Scene : A hillside villa in southern England.
Tanya walked her dog through the parkland, enjoying the mild autumn views. The leaves had turned brown, but not all of them had fallen off yet. Her estate was beautiful and unspoilt. She was proud of it. She had bought this property quite a few years back, after the true enormity of her wealth had sunk in. At first after the win she had of course given up work and went immediately on a couple of holidays. Then she had bought a nice town house – in London, so she could go shopping regularly on Oxford Street. She had soon filled it with furnishings and goods – so she bought a suburban house in which she installed her boyfriend of the time Jude. He looked after the house for her when she wasn’t there. He gave up his job too and effectively worked for her, keeping house and looking after her.
Soon she realized there was a lot more money to spend, too much to spend, even if she was rash and wasteful. Following her parents advice however she decided not to waste it. She would purchase sensibly, aware that she should acquire good value for anything she bought, otherwise she might just lose it.
She had only had to work for six months before she’d got lucky. She had left college six months before the win and walked easily enough into her first receptionist and typing job. Six months later she was finding it hard work. She was finding it boring and was desperate for a holiday. Her prayers were answered unexpectedly and she became a winner.
As soon as she collected her prize cheque she began to sense the jealousy of others.
Family members wanted their cut, and friends, even some work colleagues who she had not regarded as close friends had the impertinence to try to encourage her to grant them favours. She gave some money away to family and genuine friends, but refused to be too generous. After all it was her name on the lottery ticket.
Tanya was older and wiser now. In the early days it had been great fun, but in recent years there were many tensions. She did not go into towns any more. Oxford Street was not the same to her as it had been. When she bought expensive things there were always people watching her – big eyed, staring, hanging around, with nothing better to do than follow the successful and well to do of the world. The government had started restricting access to parts of central London, particularly Oxford Street. Security guards and policemen manned the gates, asking for ID papers and keeping out the unemployed, or the ones with dubious backgrounds or considered risky. Tanya herself was alright to come in of course. She had money! Moneyed people were not a risk. They were felt to be content and unlikely to harass shoppers. There had been numbers of incidents where small gangs of young criminals and tearaways mugged shoppers down side alleys, or even in the open streets. No shoppers intervened, because what shopper, in the pursuit of nice things, wanted to confront the reality of modern British streets, where the majority of people still needed to work for a living, but where work never paid enough or there was not enough of it.
Oxford Street had used to be very bustling and crowded, but the new restrictions had made it less vibrant. It had become noticeable that in the years since the number of shoppers had continued to dwindle. Perhaps there were less people who could afford to enjoy the shops. Some notable shop names had disappeared. The economy generally was suffering!
Tanya had no financial problems herself. Every year her wealth seemed to rise. The interest or dividends she earned on her property alone paid her far more every year than most people could dream of earning.
Somehow now shopping was no longer as enjoyable as it had once been. She had a lot of money, but it seemed the more money she acquired the less people there were to spend it with. The exclusive places where she could go to entertain herself excluded many of the people she would have liked to spend time with.
Tanya went on some great holidays with Jude. A tour of the United States, which lasted a couple of months. They stayed in quality hotels much of the time, supplemented by motels when they were traveling. As a young woman she did not yet have many ideas about where she wanted to go so she had been open to ideas. Miami Beach and DisneyWorld were two of them, but she also wanted to go up a skyscraper in New York and see where the President lived in Washington. She allowed herself to be guided by Jude, who cast himself in the role of tour manager very willingly.
Wherever they went, except at weekends, most people were working, off the streets. Burger bars seemed empty! She saw the workers in the bars and restaurants. They seemed happy in what they did, mostly very polite and breezy. She wondered what she might be missing by not having to work; comradeship with others perhaps. Now she had to work harder to select the people she came across. There were less shared interests than there had been when she had been at school or college, or when she had been working for that legal firm in the receptionist job. She had got on well with some of the people she met, even though they were not all the types she would have expected to meet or befriend. She had come across enough backstabbing types to know that the workplace was often a place where imperfection could be criticized and might go against you, and how unhappy you could be made if colleagues decided to criticize. She had seen enough work to know she did not want to do much more of it. It was a thankless task!
Jude kept home for her. They were not married, but she paid him all the expenses of living, the costs of heating, eating, electricity, computers and accommodation. He lived with her and was kept by her. She did not pay him a wage, but because he was her boyfriend, her lover, it would not have seemed appropriate for her to treat him as a mere employee. He was her partner in life, and as he had no other income at present, but she had an unmeasurable income, even though she had no need to work for it, it therefore seemed quite obvious and right that she should be the one to pay all their living expenses.
He never asked her to marry him. Neither probably thought they were old enough, or settled enough to get married yet. She was not yet ready to start a family. Why should she not enjoy life for a few more years first, enjoy her winnings and see the world; build the ideal homes, create the fantasy properties her new wealth enabled her to buy, to modernize, to build, to redecorate. She wanted him to be with her, to enjoy the life she was able to provide. She would share it with him. But there was no need to begin the family.
