My mother died intestate, leaving a small amount of money and very few possessions - the odd thing of sentimental value, but almost nothing of financial worth. My sister, brother and I got together to talk about who was to have what, and there were problems from the start, because Mum had made various promises and, as there were no witnesses, there was a suspicion that people were makings things up. At one point, my brother approached me and suggested we cut my sister out. He would have cut us both out if he could, because he had this idea that he was really entitled to the lot. Then my sister pitched in and acquired a long list of possessions she seemed keen on at the time. Today they're stacked in her garage. She can't give the stuff away. It was just this competitive free market situation, and individualism reared its ugly head.
When a friend of mine, an elderly academic, died, his widow decided she wanted to sell some of his antiques. He'd been a bit of a collector, and had a very good eye for nice pieces. There was a painting that I wanted, to remember him by - I had been very fond of him - and I offered her pounds 400, which was the most I could afford, and which seemed to me more than reasonable. But she wouldn't sell it to me for that, she put it in an auction instead, and it didn't even reach its reserve. I don't know what she did with it in the end, but she took it out of the sale - she didn't make anything at all. I'm afraid I thought that served her right for being greedy.
At my birthday party, one of my friends had lots of sausages and crisps and a very big piece of cake. Then she tore one of my parcels open. I thought she was very greedy. I'm never greedy.
As an only child I find it very hard not to be greedy. I was not brought up to understand sharing. Even today, if I'm cutting something in two, I have a great urge to take the larger portion. I have to force myself to give it to the other person.
I once interviewed a famous film star for work (he had better remain nameless) and he sat and ate chocolate all the way through, and didn't offer me any. I was furious, I could barely speak for annoyance.
I'm not greedy about food; it's wine with me, really. It's guzzling the stuff beyond what I know is right, beyond what I need or even really want, and always wanting to have that extra glass. I do remember one instance of greed, though. When my former boyfriend's mother died, his father started dating another woman, and he got all panicky about his inheritance, in case the pair of them frittered it away. He couldn't be pleased for his dad. I was deeply shocked, I thought that was greedy. It was the reason I split with him.
I bought three scratch cards, and one of them was worth pounds 10. It was a friend's birthday, and I thought I might give it to her so she could buy 10 scratch cards, just for a bit of fun. Then I started thinking, what if she won? Far from being pleased at the prospect, I felt quite sick. That money ought to be mine! In other words, I was happy to give her a tenner. I was happy for her to blow it on 10 useless bits of card. But I didn't want to "give" her a notional pounds 50,000. I've still got that card. I haven't cashed it in. When I look at it, it reminds me what a greedy person I am at heart.
Whenever I stay in a hotel or travel on an overnight sleeper, I can't resist picking up the free shower cap, the nasty little bar of soap, the bath gel ... I find myself thinking, "Oh, those could be useful". Or I'll take the little sachets of coffee and cocoa, although I draw the line at teabags. It's ludicrous when you think what these things cost to buy. The other thing is help-yourself hotel breakfasts. As a vegetarian, I find myself patrolling the buffet, thinking "can I manage some more tomatoes and eggs since I'm paying the full fry-up price?"
Whenever I go out for a Chinese or Indian meal, once I've ordered, and before the food has even arrived, I find myself worrying in case I haven't ordered enough. Or, if I'm with a group of people, I worry that they will eat more than their share. I sometimes call the waiter over and order an extra rice dish just in case. I don't know why I do this; it's not as if I've ever gone hungry.Reuse content