Been a while. Someone reminded me of this the other day and I had to share it. The gambler is a dreamer. Even notorious match-fixer Wilson Raj Perumal couldn't get enough of a buzz from winning millions. Instead he wanted to win tens or even hundreds of millions. This is a fantasy just as hallucinogens do for the wannabe escapist or cocaine does for the under-confident.
I wrote this as an epilogue to Off The Chest but it was removed by my agent. I think some of you will identify with it.
I would like to describe to you a situation which every hardcore gambler experiences at some point in their life. We descend into a dream world particularly during a losing stretch and money is owed. It starts with the purchase of a lottery ticket. We walk to the newsagent with other thoughts in mind but once we hand over that pound or two, everything changes. Personally, I like to lie down and think of nothing else than what I would do with the winnings. This may become slightly awkward as I detail your exact thought process.
I have won 26 million Euros scooping the sole jackpot of a large non-rollover jackpot week. I stare at the numbers checking whether I am dreaming as I have often done before or if this is, in fact, real. Everything is legit - phew - let’s get spending. I speak with the lottery agent and confirm I have, indeed, won the jackpot. They insist on assigning a financial adviser but I politely decline. I know how to handle this.
I ask for a cheque which is delivered by courier to my home promptly the next day. Once received I proudly walk into my local HSBC branch and demand to see the manager of the establishment. The receptionist informs me that the manager is busy but after a casual wave of the cheque, a lady appears almost immediately. We proceed to the top floor which is empty apart from a distinguished-looking gentleman. The manager asks if I would like a drink and I opt for a glass of water. I politely ask what HSBC could do for me if I was to deposit such a large amount. She falls over herself explaining the different investment options but ultimately concedes that eventually my money would be best placed with a wealth management specialist. The manager is a nice person and I want her to benefit from a large commission when my money is deposited. I ask, once the cheque has been verified, if there is the possibility of an advance. ‘You may withdraw up to a maximum of £50,000 a day sir’. This is the answer I was looking for although I must admit I am slightly surprised. A cashier is called for with instructions to withdraw £50,000 in cash from the safe. The cashier informs the manager that the safe is on time lock (as if she didn’t know) and that the money would be ready, once counted, in an hour. I sign the necessary paperwork and withdraw the remaining £20 in my current account and head to a local sushi restaurant. I ask for a pad of paper while waiting for my food and begin to jot down a list of potential purchases. The bill comes to £8.40 but I tip the £12.40 change - it’s the least (and also the most) I can do.
Back at the bank, I’m handed a brown paper parcel with £50,000 in mint condition 20s and 50s. I immediately hail a cab to the Dorchester Hotel with the world unaware of the money on my person. I walk past several betting shops, but the desire to gamble has completely dissipated.
What need would I have to gamble? I booked a penthouse suite costing £4,000 for the night but this was a mere fraction of my net wealth. £46,000 remains for today’s budget and I have every intention of spending the lot. The day is still long as my trusty watch shows 12.32pm. From a room which seems to serve little purpose I phone a well-known recruitment agent. I speak to a lovely lady named Sara - or is it Sarah? - and ask her if there are any personal assistants on their books. My intention is to conduct a series of interviews during the afternoon and choose a PA by the end of the day. I inform Sara of where the interviews are being held (to establish some credibility) before explaining that I need someone exceptionally well presented. This is code for drop-dead gorgeous. I think Sara understands as she points out that she knows one or two ladies who might fit the bill.
I conduct a series of interviews with girls who would not be out of place in a La Senza advert. They are dressed immaculately and all appear suitable. One girl, in particular, stands out. She is dressed in a tight red blouse and skirt revealing legs which should be worshipped. I am not attracted to her in a sexual way - it is more that my status will be elevated having this girl as a secretary. People will assume I’m banging her which I may or may not get around to.
And yet I want to help her. She comes from a working class background and never went to university. She worked dead-end jobs for four years and put herself through night school to achieve a number of qualifications some of which were useful to me in this most unique situation. Initially, I introduced myself as a businessman and explained that there are many projects I will be undertaking but as I begin to trust Gemma, I explain the real deal.
Money is no object and I intend to pay her an extortionate salary compared to usual PA jobs. But there is one final test she must pass. I ask her to take out her phone and dial her mother. A lady answers and I briefly explain that I am conducting an interview with her daughter. I pass the phone to Gemma to confirm this is not some kind of hostage situation. I then ask mum to describe her daughter in three words. ‘Beautiful, smart and loyal’. This is exactly the answer I wanted to hear. Gemma’s relationship with her mother is a close one and this was important for my trust in an unknown. Loving daughters do not steal for their family and do not place them in harm’s way for the sake of money.
I decide to hire Gemma but hold off from telling her just yet. I invite her to dinner downstairs in the restaurant. I order something simple but expensive, a steak so she does not feel pressured when ordering her meal. Gemma opts for the sea bass.
After the main courses arrive I inform Gemma that she has got the job. She wants to hug someone but instead a wonderful smile and a tasteful fist pump appear to suffice. After desert followed by a round of Bloody Maries, I tell Gemma I expect her at 9am the following morning. Gemma will begin to put my affairs in order but there are certain matters I can take care of myself tonight. I have a friend called Michael who lives in Edinburgh. I know he is struggling with certain payments and there is much I can do to help but straightforward charity is not my modus operandi.
