A couple of minor stories from the last few days have stuck in my head. Both, for different reasons, are indicators of what a bizarre and generally unpleasant society we live in.
The first comes from Catania in Sicily, one of the poorest parts of Italy. Some lucky (and I use the word fairly loosely) individual has won €100m (US$125m, GB£80.5m) on the lottery. Now on the face of it 80 million quid sounds quite nice, although consideration of the sheer logistics of managing such an amount is mind boggling and means that it could be a poisoned chalice.
The phrase regarding this lottery win which stuck with me came from the local mayor, he said:
‘. . . whoever won will feel a moral duty to do something for the local community. . .’
Well, now hang on a minute. This isn’t your money. It is up to the winner(s) what they do with it, and in my experience the last people who should be doling out advice on what to do with large sums of money is the local political class. I wonder if the council of the Commune di Catania had interests in Icelandic banks?
Speaking personally, I quite often daydream whilst walking the dog and will think about what my actions would be if I were to win a huge amount like this. What surprises me is that it doesn’t involve sports cars, yachts, rambling mansions and the like. Well, perhaps one sports car then. I always hit on the same formula, to preserve my anonymity I’d engage a decent firm of local solicitors to arrange the payment of funds to ensure that some organisations and buildings that are important to me would never have to worry again. I was fortunate to grow up in a lovely Kentish village with a village green overlooked by church, windmill and pubs. On a sunny Sunday cricket afternoon, it is perhaps the lovliest place on Earth. Accordingly huge amounts of money would be spent on the village cricket and football clubs, scout hall, village hall, church, windmill, village museum and village school. No-one would ever know it was me. I don’t particularly care about the church as an organisation, but care deeply about the church in the village as a beautiful and quite rare example of religious architecture. I don’t particularly care about the Scouting organisation, but appreciate the important role it plays in the life of the village youngsters. The school should be looked after by the taxpayer, but the building is a wonderful Victorian structure and I was blissfully, deliriously happy there in my primary schooling. Every last one of them would receive lavish amounts of cash.
I obviously would contribute something to the local community, but that is my choice, if I also chose to gold plate all my fruit and veg, then that’s my look out as well. Another telling line from the report is from a local consumer group who wanted the jackpot to be seized and redistributed.
Hmmm. Indeed. How long before the righteous (TM Leg-Iron) start calling for a cap on lotto payouts in this country on the basis that it isn’t good for people and redistribute the winnings on a basis that met their definition of being ‘worthy’?
The second story relates to a chap called Chris Read, one of my fellow county-men, who had the temerity to leave negative feedback on some guy’s e-bay site for sending him a damaged mobile phone that wasn’t the item he’d ordered and paid for. As a result the vendor, Joel Jones, refunded Read’s money. Read did not remove his negative feedback and received a letter from the vendor’s solicitors threatening legal action as:
‘The negative feedback you left on October 3 regarding Samsung F700 was unfair and is damaging to my business’s reputation and ability to trade.’
Well, no it isn’t unfair. It’s entirely fair. He went on to say that:
‘He had no right to post negative feedback which will show up on my profile and put off other customers.’
Call me a bluff old traditionalist, but I think he had every right to post that feedback, and if you make a habit of sending people wrong and substandard goods, you deserve every bit of bad feedback you get.
Good old Chris Read is standing his ground. What sort of country do we live in where someone who provides a poor service thinks they can drag someone to the courts for pointing this out? I hope he does take him to court and I hope the judge hits him with as big a penalty as possible for wasting everyone’s time and being a general arse-clown.