constantly cooking and cleaning, I have to say the bubble did, if not burst, then definitely deflated a little bit. There’s also the minor detail that I can’t cook. I once knew how to make scones and a custard tart but that was in 1976, courtesy of Miss Wolff my Home Economics teacher at school, who sadly came to despair of me. I’ve never made anything since except the odd sandwich or beans on toast at a stretch.
My friend though is a fabulous cook and I sort of envisage her doing the cooking while I swan about, collecting crockery and chatting with our lovely customers. And therein lies the other problem, I would have to operate a zero tolerance entrance policy. Only nice people would be allowed into our cafe. I don’t care what the law says, if I don’t like the look of someone they are not coming in. Maybe I could devise some sort of test for people to take at the door just to ensure that they wouldn’t offend my sensibilities with their behaviour and opinions.
I suppose if I won several million pounds, we wouldn’t have to worry about silly things like profit margins and, becoming embroiled in the odd law suit with would be disgruntled customers, wouldn’t matter a jot. I would quite enjoy representing myself in court and explaining why I discriminate against loud, bigoted, complaining, whiny, dull people who can’t control their own children. We would also be able to afford to pursue our other interests although, if my time as a cafe proprietor via Nicola is anything to go by, there’s barely enough time in a day. Obviously we would have to hire someone to take over when we wanted to go off living out our other fantasies.
My cafe friend is the same friend who I travelled to America and shared an apartment with in the early 80s, when we both studied at the same university in Texas. Our lives have been enmeshed ever since and, although life has taken us in different directions, it seems inconceivable that we wouldn’t be part of each other’s lives. Anyway, another of our lottery fantasies is to drive around the USA recreating our youth. I imagine us in one of those, oh so very American, convertible cars although obviously given my driving phobia my friend would have to do all of the driving.
A little bit like the cafe fantasy though, a part of me wonders if the reality could ever live up to the dream. I have never been back to Texas since 1984 and it will have inevitably changed immeasurably in that time. What if we went back and it spoiled our memories of what was a glorious, life changing experience. A similar dilemma occurred when I visited New York recently after a gap of many years. The city was unrecognizable and I have to confess that the safer, cleaner version had lost some of its charm. Or maybe it’s just that the version which we remember becomes an entity in its own right and so is impossible to ever live up to.
My friend also has the idea that, when we have our lottery win, we should book ourselves straight into an exclusive health spa and whip ourselves into physical perfection before we can even pick up our cheque. I suspect my friend is in denial, however. A few years ago, we actually spent a week in a moderately priced health spa with the hope of ridding ourselves of our Christmas blubber. I think my friend has conveniently forgotten how the whole experience wasn’t unlike being interned at Tenko. Thank
God we had the foresight to smuggle in a bottle of gin otherwise I think I would have suffered a complete meltdown. The spa was set in a picturesque estate by a beautiful lake with lots of land but surely there is only so much cycling and walking you can do. Indoor activities involved endless yoga, relaxation and visualisation exercises, which ultimately left me stressed to the hilt.
And don’t even get me started on the food. There was not a dessert in sight, I had to endure a serious case of sugar and coffee withdrawal simultaneously and it wasn’t pretty. My overriding memory of the whole experience is my friend driving away from the place like a lunatic as we sought out the nearest service station. Neither one of us spoke for a good fifteen minutes as we gorged on as much chocolate as was humanly possible. To this day I can’t eat a Twix without thinking of that place. I fear my friend has buried the true horror of our experience deep within her psyche or surely she would never choose to repeat it. In my opinion, our millions would be much better spent buying Willy Wonka’s entire factory.
It seems to me then that the pleasure of money is not in the possession of it but in the idea of it. You have to wonder what millionaires fantasise about. Do they even have fantasies given that they can pretty much realise any dreams they may have? Maybe that’s why so many celebrities are constantly in rehab and depressed because just maybe it’s the planning and dreaming that actually gets us out of bed in the morning.