Every gift will be set up by a surprise as I like to see the look on the recipient’s face. The concierge at the Dorchester has agreed to book a flight to Edinburgh and has already arranged transportation to the airport. I palm him a fifty pound note and make a similar exchange with every person I come into contact with from the doorman, to the baggage handler, to the driver and finally the flight attendant. I’m flying first class and she promises that my glass of champagne will never be left unfilled. I arrive in Edinburgh at nine o’clock and hire a limo to Michael’s abode armed with a parcel of cash. Michael likes to gamble and although the bundle of cash will last a month or three, I have structured a long-term strategy of payment. My driver rings the doorbell to a run-down flat shortly after which Michael appears. He is instructed to make his way, as he is, to the limo all the while completely unaware of what is about to take place. He finally recognises his old gambling partner but is slow to process the scene before him. I am wearing an immaculate suit as a diamond encrusted Breitling glistens in the dim street lights. We embrace and I tell my first friend that ‘I’ve hit the jackpot’. There is a change of clothes for Michael dangling from the hand rail in the car but he can complete the switch from pauper to pimp at the casino.
We arrive at the Grosvenor in the town centre and I hand him the parcel containing £10,000. I inform Michael that this is his bankroll tonight but he may save his money as he pleases. All is not lost if he gambles it all away but I will not be an endless source of income. Michael has a mediocre time of it, finally quitting some £4,000 down. However, the parcel is swiftly topped up after I hit the casino for a £10,000 win after just one hand of Blackjack. I tell Michael that there will be £30,000 waiting for him in his Betfair account but there is one condition - he must buy something long-lasting and expensive and save some money for a rainy day – and there is plenty of those to look forward to in Edinburgh. I leave Michael with new-found hopes and dreams brought about by my money but most importantly by my friendship. That night, I drift off to sleep empowered by the potential for good this lottery blessing has provided.
Slightly unprofessionally, wearing my dressing gown, I greet Gemma early the next day. There is nothing suggestive about my actions but it’s obvious she feels awkward. I apologise but explain I haven’t had the time to purchase new clothes. We sit in the lounge area and we begin to discuss how to implement my endless plan of action. Firstly, we decide on a list of purchases and transactions with the leftover money from the bank but, of course, a second instalment of £50,000 has now become available.
Besides the clothes, I desire a reservation for six at Nobu, the finest Sushi establishment in London, complete with limo and driver. The houses and business projects can wait - this dinner will be with my five closest friends on earth. I would like presents for each, specifically tailored to their proclivities. Joe will receive the most expensive present but he does not covet riches. I intend to buy him a house in his beloved Uganda, but tonight £20,000 worth of shares in Queens Park Rangers served as hors d’oeuvres.
Daniel would appear to be difficult to shop for. Again, he does not desire money but certainly enjoys the high life. Recently he has been seeing a Siberian beauty and a romantic trip to Monte Carlo seems appropriate.
Tom is easy to please as he enjoys three things in life. Skunk, boxing and women. It’s certainly difficult to provide all three in one present so I opt for three mini-gifts. For the latter of the gifts, a hooker would certainly have been the easier option but Tom likes a challenge. Instead, we will be flying to the Playboy mansion and there he may try his bizarre chat-up techniques on some thoroughly stupid but beautiful women.
The two Davids have always helped me out over the years and therefore at this early stage in my benevolence £5,000 was more than fair.
The limo collects each and every dinner guest, negotiating the backstreets of North London. There are no empty seats at Nobu and it appears we were fortunate in securing a reservation - maybe the £3,000 card deposit had something to do with it. I explain the news to everyone although the limousine and my deeply suspicious behaviour was enough to arouse suspicion. All of our lives would change in some way, especially mine. I had projects planned which involved them in some way or other and it was up to them to decide how involved they wanted to become. I wanted to get the message across that although money isn’t everything, this would be my way of thanking them for their incredible friendship.
As the bulk of the cash becomes available, the preparation for the future begins. Gemma is doing a sterling job buying presents - her work is meaningless but clearly enjoyable. I phone up an old college friend who works at a wealth management company. ‘Euan, I have seven million pounds to invest - what can you do for me old boy?’ Euan places my money in what he believes is a ‘fairly low-risk mutual fund’ which he assures me, will yield decent dividends. I trust Euan and go about spending and investing the rest of my fortune safe in the knowledge if I lose every penny, I will still have a nest egg which will last generations.
Imagination is a beautiful thing. Within weeks I have created a company with the assets in place to bring to life my wildest fantasies. I build a gym and fly over two highly rated Colombian boxers speeding up their work permits with proof of a real job here in London. Next, I borrow an idea from a friend and establish the first football stadium with hologram-technology emitting a 3D image in real time. This I believe is the future of mass entertainment paving the way for every fan to watch their favourite team without spending a fortune. Finally, I begin to invest heavily in property in up-and-coming locations. I take on board the advice of experts but essentially trust my instincts.
I am spoken of as the richest person anyone knows, but without the snobbery attached. I am told I know when to flash the cash and when to behave like a regular person. As the years roll by I have markedly improved the quality of life for those who surround me and I’m loved by all. There are no haters in this dream and if they do exist, they quickly vanish into jealous obscurity. My family and their families are provided for and they swell with pride after all I have accomplished. Gambling is no longer needed to fulfil the void in my life as every day is a stroll in the orchards of pleasure. I contently envisage my funeral with my family surrounded by countless people whose lives I have touched before and after the money.