Thinking Aloud On a Sunday


I woke up from a vivid dream this morning. I was talking to my sister, having a rather heated debate about who should do the most to look after Mum. I could see her face, smell the fabric conditioner on her clothes, and watched her large hoop earrings move as she talked. Perhaps not that strange a dream, except for two things.

I don’t have a sister. I am an only child, so no siblings ever featured in my life. And my Mum died in 2012, so caring for her is no longer a consideration.

In the dream, I called my sister ‘Sandy’. I presume that was the familiar name for Sandra, used widely here. But I don’t recall knowing any Sandra that well either. She was also much younger than me, perhaps only forty years old. That would have meant that my Mum would have been at least fifty-five when she was born, so not really possible. Even more so, when you consider that she split with my Dad when she was fifty-two, and never had another man friend. In the dream, I was as I am now, not younger at all.

I have no doubt that many experts could come up with solid explanations for that dream. Even lay people could make a fair guess that I had concerns about the care of my Mum when I was still working, and possibly wished that I had a sister around to take some of that from me. At the time, people often remarked that I had to do it all on my own, as I had no brothers or sisters, though close cousins helped out immeasurably. But I was left confused about why my mind had conjured up this vision of a non-existent younger sister, something I can recall in great detail, down to the clothes she was wearing, and the fact that she had no wedding ring. That made me think about the whole issue of siblings in my life.

I was one of the few kids who was an only child. Every other relative had more than one child, sometimes three or four. I had lots of cousins close by, but I was alone with my parents. This had a huge number of plus points. I got their undivided attention, all the presents and clothes, and they had money to spare to take me on holidays, and other treats. The times I wished for a brother or sister were rare, and soon dismissed. I saw other children arguing with their siblings, fighting with them on occasion, and sometimes even growing to hate their brothers and sisters. They had to wear hand-me-downs if they were the same sex, and use toys almost worn out by the older children. I concluded at an early age that I had been lucky to have escaped all that.

As I grew up, I sometimes envied those with an older brother who looked after them, and looked out for them. Older sisters tended to do their own thing, and younger sisters had to be looked after constantly, so the absence of a sister never concerned me at all. In adult life, I got to see those family units close up, as sisters fell out about the smallest things, and younger brothers never seemed to match up to the older ones. That confirmed my earlier thoughts that I had been lucky.

Now retired, and all that behind me, I no longer think of what it might have been like to have had that sister or brother throughout my life. I have seen that such family gatherings can be incredibly noisy, and usually end in arguments. And that whilst the love might be there, it rarely surfaces for outsiders to see.

I am left wondering about that dream though.
And about Sandra, the sister I never had.

Significant Songs (151)


Back in 1977, I bought a copy of the new album from Fleetwood Mac. It was called ‘Rumours’. Some time later, I didn’t know anyone who didn’t have a copy on their record shelf, or propped up beside their record player. Small wonder that this sold an amazing fifty million copies, and is still being bought today, on CD and download.

I have featured the group before, both in their earlier Blues incarnation, and later on with ‘Big Love’. But ‘Rumours’ is worth a look on its own, as there are few recordings in history that have crossed so many genres, and appealed to a vast array of music fans. This was always my favourite track. It suits Stevie Nicks’ voice to perfection, and strikes the right mood in so many ways. The lyrics are worth adding in full, on this occasion. They meant something to the band at the time, with all their personal upheavals. Forty years later, they are still powerful to read.

Now here you go again, you say
You want your freedom
Well who am I to keep you down
It’s only right that you should
Play the way you feel it
But listen carefully to the sound
Of your loneliness
Like a heartbeat drives you mad
In the stillness of remembering what you had
And what you lost, and what you had, and what you lost
Thunder only happens when it’s raining
Players only love you when they’re playing
Say women they will come and they will go
When the rain washes you clean, you’ll know, you’ll know
Now here I go again, I see the crystal visions
I keep my visions to myself, it’s only me
Who wants to wrap around your dreams and,
Have you any dreams you’d like to sell?
Dreams of loneliness,
Like a heartbeat, drives you mad
In the stillness of remembering, what you had,
And what you lost and what you had and what you lost
Thunder only happens when it’s raining
Players only love you when they’re playing
Women, they will come and they will go
When the rain washes you clean, you’ll know
Thunder only happens when it’s raining
Players only love you when they’re playing
Say, women, they will come and they will go
When the rain washes you clean, you’ll know
You’ll know, you will know, you’ll know

Some things I have never done

A few years ago, I don’t recall exactly when, I heard the term ‘Bucket List’. I think it originated in America, and involved people compiling lists of things they intended to do before they ‘kicked the bucket’. (Died) Some of these were merely dreams, but most were achievable goals, given sufficient funds, and good health. This later progressed onto the blogs with adaptations, such as people listing things they wanted to do ‘Before I am 30’, and so on. They still pop up now and then, so the idea seems to have never gone away.

