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John, Paul, George or Ringo? No way


US vice-president Joe Biden

US vice-president Joe Biden

US vice-president Joe Biden

I am not great at those "What would you buy if you won the Lotto?" discussions. Partly because they are academic. I waste money on the lottery about once a year. If that. I see it as a particularly sneaky tax and we pay enough tax already. I am also the sort of curmudgeon who thinks winning vast millions is immoral and bad for us. I am always happier when a syndicate wins as I can see it as a bit of weekly fun with workmates and the obscene amount is diluted. In any case, if you are not in you can't win, so I will not be having one of those Ferrari vs house extension conversations with myself.

Like most people I have got my desires reasonably in tune with my money over the years. This means that while another 10pc would be great, and a good year that produced an extra 50pc would be brilliant, I do not spend much energy coveting mansions by the sea, supercars, supermodels or yachts. I am aware that yachts and supercars are magnets for undesirable women but I know enough of them already.

US vice president Joe Biden said: "Show me your budget and I will show you your values." The more I think of that sentence the more I realise how insightful it is. We all know the "I would do anything for the children" people. Some of their budget is for 60 fags a day. It tells a lot.

When I was in college I lived on a limited budget and worked nights in a petrol station. My father gave me a fixed weekly amount, but with one variable. He put no limit on what I spent on books. All I had to do was keep the receipts and he paid it without question. They didn't have to be anything to do with my course. Just books. And while I didn't realise it at the time it said a lot about what he valued. He wasn't a great reader himself. But he saw the doors it would open for me.

When I have a few bob to spare I have nearly always bought a picture by Irish artists I like. Just things I like and can afford. I have never bought as an investment - which is just as well. There are a few painters I like who let me pay on the drip which is handy when you like a picture the same month as the car insurance is due.

I recently came across an Israeli sculptor called Dorit Levinstein who paints wonderful brass sculptures in vivid enamels. She did one of The Beatles crossing Abbey Road and I have never wanted anything as much. €60,000. Forget it. A particularly annoying friend asked me which Beatle I would buy if I could afford one. That wrecked my head. Levinstein has also sculpted Amy Winehouse, lots of animals, Britain's Queen Elizabeth, and a wonderful Charlie Chaplin which I will buy for Brendan O'Carroll when I finally get rich.

Maybe Dorit will let me pay over 15 years. It is either that or the dreaded lottery.

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