Deborah Ross: I just wish I could give to everyone


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The Independent Online

I won't be contributing to the Dahl family's £500,000 appeal to help restore and shift Roald's shed, if only because I am already contributing towards the shifting of Sir Paul McCartney's pergola, which, sadly, is currently north-facing whereas south-facing would be more the ticket.

Indeed, as his daughter, Stella, so movingly put it when she launched the Sir Paul McCartney Pergola Appeal and before rushing off to design a great deal of over-priced sportswear: "Dad does like to feel the sun on his face and, after all he has done, who would wish to deny him?"

Ideally, I would contribute to both, but times are tight, I'm afraid, plus I've also just donated quite a sum to Simon Cowell, whose tumble-drier is on the blink, and heaven knows how much that is going to cost. An arm and a leg, I suspect.

Parts are never cheap, nor is labour and, blow me, if it didn't break down the day after the warranty ran out. Isn't that always the way? ("It is," sighed Cowell, morosely).

I feel bad about Dahl's shed, I seriously do, and bad for his grand-daughter, Sophie, who referred to it so heart-rendingly as "the poor little hut" and has far better things to do than try to offload the cost on to the nation.

She has her grandfather's royalties to count. She is a TV star. She is a global supermodel. She is the wife of a multi-millionaire musician, to whom she probably says, on her return home in the evenings: "Jamie, I'm pooped, and don't need this, but that poor little hut. I can't just stand by while the British public do nothing about it. What sort of person would that make me?"

If asked, I think I would say to Ms Dahl what I say to 'chuggers' on the street when I'm not quick enough to avoid eye contact. I would say: "I can't afford to give to everybody" and it's true. In fact, JK Rowling was onto me just a few days ago saying she dearly wants a new fitted kitchen and has her eye on Poggenpohl so I had to give it to her straight: "I'm afraid Sir Paul's pergola got in first, love. And if they decide to also move his bench, that's going to be an extra £800,000 at least."

So I feel bad - terrible! - but what can you do, if rich celebrities keep coming at you, cap in hand? Or, as I said to Victoria Beckham who is seeking funds for side-return extension and a new set of saucepans: "What if Sir Paul wants to reposition his little faux wishing well? Had you thought of that?"