Over the last few years, it has occurred to me that there are not only things I will likely never do, but also lots of things I have never wanted to do, even with unlimited funds, and full fitness. On a bus journey in the rain yesterday, I got to thinking about some of those things, the fanciful, as well as the mundane.

I have never parachuted from an aircraft. I thought about it once, then discovered that my life insurance at the time would not cover me, in the event of a fatal accident. Since then, I have decided that it is not something I ever want to do.

I have not been up in a hot air balloon. I was once booked in for such an excursion, which would have taken us above Luxor in Egypt, and along part of the Nile. But the operators cancelled it, due to mechanical problems. That is something I still might do one day, if I live long enough.

I never did learn to swim. I could probably do that at the local swimming pool, or pay to attend an intensive course locally, guaranteed to have you ‘Swim in a week’. I’m not sure that I really want to though, as I have a deep-seated fear of being in water.

I have not visited America, north or south. I doubt I will ever have the money to do that now, but if I ever do, I would like to go. The same with Japan, a place that has long fascinated me.

I have never painted a picture, published a book, or performed on a stage. These three are all possibilities; things that could still happen with some training, or personal commitment.

I tried to learn to play musical instruments. At first, the double bass, and later the guitar. I didn’t have the patience to practice, and found it hard to grasp learning music, so gave up. It might be a bit late for that one now.

I have never been skiing, though I have been to places where other people were doing that. It always seemed rather silly to me, slipping down a small mountain or hillside, risking serious injury, or death. As well as that, it also seemed to be as much about what you were wearing, and the brand name on your sunglasses, so didn’t appeal. The same with mountain climbing. You go all that way, then have to try to get back down again…

I have never been on a cruise liner. Although there have been times when I could well have afforded a luxury cruise, I feared sea-sickness would spoil the experience. I did manage a cruise along the Nile, but that has no waves.

Then there are those modern fundraisers or leisure activities that have come along as I got older. Abseiling down the side of a building, bungee jumping from a bridge platform, or a crane. Running a half-marathon, competing in an ‘Iron Man’ challenge, and so many others. You are not going to hear about me participating in any of those, I assure you.
Paintballing. Running around with a group of people firing plastic balls filled with paint at each other, seeking to gain victory over another team of colleagues, friends, or strangers. I never got that, so that will never be on my list of things to do.

That just leaves me with the things I would really like to do; given the money, or the opportunity.

I would like to see the statues on Easter Island. To look at them, and wonder what they are staring at.
I would like to visit more places in Italy, and that may well be possible.
I would dearly loved to have seen the mighty castle of Krak Des Chevaliers. But as that is in Syria, and has been badly damaged by the war, I doubt that will ever happen.
I would very much like to visit more well-preserved Art Deco buildings. I have a list of favourites, though some are a little far away.

It would be nice to meet all my blogging friends. I have a fanciful notion of winning the lottery, and paying for us all to meet somewhere central, in a nice hotel. Putting flesh to faces in photos, hearing accents and voices, and sharing stories. Sometimes, it’s nice to dream.

Let me know what you would do, or what you have already done.

My trip to Madison

I have written before about some strange dreams I have had over the years. They often fascinate me, at least when I wake up remembering them in such detail. Sometimes, the reasons behind them are obvious, but on occasion, they are completely baffling.

When I woke up this morning, I was aware that I had been dreaming. It was probably one of those ‘just before you wake’ dreams, because the details were fixed in my mind, and seemed very real to me. Not like a dream at all, more like being in another place, then transported back to my bed in Beetley, awakened by the yapping of a neighbour’s dog. This one is worth examining.

I was walking by a huge lake. There was a well-constructed path, affording scenic views over what might have been a coastal area, with a large modern city behind me. I was walking with another man, and I can still see his features clearly, though I have no idea who he was or is. We were heading for a kind of food stall, perhaps a van converted to sell food. The man and I discussed what we might buy to eat, and he recommended the German Sausage, in a roll. He told me that it was the “Best in Madison”. I was speaking in my normal voice, and looked just as I do now, at the same age. He was undoubtedly American, and though around the same age as me, was much fitter-looking, with a full head of hair. When we got to the vendor, I ordered the sausage in the roll, and he handed me the food, declaring “You won’t get better anywhere in Wisconsin, my English friend.”
Then the dog started yapping, and I woke up.

