The plight of the unhappy billionaires
They have more money than they know what to do with. But for these unhappy billionaires, money just isn't enough.
John Caudwell, the founder of Phones4U, is the latest billionaire to tell us that money hasn't made him happy. He sometimes registers a "one or two" on the happiness scale when he "should be a nine" out of ten, he tells The Daily Telegraph's Peter Stanford. "If you think having money means that life is going to be fantastic all the time, that you can move from one wonderful thing to the next, then you need to recalibrate," he says.
Caudwell has good reason to feel this way. Rufus, a 20-year-old musician the youngest of his three children with his first wife was finally, after years of problems, diagnosed with Lyme disease in February. A bacterial infection passed on by a tick bite, Lyme disease affects some 2,000 people a year in Britain. If it's caught early itcan be cured by antibiotics, but all too often it isn't: a friend of mine in Scotland still suffers aches and pains from it because doctors were too slow to diagnose the problem.
Rufus's case is much worse. "When he was ten, [he] started developing what appeared to be mental problems panic attacks, serious agoraphobia and a terror of sickness," says his father. "We tried everything psychologists, psychiatrists, with varying degrees of success. All the money in the world can't buy you health."
Now Caudwell knows what's wrong, he's doing all he can to cure him and has a "huge team" of experts helping. "It's a massive sadness in my life." Ironically, the 62-year-old set up a charity tohelp sick and disabled children 15 yearsago, often funding specialist treatment that is beyond NHS budgets. "Little did I know back then I'd have a child in the same situation."
I have less sympathy for Markus Persson, the 36-year-old Swedish inventor of the staggeringly popular video game, Minecraft. Having sold his firm to Microsoft last year for $2.5bn he now feels trapped, reports the Daily Mail, "in a world every bit as isolated and purposeless as the digital one he invented". Even his girlfriend has left him for someone more normal. "The problem with getting everything is that you run out of reasons to keep trying," he says. And in another tweet:"Hanging out in Ibiza with famous friends and partying with famous people, able to do whatever I want, andI've never felt more isolated."
Nothing in the Swede's difficult early life (his father was a drug addict and his parents divorced when he was 12) prepared him for huge wealth and, as many lottery winners have found, sudden riches never have the magical effect they're expected to have. Some years ago, Harvard psychologists concluded that our brains are designed to stay at a "stable point" of happiness and the intensity of our emotional response to change, whether for good or bad, is less than we think it will be. "We don't realise how quickly we will adapt to a pleasurable event and make it the backdrop of our lives," says one of the psychologists. I think this is true. And, to be fair, Persson, who is no fool, readily admits his plight is unlikely to win him much sympathy.
Tabloid money: Can't afford sirens? The police are having us on
"I arrived first. From the outside, the club looks as though it could do with a lick of paint. On the inside I felt the same especially about the staff. A stuffy old bloke wearing pin-striped trousers looked me up and down as though I had something rather unpleasant on my shoes. But it wasn't something on my shoes it was my shoes he found unpleasant. He pointed at them and said: What are these?' I replied: Expensive', which was true as they were a pair of black leather trainers from Boss costing me the thick end of £125. He said: I would describe them as leisurely.' Since I spend all day wandering around London I accurately responded: I would describe them as comfortable.' This was not the answer he was looking for and he indicated that I had to leave the club. Apparently The Reform does not allow trainer footwear"
"Are the police having us on?" asks Carole Malone inthe Sunday Mirror. Officers in the West Midlands say cuts mean they can't afford sirens on their cars, so they can "only chase criminals within the speed limit".
Meanwhile, "we're told the cuts mean Lewisham officers now have to take buses to crime scenes because there's a shortage of pool cars. Pull the other one, lads and lasses! Is it just a coincidence that these absurd stories come at a time when ministers are drawing up plans for more budget cuts?" Nor do the cuts seem to be biting everywhere. Just last weekend the police managed to find 7,000 officers to patrol the Notting Hill carnival at a cost of £7m. But here's one way they could save some money: they could "spend less time investigating 50-year-old allegations against dead men".