Money can only give happiness where there is nothing else to give it.’

Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility

That was today’s quote in my ‘Jane-a-Day’, my little five-year diary given to me, specifically, for the 365 Jane Austen witticisms.  You’d be surprised how many seem strangely appropriate.  She, herself, was never affluent, her six novels only garnering their deserved acclaim after her death in 1817 at the age of 41.  A voracious reader and a fan of Alexander Pope?  Ah, so much in common.   I wonder what she would have done with £185 million?

It has been splashed all over the news today, the couple who won that ridiculous jackpot.  £185 million?  I mean, what to do?  Quite frankly, I have been planning in my head for some time just what I would do if only I was afforded the opportunity!   Seemingly, having gone public – first mistake – they plan to enjoy wonderful holidays with family and friends.  Well, that should take care of a few million but not one hundred and eighty-five.  Reportedly, when asked about charities, the reply was that they hadn’t thought about it.  Seriously?  Just me?  Firstly, houses, plural.  Not in excess but, aside from here, a beautiful apartment in the Via Margutta in Rome – of course – and the same in St Wolfgang.  Maybe a vineyard in Italy?  A suite in the Ritz?  Oh, my ranch in Montana …  Oh, to dream.  The point is, I know exactly what I would do with it!  Of course, my friends, too, would achieve instant millionaire status and, then, the investments.  Anyone know a good Financial Advisor?!  Let me re-phrase that – anyone know an honest Financial Advisor?

Gosh, there would be at least £100 million going a begging so, to my mind, the most amazing thing to do would be to travel the world visiting all the places I’ve only dreamed of: Magaluf, Zante, Benidorm, Lanzarote …  Sure!  Haven’t been to any of the aforementioned but neither am I planning on going anytime soon.  No, I would go back to Africa, East Africa and learn, first hand, of the conservation projects desperate for funding; of the need for schools and education material; the need for clean water, nets and drugs to combat malaria, money to fund the fight against poachers, funds needed for mobile medical teams.  What better way to dispose of a gluttonous £100m?  To learn and to give.  Think Madonna, although she seems to go forth and multiply!

Nepal.  That is somewhere I would be privileged to see.  I had the opportunity to go with school when I was in Sixth Form – Martha, our Headmistress, had been a missionary there – but I decided against it.  A small, select group, there were one or two on whom I wasn’t overly keen and that swayed it for me.  How utterly embarrassing!  While my parents may have been grateful not to have to sell a kidney over and above the school fees, I passed on the opportunity of a lifetime.  Truly.  I have seen the footage and, at the base of the Himalayas, the view of the mountains, alone, is out of this world …  So, I would right the wrong but, sadly, without my ‘man on the ground’, Martha, who is no longer with us.  She was to Nepal what Ginny is to Kenya – an invaluable guide..

Millions wisely allocated, where else?  China, India, Asia?  None have ever been on my bucket list but I would definitely give generously to the Animals Asia Foundation which, primarily, works to rescue and protect bears, incarcerated and subjected to unforgivable cruelty all for their bile.  Then there are the orangutans in Borneo, Orca Conservation in Canada … so many places to go; so much to see and to learn; so many opportunities to help.  £185 million?  How I would have loved the opportunity.

So much about animals.  I make no apologies.  The arrogance – and ignorance – of human beings; nay, the greed has brought us to this point.  This verdant planet with its thriving ecosystem is on the brink and it is the animals who are the innocent casualties.  Apparently, on this earth, only, for our benefit – bile, ivory, entertainment, status symbol – not only are we responsible for inordinate cruelties but many are under the very real threat of extinction.  To lose the elephant is a loss too great to contemplate …  Privileged to see them in their natural habitat – free – we are dwarfed by so much more than their size.  There can be no greater wisdom than that seen in the eyes of an elephant.  An afternoon spent in the bush of Samburu, Kenya, watching a herd of elephant graze – a privilege I wish all could share.  Big Pharma would be bankrupt!

Jane Austen has much to answer for sending me down this path but to lose the ability to dream would be unthinkable …  Meanwhile, back to reality; a world in which people can win £185 million and yet have given no immediate thought to charities.   I am surrounded by notes pertaining to this depraved world; scribbles I have made recording the evidence.  In front of me, I see that reminding me that there are companies in existence which, now, offer sperm freezing as part of the package for male employees.  Seriously?  Hurried lines to remind me that serial killer, Levi Bellfield – he, who murdered 13-year-old Milly Dowler in 2002 – is engaged to a prison visitor and wishes to get married in jail.  Why?  Alternatively, may he rot in hell!

Below, my scribbled shorthand documenting the NHS waiting times in England; a list on which there are 16,796 people awaiting treatment – an estimate of two years!  Meanwhile, the average ambulance response time to emergency calls is 51 minutes!  Put down that second, deliciously strong gin and tonic, pass on these garlic dough balls, get up from that seat and walk for staying healthy is imperative now.  For, in the absence of working GPs, one must, first, combat NHS 24!  A friend of ours, recently, had been suffering severe stomach pains for much of the week.  Playing ball, his first port of call was the aforementioned call centre only to told – regardless of symptoms or pain – that no GP would look at him favourably unless he had been taking Ibuprofen and Paracetamol for at least 24 hours!  Excellent.  Not sure that would be helpful for a burst appendix leading to peritonitis but …   Still, as long as no GP on a salary of £100k was disturbed in the process.  God forbid somebody volunteered to see the patient and assess in person.  This is the deified NHS, for goodness sake!

Enough.  Too much of a good thing.  For those unaware, a new ‘Seriously?!’ post was uploaded earlier today, too.  More of the same: all hail this wonderful world!  On signing off, though, I wonder whether anybody else caught Question Time a week past Thursday?  Coming from Hackney of all places, who was to be found on the panel?  None other than Sebastian Vettel, Formula One’s four-time world champion.  Wow!  My favourite from the moment I spotted the handsome German, is there no end to his talents?  Intelligent, too, my respect for him knows no bounds.  Now, if only I still had my legendary cupboard door, Sebastian Vettel, you would be blu-tacked to it!

We make a living by what we get but we make a life by what we give.’

Winston Churchill

Couldn’t choose between that or this …

You aren’t wealthy until you have something money can’t buy.’

Garth Brooks

This is Trish, signing off.

Proofread?  Negative.  Apologies in advance.