I have never been to America. I have heard of Wisconsin, but only in the context of Schlitz Beer, the brand that ‘made Milwaukee famous’. I am also aware that it is close to the Great Lakes, and the Canadian border, but that’s about it. So, I looked up Madison, and this is what I found.

“Madison, the capital city of Wisconsin, lies west of Milwaukee. It’s known for the domed Wisconsin State Capitol, which sits on an isthmus between lakes Mendota and Monona. The Wisconsin Historical Museum documents the state’s immigrant and farming history. The city’s paved Capital City State Trail runs past Monona Terrace, a lakefront convention center designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.”

That gave me a few chills up the spine. It has a lakeside path that runs along a waterfront, and the large city behind boasts a population of around 250,000. More research tells me that the area is famous for the production of German food, especially sausage, and that there are a lot of German restaurants in the area too.

I have no explanation for this dream. No idea why I should have been in that city that I had never heard of, walking with a man I don’t recognise, alongside a lake that I can still see in my mind. But I was surely there, as it felt as real as sitting here now, typing this. And how else would I have been aware of the small details?

Another of those wonderful mysteries of the mind.

Ollie and his dreams

As any dog owner will tell you, dogs have meany endearing habits. They wag their tails, sit close by your feet, and they are always overjoyed to see you when you return home. They offer devotion and loyalty, and love with no compromises. They will defend you, entertain you, and even share their food and toys with you. Dogs would follow you into a fire, or over a cliff, and endure any hardship alongside their beloved owner.

Ollie has all of these attributes and more, but the thing that I like most about him happens when he is asleep.

Ever since we got him as a tiny pup, he has always been a dog that has dreams. When his world consisted of little more than the interior of our house, and the confines of our garden, his life experience counted in weeks rather than years, he still found things to dream about. He would doze fitfully, looking like a small wrinkled ball, legs and paws moving as if giving chase, and tiny puffs, not yet barks, coming from the side of his jowls. As he got older, his dreams became more entertaining. Whines and yelps could be heard coming from him at all hours, and if you happened to be nearby, you could delight in his horizontal running, as his legs thrashed around.

He is now over four years old, and has more to recall, things to enrich his dreaming state. He has friends to think about, other dogs of his acquaintance, that he sometimes has disagreements with. He has chased cats, pheasants, deer, rabbits, seagulls, and anything else that moved quickly across his path. His canine dreams are now full of possibilities, and accordingly, they have increased in volume, and regularity. He now woofs and barks constantly when dreaming. His jowls wobble, as his paws grab the air. If something wakes him unexpectedly, he will gaze around the room, surprised to find himself back on his favourite rug, or stretched out on his bed in the kitchen.

Sometimes at night, we hear his dreams, as he slumbers in the next room. I have been woken up by his woofs of warning as he dreams of who knows what. But I would never go in and chastise him, or risk spoiling his sleeping antics. I am just delighted that he enjoys his dreams so much.

Chatting to Elton John

I was in the middle of a long chat with Elton John, the singer and songwriter. We were both smartly dressed, and possibly at an exhibition, or very civilised party. He was holding a glass of mineral water with a slice of lemon in it. I could clearly see the sparkling effervescence inside the glass. I was leaning against a column, explaining to him why he was never as good in his later career, as he was on his first ever record release. I was trying not to look at his strange false hair, to pretend that I hadn’t noticed the outlandish wig. Then I woke up.

What is it about dreams?

I don’t care that much for Elton John. I have nothing against him specifically, but rarely think about him. I do actually consider his first album to be his best, but other than that, this dream has nothing to explain it. I have never met Elton John, and I am highly unlikely ever to do so. And I am sure that if I ever did meet him, I would not be so impolite as to criticise his body of work. So why that dream? And why last night in particular?

It is claimed that we do not remember most of our dreams, and that those that are the most vivid, and the easiest to recall, occur just before waking. I can accept these claims, as I have no way of refuting them. But I do remember a lot of dreams, sometimes in minute detail. Most are easy to explain of course. Remembering my Mum, recollecting events from past jobs, marriages, even accidents. I have written a post about these before, and how I am often driving, and usually lost. But some defy all explanation, involving fantastic, impossible situations. Meeting people who are long dead, spending what seems like weeks, traversing a forbidding continent. Perhaps piloting aircraft, riding a fast horse, or swimming in stormy seas with whales. All of these have featured in my dreams.

