Everyone in Britain in 1996 who does the lottery and who has heard of Richard Branson thinks his greatest success would have been if his bid to run the National Lottery as a non-profit making concern had won, instead of those sharks who profit by a million a week. Only 6p in every pound bet goes to charity! Let's hope a chance like this will arise again for Branson. We want amiable examples, as well as money-grabbing ones, to influence society. In the meantime, Virgin Records, Virgin Airways, Mates and Virgin Healthcare are a fine cv. Send up the balloons!
Do we need Richard Branson? I doubt that "we" need him at all. However, "they", Britain's ruling class, need him desperately. He is among the very few credible figures they can field.
Noel Edmonds? Jeremy Beadle? Salman Rushdie? Matthew Kelly? Robin Cook? Prince Michael of Kent? Oliver Reed? We obviously do need Richard Branson, if only as a role model for those contemplating facial hair.
Yes, please! We need Richard Branson to effect a sustainable transport system here and throughout the world, starting with Heathrow. Enough is enough for the people affected. Share the air traffic round UK airports. Control "BAA BAA lack sleep" and its swamping of the airways and runways. Virgin can do it. Take a lead again, Richard.
This country desperately needs the gusto, lack of inhibition and healthy disrespect for convention that Richard Branson displays. Personally, I do not need to see his grinning face in my newspaper each time he embarks on another boyish and ill-conceived ballooning adventure, but the grin, the boyishness and the beard are part and parcel of the man and I am happy to put up with them for all the other qualities he supplies.