If I Win The Lottery Tonight...

Gary Strivens, restaurateur

THE FIRST thing I would ask myself is what sort of win have I enjoyed. To be sharing pounds 5m between, say, six of you is a totally different proposition to winning pounds 5m outright. Let's be positive and say that I've won the Lottery outright - it might even be a rollover.

Being a sensible chap, I would pay off the mortgage, clear my overdraft, reduce my credit card balances to zero and, in the short term at least, put a big smile on my bank manager's face by depositing the whole lot in my local bank account.

Being a philanthropic type of chap, I would put aside a generous amount for a number of charities, for which I have a great deal of respect: Save the Children and The Omerod School at Oxford, which does fantastic work with physically and mentally handicapped kids, to name just two.

I'd then purchase the dream midnight-blue Aston Martin convertible and replenish my wardrobe with beautifully made shirts - a passion of mine.

Something I've never been able to contemplate acquiring but would love to collect is Impressionist art. A Monet would be fantastic - if it could ever be taken out of the bank vault that is.

Realistically I couldn't just give up my job because I need the stimulation and enjoy the challenges that running a group of restaurants brings. I have, though, always yearned to travel; not taking a year out was a big mistake. A few months out and about would be good - preferably involving trekking and backpacking in the Himalayas. It would be relaxing and invigorating, a perfect way to find out something about myself and to recharge my batteries for whatever direction I choose to go in, post-expedition.

First though: a colossal fireworks party - to go with a bang. My eight-year-old son, Henry, would push the button that sets it off - he would love that. Then I'd buy myself a violin, which would perhaps be the biggest benefit of winning the Lottery. It provokes the thought that Lottery win or not, I can still go trekking, (as long as the love of my life will come with me), and fulfil my dream. The violin would still be put to good use, of course, paying for our keep.

Beyond that - who knows, a restaurant or bar somewhere hot, in Europe perhaps. I'd like to be the convivial maitre d' of a bustling hostelry. If there is one thing I find really hard to come to terms with here in England, it is the appalling weather we constantly endure. It never ceases to amaze me how regularly we manage to achieve new records, be it for the wettest, coldest or least number of sunshine hours.

Gary Strivens runs the Browns restaurant chain. A new branch opens in Edinburgh on Thursday.

Interview by Diona Gregory

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