And chatting to a 68 year old pop music legend from Pinner.

Ambulance Stories (47)


Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a subject much in the news these days. It can affect anyone, in a variety of situations; from a soldier returning from a combat zone, to someone who witnessed a bad traffic accident. I found this recent definition of the condition on the NHS website.

The type of events that can cause PTSD include:
serious road accidents
violent personal assaults, such as sexual assault, mugging or robbery
prolonged sexual abuse, violence or severe neglect
witnessing violent deaths
military combat
being held hostage
terrorist attacks
natural disasters, such as severe floods, earthquakes or tsunamis
PTSD can develop immediately after someone experiences a disturbing event or it can occur weeks, months or even years later.
PTSD is estimated to affect about 1 in every 3 people who have a traumatic experience, but it’s not clear exactly why some people develop the condition and others don’t.’

You notice that there is nothing in that list specifically about working for the Emergency Services. I suppose that if you choose to embark on a career in the Ambulance Service, or the Fire Service, and The Police, you should anticipate the likelihood of having to deal with a lot of unpleasant things, and that you will be witnessing things that others never see. The same applies to those who choose a career in the Armed Forces, but they are on the list, given the extreme nature of their role I presume. It would appear that being the victim of something, rather than just witnessing it, or dealing with the outcome as part of your job, is the defining factor here. So how does this manifest itself, what are the tell-tale signs? This is again from the NHS website.

Signs and symptoms
‘Someone with PTSD will often relive the traumatic event through nightmares and flashbacks, and may experience feelings of isolation, irritability and guilt.
They may also have problems sleeping, such as insomnia, and find concentrating difficult.
These symptoms are often severe and persistent enough to have a significant impact on the person’s day-to-day life.’

For more than twenty years, I witnessed all sorts of unspeakable things working on an Ambulance in Central London. Countless dead bodies, attempted resuscitation of people of all ages, including babies. Finding corpses that had been neglected and were decaying, traumatic limb amputations, decapitations, murders, sexual assaults, and violent crimes. Sufferers of terminal illnesses, people who had jumped from a great height to their deaths, or under trains, or sometimes into water. Suicide by drug overdose, death from drug addiction, victims of shootings and stabbings, others seriously injured in road accidents. I saw them all, and dealt with them accordingly. There was a lighter side. Delivering babies, chatting to interesting elderly people, the banter with colleagues and hospital staff. But generally, it was mostly unpleasant, and often downright nasty.

We were threatened and attacked too. I was physically assaulted a few times, and verbally abused daily. I have been threatened with violence, had knives waved at me, and on two occasions, even a gun was brandished. We were fair game, and enjoyed little respect. Writing the stories about my experiences on this blog has brought back many recollections of my time there; and as memories, they are mostly good ones, surprisingly. When you are dealing with the victims of terrorist bombings for example, you don’t really have time to think about stress, or trauma to the mind. You just do the job you signed up for, and move on to the next one. The day after that, you turn up for work, and deal with whatever is thrown at you, starting all over again, from scratch.

I did my last shift in an Ambulance in November 2001, before moving on to pastures new, as a Communications Officer with the Metropolitan Police. I can honestly say that I didn’t miss the job at all, just some of the people. I joined at the right time for me, and left when it no longer felt right. Since retiring in 2012, I often have vivid dreams. About 70% of those dreams happen to be related to working in an ambulance. Two nights ago, I woke from one such dream at around 3AM. I had been driving an ambulance, and I had got lost, unable to find the location of the job I was required to go to. Rather than being in London, I was on the coast somewhere, driving near the edge of a cliff. The person beside me was unfamiliar, not one of my old crew-mates at all. This is a recurring dream, though often the person with me is someone I know well, or a person that I could never have known at the time, but have met since. They are not unpleasant dreams, but they usually concern lots of driving, and getting nowhere fast. Perhaps someone skilled in interpretation of dreams can explain them, I know that I cannot.

I suppose I always suspected that PTSD might be the legacy of a third of my life spent attending 999 calls. But it wasn’t. I didn’t get it, though some others surely did. I was one of the lucky ones.

A very personal ghost story

Now that Halloween has passed, I can publish this tale of a personal experience, something that happened to me in the late 1980s. If I had posted it on this blog yesterday, it would surely have been regarded as little more than a seasonal spoof. I can assure you that it is not.

