Planes, trains and awful golf swings
Sometimes one gets a stark reminder that there are different levels of wealth. This realisation struck a good friend of mine recently, with terrifying implications.
He was talking to a former client, the founder of a successful company, when the topic of golf came up. My friend, who claims a handicap of around 15 but is probably closer to triple digits, is always keen to demonstrate his spasmodic swing to new people.
He readily accepted his old client's invitation to join a game and was picked up the following weekend. They took a car to a small airport, hopped on a private jet hired for the occasion and flew to Scotland. There they were joined by a hedge fund wizard and a man who used to own a bank. In short: the mega-rich.
For a moment my friend, a kind of pound shop Ernie Els, was amazed at the opulence of this life and very glad to get a sample. However, the hedge fund manager then made an offer, with the full agreement of the bank manager, which made his blood run cold.
“It doesn’t make sense for you to foot the bill for the private jet and the cars and all the rest,” said the hedgie. “Let’s all chip in equally.”
My friend sunk his head in his hands and tried not to yell out: "No! That would be a very bad idea indeed!" Nor did he say that if he had had the choice they would have taken the train – and not even first class, which he considers a bit of a rip-off.
Luckily, the mega-rich can also be mega-generous and his former client rebuffed the offers. “We should do this more often,” he said, although when he saw my friend’s swing he quickly changed his mind.