She was well aware that she would not be sensible to rush into marriage with anyone, even sensible, well meaning, perfect Jude. Others she would not have been able to entrust with her wealth. Even Jude might be potentially corrupted by her wealth. She was filled with the instinct that she should remain in charge of her own wealth, not to let anyone else share in its control.
She returned from a shopping trip to central London laden with shopping bags. She had left Jude behind to keep house on this occasion, knowing there was a limit to a man’s enjoyment of shopping. Instead she had gone with a female friend Arabella. Arabella was from a comfortable family, and embarked upon becoming a doctor, but she was very partial to shopping expeditions. Tanya had bought drinks and food and a couple of presents for Arabella – but there had been no need to be overly generous to this old school friend, who had her own means. She had said goodbye to Arabella when the taxi driver stopped outside her friend’s house.
Jude was slouched on the couch in front of the TV. She expected him to rise to greet her, but he did not.
“Hi Jude,” she called to him. “I’m back.”
“Hi,” he replied unenthusiastically.
“Do you want to see what I’ve bought? I’ve bought some new clothes!” She bustled into the lounge, not too alarmed at his nonchalant greeting.
“Great Tanya,” he said, but his body language showed less than great interest. He remained laid out on her settee and hardly turned his head away from the movie he was watching.
She felt mildly irritated. She’d been out all afternoon, searching for the right clothes and her boyfriend couldn’t even be bothered to turn his head. She was conscious this was her house and he inhabited it at her invitation. He could have shown a bit more interest.
“I have been busy all afternoon selecting these. You could at least show a bit of interest,” she chided him, not too strongly.
“You have hundreds of clothes,” he moaned irritably. “Why should these interest me any more than any of the others you have. They’re only clothes. I am sure they are perfectly nice, but I’ve seen you buy hundreds of them!”
She did not bother to find out what film he was watching, but left him alone with it while she went off to make herself another cup of coffee. Thankfully she did not need any more food, having eaten out with Arabella. If she had she would have asked Jude to make them some, but in his mood she might well have come across more surly resistance. Jude was normally a good uncomplaining companion. He was usually only too happy to do things for her, and as far as she understood, had settled into his role as house companion and assistant. She had the money, and unless he wanted a formal paid job somewhere else he might as well accept the pleasant easy lifestyle and travel opportunities which she offered.
She assumed his mood would lift soon and things would get back to normal. Perhaps he just wanted to enjoy his film in peace.
“I want to go to the south of France!” she announced one day. “I want you to come with me. Can you get me some plane tickets, and book a good hotel? I’ll do the card details when you get them ready.”
“You want to go to the south of France…? ….Just like that?” he said, looking quite unready and unwilling. Couldn’t we have had a bit more warning Tanya? You can’t just decide without talking to me first.”
“You don’t usually mind,” she said. “I thought you liked travel, and found it exciting, like I do!”
“I do, and I have enjoyed the places we’ve been,” he said. “But we only got back last week and you want to suddenly go off again. You don’t consult me first anymore! You don’t even ask me. You’ve got so much money you just assume everybody’s ready to go at a moment’s notice.” He was angry, something had definitely sparked him this time. It wasn’t like him, not normally. Usually he was very helpful and happy for her to make the big decisions.
“I have got my parents to visit and other friends to see,” Jude went on. “We’ve only just got back from the last trip, and you want to go off again. I haven’t seen all the people I want to see yet.
“We used to be equal before you won the lottery. Now all the decisions are yours and you have all the money. I don’t even have much money of my own. Everything I do I have to ask you for – for money, or if I can go anywhere. Sometimes I can’t even go out because you want me for something.”
“I’m leaving you Tanya,” he said.
“Leaving me? Why?”
“I don’t suppose it’s easy to help it in your situation, but you seem to feel your money gives you the right to be first in everything. You make all the decisions. You issue the orders. You treat me more like an employee than a boyfriend!”
“I’m sorry Jude. You do effectively work for me. I do in a sense pay your wages. Perhaps we should make it a formal work arrangement. But surely I pay you well enough for many of the things you do for me.”
“It’s not the money. It’s the way you take decisions off me and seem able to find little jobs for me at any time of the day. I am living your life, not my own!
“Why is it that you are able to live the life of your wishes and to dominate me and others to your will? All you have to do is pay money and your will is done. Do you think any more what it may be like to be given orders from someone who was suddenly granted wealth, although she did not earn a penny of it? I assure you it is not pleasurable to receive orders from someone who has not worked for a position of power. I could have been the lottery winner, or any other person down these streets. Why did it have to be you? And yet you think you own me, and you think you own the rest of us. You are no better than any of us. Your money wasn’t deserved. If you could do some good with your money, or at the least if you did not seem so superior I would not mind so much. I know we’ve had some good times, I enjoyed them too. I have benefited from your lottery win too, I know that. But there’s no need for you to be so superior, because you aren’t, and you don’t deserve to be!”