I have never really believed in the supernatural. Ghosts, apparitions, reincarnation, life after death, and all things associated with these. Not that I wouldn’t have liked to, it just didn’t seem plausible. Psychics can often appear to be very accurate. They claim to know things about you, even to be communicating with a family member, long since dead. Unfortunately, their ‘gifts’ are very easily debunked, and like most of these things, it has to come down to simple belief. And I don’t believe it.

My paternal grandmother was a great character. She had a very dark complexion, black hair, and a gravelly voice. Mother to three sons and two daughters, she had to fend for herself for much of her adult life, as my grandfather deserted the family home when I was a small child. When she was still a young mother, before the second world war, she was run over and seriously injured. Trapped under the vehicle, her leg had to be amputated at the scene. I remember being somewhat fascinated by her false leg when I was a child. It often stood in a corner of a room, as she was able to get around surprisingly well without it. Once she was going out, she would always wear this prosthesis, and other than a stiffness to her gait, you would be unaware that she had only one leg. She was a houseproud lady, and her home was usually neat and tidy. The step outside her front door was dark red, and she would clean this with a red polish, called ‘Cardinal’. This had a very distinctive smell, and on occasion, it would stain her fingers red, as she did not wear rubber gloves. We would often visit her on a Sunday, and she would accompany us on family holidays to the seaside, where we would go in a large group. On one of these holidays, she once showed me the stump of her thigh, and I remember feeling most uncomfortable having to look at it.

Much later on, after my Mum and Dad split up in the 1970s, I lost touch with my grandmother. Family differences made it very hard to keep in contact, and visiting her had to be arranged in advance, so as not to bump into my Dad, with his new ‘lady friend’. We made the trip a couple of times, and I was pleased to see that she hadn’t changed a bit, though she was no longer in good health. She was always happy to see us, and we tried as much as possible not to waste time discussing the problems we faced, as a result of the unexpected separation. By the late 1980s, other than exchanging Christmas and birthday cards, I hadn’t seen her for a long time. I was living in a small house in Surrey Docks, with my then girlfriend. I got a telephone call from my uncle, my Dad’s youngest brother. He informed me that my grandmother was in hospital. She had serious liver problems, and was not expected to live. I told my Mum, and we arranged to make the trip almost into Kent to see her. We checked that it would not clash with a visit from my Dad, to avoid any nastiness. On the agreed date, we struggled through the rush-hour traffic to the suburbs on the border with Kent. Caught up in delays, we arrived after the official end of visiting time. When we explained the situation to the nurse in charge, she was more than happy to allow us to spend some time.

It was a sad visit. We tried to look upbeat and casual, as we gazed down on this frail lady, yellow with jaundice, trying for her part to be cheerful, and obviously delighted to see us. We talked over old times, and about other members of our extended family, never once mentioning the advanced state of her illness, or her gloomy prognosis. After a while, she finally raised the subject of my Dad leaving us, and told my Mum how much she had missed seeing us both. She asked after my wife too, and I decided not to mention that we had split up, and that I had since met someone else. I wanted her to die thinking that all was well in my world. We said our final farewells, avoiding comments such as ‘see you again soon.’ We all knew that this was the last time we would see her.

I dropped my Mum off on the way home, and went back to tell my girlfriend, who had never met her, about the last visit to my beloved Nan. There were no tears, just fond memories; and frustration about the years lost, due to petty squabbles. We went to bed quite late, and I went straight off to sleep. In the early hours before dawn, I was awakened by an unusual noise. It seemed to be coming up the staircase from the room downstairs, as if someone was dragging something up, one step at a time. As my eyes opened, I was overwhelmed by an all-pervading smell. I recognised it immediately, it was Cardinal polish. Still sitting up in bed, I watched as my Nan’s head appeared at the top of the stairs, level with the bedroom door. She looked at me and smiled, continuing the difficult process of walking upstairs with a heavy false leg. She was dressed as I remembered her, and wearing an apron over her clothes. She walked into the bedroom, and sat down heavily on the bed, right next to me. Street lighting outside was enough to provide sufficient illumination, so I could see her clearly. She reached for my hand, and held it in both of hers, high up, near her shoulder. I could feel the roughness of her palms. She said one thing, ‘It will be alright’, and she was gone.

The next thing I was aware of was my girlfriend talking to me. She seemed confused. ‘Who were you talking to?’ She asked me. ‘Why are you holding your arm up, does it hurt?’ She continued. Then finally, ‘And what is that smell?’ The following day, my uncle rang me, to tell me that my grandmother had died during the night. ‘I know’, I replied.

