I spend most of my time thinking about scuzzy criminals and their dastardly deeds, but for my last post before Christmas, I thought I would spread a bit of seasonal goodwill by focussing instead on those items that even the most audacious, determined and wealthy criminal cannot get his scheming mitts on.
First up, we have those two old saws beloved of writers of country music and Hallmark cards: health and love. They say that if you have these, you have riches beyond avarice. Certainly the very wealthy can attract attention, lust and sex, but love may be a bit more elusive. And bags of money will buy you all the drugs and medical expertise on offer, but if your condition is not treatable, you’ve had it.
To these, I would like to add two more things that money cannot buy. The first is the crown of England. (And probably the crown of other countries as well – the Netherlands, almost certainly – but I feel confident speaking only about my own jurisdiction.) I should imagine that great wealth will get you an audience with some members of the royal family, but I believe that the Queen herself is quite picky about this, and anyway, she’s a past mistress at smiling nicely but then not giving in to you – just ask Philip. So you might get a swanky dinner at Buck House, but real influence? I doubt it.
And the second is a train. Bear with me on this one, and think it through. If you’re rich, you can easily buy your own private plane or helicopter, and if you’re able to pay the landing fees you can fly pretty much wherever and whenever you like. The same goes for yachts and other floating gin palaces, and for fleets of ermine-lined limousines. But trains are a different matter. Apart from the Queen, I don’t know of anyone who has their own train and can run it on the public tracks in the UK. Please do tell me if I’m wrong, as I’d love to know. The rich can buy a first class ticket, to be sure, but if there are leaves on the line or a broken-down slow service in front, the wealthy are delayed along with the rest of us.
So next time you’re fuming on the late-running 0756 to King’s Cross, just remember that even if you had the clout of Silvio Berlusconi, the wealth of Al Capone and the wiliness of Bernie Madoff, you’d still be stuck. So close your eyes and chill – and I’ll see you back here on Monday 4 January 2016. Merry Christmas, one and all!