Magazine article The Spectator

Feeling Green

Magazine article The Spectator

Feeling Green

Article excerpt

I spent last Sunday leafing through the Sunday Times 'Rich List' seeing how many people I know have made it into the top 1,000. I've been doing this since the Sunday Times first started publishing the list in 1988 and each year it becomes more and more depressing. Not only does the number of my acquaintances on it increase, but the chances of ever getting on it myself grow smaller and smaller. Actually, to be perfectly honest, there was never any possibility I'd get on it, but as each year passes that becomes clearer and clearer. It's an annual reminder that I'm a big fat loser.

First the good news. My old Oxford tutorial partner, Tim Jackson, is clearly in a great deal of trouble. According to the Mail on Sunday, which published its 'Rich List' a week earlier, the 35-year-old founder of QXL.corn was worth 020 million on 12 March. On 19 March, by contrast, the Sunday Times estimated his wealth at 272 million. Now, I know that some cynics will put this discrepancy down to the fact that any estimate of an individual's net worth is bound to be highly speculative, but I prefer to think that Jackson has lost 48 million in the space of a week. At that rate his fortune will be completely wiped out by I June.

Now for the bad news. Matthew Freud, who at 36 is the same age as me, is a new entry this year with an estimated net worth of 75 million. I can't claim to be a friend of Mr Freud but I did have the pleasure of attending a wedding with him once. I remember being very excited because the bride, an old friend of mine, had promised to seat me next to Helena Bonham Carter.

You can imagine my shock, therefore, when I found myself sitting next to Matthew Freud's wife instead. I scanned the room and, sure enough, there was the slippery PR man, grinning from ear to ear, sitting next to the gorgeous, pouting actress. It transpired that he'd crept out of the service and reshuffled the name-cards. On my other side was the groom's mother.

The only pleasure I derive from the list is confirming that some of the most successful members of my peer group haven't yet made it on. Each year I turn the pages of the 'Rich List' with trembling fingers expecting to come across the name of William Hamilton-Dalrymple, the dazzlingly successful travel writer. …

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