Dot writes: if you had untold wealth, what would you spend it on? Ken and I like to play this game, because we would quite enjoy having untold wealth and it’s a good idea to be properly prepared. There’s the obvious stuff:
– a large beautiful ‘period’ house in a prime location – perhaps one of the big Victorian terraces in Sandycove – with a daily cleaner
– travel to exotic lands, with first-class seats and someone else carrying the suitcases
– a posh car (for Ken, really. I would settle for a brand new BMW)
– clothes from all the elegant boutiquey shops that elegant South Dublin women frequent
And there’s the stuff where one can exercise one’s personality a little:
– collecting art (I would go for pottery and photographs as much as for paintings)
– setting up a brewery (for Ken)
– residential yoga courses (for me)
– lots of trips to the theatre
And there’s the stuff where one can start trying to bend the world to one’s will:
– extremely specifically-targeted philanthropic donations to my own university.
It’s actually one of the things that worries me as we all talk about the need to increase philanthropic involvement as a non-exchequer funding source for our cash-strapped universities: people who fund also want to control, and however daft the government’s agenda often seems to be individual rich people can always be that little bit dafter. But one’s own brand of daftness just seems like the right thing to do. So here’s what I would fund:
– an independent endowment for the MPhil I co-ordinate, so its committee can do exactly what they like for ever and ever
– an annual summer school in philology and ancient Germanic Languages, with full scholarships for most of the students and lots of my medievalist friends brought in at handsome salaries to teach it
– a new building, spacious and light-filled, for the School of English, with a rooftop garden, a cafe, our own swimming pool and a masseur, for when David Foster Wallace just gets too exciting
– a School horse. Just because.
– new lifts going up to Manuscripts and Early Printed Books. The ones we have at present are rather frightening.
What would you do with your untold wealth?