Tom Ford’s conversion to the simple life

Isn’t it funny how often wealthy men suddenly announce after they’ve made many millions that money means very little to them?


Tom Ford: an anti-materialist conversion from atop his pile of money
(Image credit: 2016 Franco Origlia)

Here's a "parable of our times", says Richard Littlejohn in the Daily Mail. A friend of mine called Robert Rowland set out to catch the Number 9 bus to work in London one morning, only to find that he'd left his credit card behind. Boarding the "shiny new Routemaster", he told the driver he'd forgotten his card the driver couldn't take cash for the £1.50 fare, but recognised Rowland as a regular and told him he could stay on the bus. The conductor said the same.

Unfortunately, an inspector then joined the bus, and when Rowland couldn't produce a ticket or a valid Oyster card, "turned nasty and accused him of deliberate fare dodging". Rowland repeated his willingness to pay cash, but the inspector "living proof", says Littlejohn, "of my oft-repeated dictum that whenever you give anyone any modicum of authority, especially if it comes with a uniform, they will always, always, abuse it" ordered the bus to stop and demanded Rowland's address, which he checked on his phone.

He then handed Rowland a penalty notice. Rowland wrote to Transport for London (TfL), appealing for leniency. His plea was ignored and he was ordered to pay a fine of £225. He was now "ready to accept defeat", but when he wrote back he received a reply from TfL demanding to know his income and investments.

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He complied "I'd have told them to stick it up the exhaust pipe of one of their double-deckers", says Littlejohn and there followed a letter from Lavender Hill Magistrates, telling him his case had been heard in his absence, and ordering him to pay a grand total of £756.50 a £500 fine, the £1.50 fare, costs of £225 and a victim surcharge of £30.

The case is typical of the way modern public servants behave, says Littlejohn, whether it's the police hounding celebrities such as Cliff Richard, or councils fining people for putting their recycling in the wrong bin. Rowland could prove himself innocent, and had witnesses to prove it, yet was treated like a common criminal. Happily, in this case (as Littlejohn later reported), the power of the press did the trick. TfL carried out an "urgent" review of Rowland's case and backed down, sending him a grovelling apology. Plenty of others in the same predicament, I'm sure, will not be so lucky.

Tom Ford's anti-materialist conversion

Isn't it funny how often wealthy men (and they're always men) suddenly announce after they've made many millions that money means very little to them? The latest man to undergo this anti-materialist conversion is the fashion designer Tom Ford, 55, whose dresses cost thousands and who owns a home in Bel Air, a house in Mayfair and a ranch in New Mexico, which he recently put on the market for £60m.

"The things that make me happy are the people in my life," he tells the Radio Times. "Your parents tell you the best things in life are free and you go, Yeah, yeah, the best things are a new apartment and a shiny new car'. Not true. Maybe I'm a fool but I didn't understand that right off the bat." No, and perhaps you would never have understood it if you hadn't managed to make all that dosh in the first place.

Tabloid money "what stupidly expensive present should we buy the little mites this year?"

"It's time to start thinking about what stupidly expensive presents the little mites will be given for Christmas," says Jeremy Clarkson in The Sun. "A new carbon-fibre bicycle, perhaps. Or a three-quarter-sized working model of a Mig-29 fighter jet." But why bother? It's not like they will remember any of it when they're grown up.

"It breaks my heart to think how much effort my parents put into my Christmas presents every year and I can't remember what any of them were." "It'll be the same with your kids." Thirty years from now, having emptied the bank account to keep them happy, "it'll all just be a big, grey fog in their heads".

Prince Harry has denounced the "wave of abuse and harassment" the press has directed at his new girlfriend, American actress Meghan Markle. Really? It's not like she's "some media ingnue", says Sarah Vine in the Daily Mail. "The woman a transatlantic TV star don't forget has 1.1 million followers on Instagram", and her own website, The Tig, "is not dissimilar to Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop".

She's a professional promoter, or "influencer" as they prefer to be known, profiting by "cultivating a vast social media following in order to strengthen their selling power". Having gawked at an "atmospheric photo of Meg looking exquisite in a white vest with bed-head hair" on The Tig, you're invited to snap up items from The Meghan Markle fashion collection. A faux leather skirt or cashmere blend poncho, anybody? Both $68.

Mandy Dunn shared a cramped hotel room with her twin 13-year-old daughters for eight months this year, says the Daily Mirror's Ros Wynne-Jones. "You weren't allowed to have any visitors, or eat any food in the room. The only furniture was a bed I slept on the floor." Dunn's is one of 120,000 families who are homeless or in emergency accommodation. "Staggeringly, the cost to the taxpayer was £59 per person £177 a night." "I was mortified," says Dunn. "We could have lived in a palace for that."