Sunday 8 December 2019

Brendan O'Connor: 'The 175 million euro question'

'They had experts on the radio explaining that history shows the money wouldn't make us happy. But, of course, each one of us, in the privacy of our own heads, knew that we were the one person in the world who could buck that trend'. Stock image.
'They had experts on the radio explaining that history shows the money wouldn't make us happy. But, of course, each one of us, in the privacy of our own heads, knew that we were the one person in the world who could buck that trend'. Stock image.
Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

Much was made of the fact that the no-confidence motion against Simon Harris last Wednesday didn't matter a damn, because the vote wasn't going to go against him. But that's not the real reason why it didn't matter.

It didn't matter because last Wednesday only one thing mattered. Brexit, Trump, the Children's Hospital - none of this mattered. We realised that these were only mere trifles, things we pretended to care about in the absence of something truly important to think about. And last Wednesday we got that.

So with furrowed brows we walked around concentrating intensely on working out the details what we would do if we won €175m and were suddenly as rich as Karl Lagerfeld's cat. It was harder than we thought. Indeed, the more you went into it in your head the more complicated it got.

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Of course they had experts on the radio explaining that history shows the money wouldn't make us happy. But, of course, each one of us, in the privacy of our own heads, knew that we were the one person in the world who could buck that trend.

It would work for us. We would be the exception.

The fact that €175m is such silly money should have made the task of imaginarily spending it easier. There were no limits, no choices to be made between one course of action and another, you could just do them all. But somehow, it made it slightly more difficult.

With €1m, for example, you might keep your job. But with €175m you pretty much have to give up your job. But we worried about what we would do then. Would we go off the rails? But then, of course, we would be occupied with our philanthropy, most of us agreeing in our heads that we would only take what we needed, like maybe €100m, and we would give the rest to good causes. Because we are good people.

Another issue was family. Obviously you'd have to give them all a few quid to avoid a Meghan Markle situation, just a way of saying: "Guys. Something good has happened for me for once. Don't screw it up." But with €175m, nothing would ever be enough for them. Give them a few million to go away and they'd still be back for more, like the vultures they are. People were getting angry with their families, in their heads, over the imaginary leeching.

In my house, we got into an argument about the sort of cars we would get. My wife refused to imagine a luxury SUV because she doesn't need that much boot space - now that the kids are a bit older.

I got cross with her for being so sensible with the €175m, and I could tell she was thinking what half the other women in the country were thinking would be their first move if they won the money.

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