Donald MacInnes: It's bad enough being skint, but when a kid gets £20m....

In The Red
  • @DonaldAMacInnes

If there's one thing guaranteed to bring out our inner green monster, it's hearing the news that someone has come into a large amount of money. Suitcase money, I call it: money that, by rights, should never be carried around in anything smaller than a valise.

Of course, most people who find their carry-on luggage getting markedly heavier overnight will be lottery winners (and a goodly pox on them, obviously). But if there is a demographic that – if anything – conjures up even greater mean-spirited feelings of I-wish-that-was-me covetousness, it is when young people – and specifically teenagers – make a fortune at an age when the rest of us were either indulging in panting, urgent shenanigans in the darkness of the school disco or were stuck in our bedrooms, listening to mournful, angsty tunes from songwriters doing their best to make us feel better (worse) about our lack of panting shenanigans, whether urgent or not.

Monday's revelation that 17-year-old Wimbledon kid Nick D'Aloisio had sold his mobile phone app, called Summly, to Yahoo for £20m or so – while also securing high-paying jobs with the internet behemoth for himself and his associates (for this, read: his mates in the computer club) – made me nauseous beyond belief. It wasn't so much that this youth had, at a stroke, excelled my professional achievements a hundredfold (as I often say, there will always be someone earning more than you, so no sense being dissatisfied). It's that this adolescent captain of industry, when asked by a reporter what he was going to be spending his windfall on, replied that he was going to get some trainers and a new computer.

In the realm of irritants, this shot straight into the Top Five, no problem. New trainers and a bloody computer? Really. Look, even if your imagination is as limited as this threadbare little shopping list would suggest, couldn't you just pretend that you're going to buy a gleaming white boat (named "Dirty Girl") and spend your twenties fishing for marlin and swordfish off the coast of Florida, while your butler (who's called Betsy and wears a coconut shell bikini top and grass skirt) serves you regular pina coladas and cheese on toast? Not a lot to ask, is it?

But I shouldn't be jealous. I don't really have a great desire to be a computer whiz-kid, taking my place as a cog in Yahoo's endlessly spinning mechanism of digital fabulousness. Maybe I'm just jealous of people like Nick D'Aloisio, whose surname starts with a D'. Like D'Artagnan from The Three Musketeers. Maybe it would help if I started using the name Donald D'MacInnes. Or maybe I should have just tried harder at school. Either way, good luck, Nick. I bear you no ill will.

Yeah, right.