How to live on pounds 20,000 a day
It takes time, energy and imagination to blow a fortune, complain two of the latest lottery winners. Still, only one more million to go. By Emma Cook
Tuesday 24 November 1998
All that prudence and good sense. Even more disappointingly, most winners seem to follow it. So much financial nannying has created a generation of Formica-dull winners who spend their time saying things such as: "We've bought my parents a new house but apart from that we're determined to carry on living as we always did." Same friends, same life, same everything. Let's just pretend it's no big deal.
Why? What on earth is wrong with a bit of flamboyance, excess and sheer tacky hedonism?
Enter Beverley Hutnik and Simon Fullerton-Ballantine, of Gwent, who discovered a month ago that they'd won a pounds 1.89m jackpot on the National Lottery. Rather admirably, they've eschewed all sensible advice in favour of spending like beasts. Instant gratification Viv Nicholson style, and lots of it. Not for them restrained comments to the press and simple living until they've "decided exactly what we want to do". "What's the point of not enjoying it? We've spent our whole lives being sensible," says Simon, lounging around in his brand-new, four-double-bedroom house, complete with a large, heated swimming pool. Not that he can swim, but who cares? Noel Gallagher can't drive his chocolate-coloured Rolls- Royce but then true flamboyance thrives on voracious wants not needs. Bev and Simon's list of wants have cost them a pretty impressive pounds 833 every 60 minutes over the last 30 days - a total of pounds 600,000, or pounds 20,000 a day.
It's been a full-time job - a vocation, even. When Simon saw that golden combination of digits flash up on the TV screen, he acted quickly, phoning work to resign from his pounds 300-a-week job as a floor layer. Fifty per cent of jackpot winners return to their jobs after resigning but you can bet that Simon won't be among them. "I never want to work again. Bev was far more sensible about her job though," he says. "She waited until Monday morning to hand in her notice." Their next step was a visit to a local Porsche showroom. "We went straight there when we found out," says Simon. "You don't even need a credit card. We just showed him our ticket."
So the retail madness began and it hasn't really stopped. Beverley and Simon purchased a Porsche 911, pounds 71,000, and a silver Porsche 911 cabriolet, pounds 74,650. They swiftly visited another garage and bought a red Runaround SLK Mercedes, pounds 34,000, and a limited-edition Range Rover, complete with on-board television and video-recorder. "I felt great," says Simon. "Especially because I only had pounds 5 in my pocket." They've bought two houses, plus one for Beverley's mother and a plot of land for her sister to build a house. Then there are two luxury holidays planned - two weeks in Bali for Simon and his friend, and three weeks in Goa for Bev. There's also a diamond ring from Harrods - price undisclosed. "But it's an investment, isn't it?" says Bev of the hand-made diamond solitaire.
Simon's one brief regret so far is that the money has, in a sense, been a concept. Simon wants to taste his cash as well as spend it. "I've seen bits of money here and there," he says. "But I haven't actually seen a million pounds. If I did I'd dive into it naked." Instead, Simon goes into shops and flashes his ticket. "You can buy as much as you like on it as long as the shop's got Teletext."
It's just a shame that Camelot couldn't include a shopping advisor in their specialist team. When the couple visited London a few weeks ago, they didn't know where to spend their money. In the end Simon bought some designer clothes. "I spent pounds 2,000 on Ciro something or other. Hang on," he fumbles. "I'll just check to see who it is. Ciro Citerio," he reads off a label inside his jacket. "I've got a watch of his, too." But truly excessive spending seems to take some practice. "We couldn't find anywhere to eat and drink," says Simon. What about the Ritz or the Savoy? "I wasn't interested," he says. "I'm used to eating chips and pies. I still know the value of food. I'm not paying pounds 17 for a sandwich." Instead, they went hungry and had a cheeseburger on the train back to Gwent. "And we had to stand all the way," he moans. What about first class? "Oh, I couldn't be bothered to book all that in advance."
While Simon is still enthralled, to say the least, with the joys of retail therapy, Beverley, who was a production operator in an electronics company, seems a little more philosophical. "Money can't make you happier. It's just there to spend. We were happy before this. We got on well and we still do." Like Simon, she'll never go back to work willingly. "It was getting to that point where I thought, oh God, is this is it until I'm 60?" Beverley met Simon eight months ago when they were drinking in a local hotel. A year ago, her fiance had walked out with a younger woman, and she was re-mortgaging her house when she won the jackpot.
Now she seems a little jaded with her four-week spending spree - it's early afternoon and she's in bed. Both of them seem exceedingly tired. Today they've only bought some milk to make a cup of tea, which seems a bit lame. Surely, they're suffering withdrawal symptoms? "I'm fed up with shopping at the moment," says Bev weakly. She has briefly woken up for the interview. "All I want to do is rest."
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