I still don’t believe in ghosts. I suspect that it was a vivid dream, having just had the emotional experience of going to see my Nan, and knowing that she was dying. I can rationalise most of it to my satisfaction, but one thing has always been a mystery, and remains unexplained to this day. Why did my girlfriend smell the polish?


Things I would like

Since the advent of the National Lottery, and even long before, with the Football Pools, people will often discuss what they would do , if they should find themselves suddenly rich, beyond their wildest dreams. Like most of these people, I have often thought of my potential wish list, just in case the day should ever arrive. Some of the things on it are simple enough, others require substantial funds to realise. So, here it is, not as extravagant as you might think perhaps, but all the items mean something special to me.

1) A new razor blade every morning.  For those of us still using a conventional wet shave, with foam, and a multi-blade cartridge, there is nothing quite like the clean and fresh feeling achieved, when using a new blade for the first time. However, these blades are ridiculously expensive to purchase, which means that they have to be used for at least a couple of weeks, if not longer. A new blade every day would be one luxury that I would cherish.

2) Clean sheets and bedding every day.  There is nothing quite like the feel of getting into a freshly made bed, with cool, clean sheets, fragrant pillowcases, and a fluffy duvet. It is undeniable that you sleep better that first night, so imagine being able to achieve this feeling every night of your life. With enough money, I could afford the bedding, and pay someone to iron and wash it as well.

3) The best ingredients.  I like to cook, and I actually enjoy it too. Although we are not badly off, we do have to watch our expenditure on foodstuffs, meat, and other ingredients. With an injection of funds, I could always shop for the freshest, the best quality, and the rarest. That way, I would eat better, and enjoy my meals more into the bargain.

4) A house by the sea.  I have always felt more relaxed and at my ease, when close to the seaside. Something in the sea air, the sound of the waves, and the crunch of sand under your feet, a feeling that cannot be purchased. What can be purchased though, is the chance to live in this environment, and I would do so immediately I was in receipt of my new fortune.

5) Art Deco living.  I have always loved the style of Art Deco, from the 1920’s and 1930’s. The modernist houses, all white, with flat roofs, porthole windows, curving chrome handrails, and all the design fripperies inspired by Egypt and Bauhaus. So, my seaside house would have to be an Art Deco one, filled with armchairs with exaggeratedly curved arms, walnut furniture in glorious yellow woods, and wonderful Tiffany lampshades, together with dramatic layered mirrors. There would be a roof terrace, surrounded by metal handrails, and original metal framed Crittall windows, impractical perhaps, yet in keeping with the design. The bathroom would be fully tiled, in green and white, and there would be an original kitchen, with pastel-coloured units.  This would be my biggest expenditure, so I would have to get it right.

6) Car and driver.  I am at an age when I am fairly fed up with driving. I can’t be bothered to find a parking space when I get anywhere, and tire of endless sweeps around large car parks, looking for a gap. Traffic jams bore the pants off me, and driving in bad weather, or poor visibility, makes me unduly fatigued. With this in mind, I would buy a reasonable car, nothing too showy, with a lot of room in the back. I would then employ a driver, who would be smart, but not uniformed. He or she would have excellent references, and a good sense of direction, not reliant on the dreaded Sat-Nav. I would pay them well, provide excellent working conditions, and only ever drive on their days off. They could then run me to anywhere I wanted to go, drop me off, and be there when I was finished whatever I was doing. Now that is luxury.

7) The best stuff.  No longer restricted by price considerations, I would only have the best stuff. What is the best TV in the country? Oh that one, OK I will take it. The best computer available anywhere? Wrap one up for me, or deliver it here, if too big. Suits at Savile Row? I will take a dozen, in all different cloths please. Hand-made shoes? Ten pairs, I think. A fabulous watch, that always works; a marvellous fountain pen, with exquisite stationery to write on.

8) Using tradesmen.  Imagine never having to do washing or ironing again; sending it all out to a laundry, or dry cleaning shop. Having all your decorating done by the best available contractor, and someone to weed your garden, and cut the grass. Is your Art Deco house looking a bit shabby? Just get an expert in to re-paint the whole place. You don’t even ask how much.

Money does not guarantee happiness, we have all seen enough examples of that. It does supply freedom from price lists however, and the opportunity to attempt to live a happier life; so the chance to try it would be nice. That is my short list. What’s on yours?