guilt gluttons and goats

The other day I got a call from Nicky. He found ‘Buffy Holt’ after a friend of a friend pointed out I’d been writing about his grandfather and that summer in France; he sent me a lovely photo of the three of us and said I should post it.

I said “No thank you. I’d just as soon leave you shrouded in a shred of anonymity in case I want to repeat something I shouldn’t.” I find this approach works best with a family who keeps an entire firm of lawyers on retainer…just in case. So, the old man’s dear face will stay out of my blog. Nicky’s words to me will not.

He called to moan. To call himself “poverty stricken”. He does this every now and again. Calls me to grieve. Because I’m the only person he knows without a trust fund and he assumes I understand what it’s like to be poor. (Note: Poor in Nicky’s world does not translate to poor in any other.)

His grandfather left him a fortune, but it’s tied up in rules and stipulations and he hates it.

“Can you believe it, Buffy? I had more than this at Uni.”

Of course he still has regular use of family homes, cars etc, but he doesn’t get a cent above two million a year (Dollars or Euros…I didn’t ask) unless he has a legitimate job – as determined by a Trustee – then he gets more.

“If I have a job,” he said, “Why do I need more? It’s when I’m unemployed that things are hard. Pappou never made things easy for me.”

‘Easy’ is being able to buy a Spyker C8 and not feel the pinch.


I laughed until I almost threw up. “Oh, puhlease. You’re calling me to moan because your grandfather is making you draw out 90million 2 at a time?”

“You say it like I’m over reacting.”

I swear, that’s what he said.

Nicky is a darling. When he’s broke. He can eat supermarket cereal, laugh with you at Family Guy and be friendly to your friends.

When he has money. He is a mystery. An unpleasant one. One with no time for anyone or anything that matters. His grandfather knew it. And he knows it. (You know you do.)

I told him to shut up.

“Go buy some goats,” I said. “It’ll make you feel better.”

It’s what I do. Treat guilt with goats. Through sustainable livelihood programs like Neighbours Initiative Alliance (NIA) and the Peri-Urban Agriculture Project. It sounds flippant. It’s not.

“Do you have any idea what kind of herd you could buy with 2 million? And I know you make more than that with ‘X’.” When Nicky has a job, it’s as an investment banker at ‘X’.

“Buffy. I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m not good with other people’s money. I can barely manage my own. They don’t want me there.” *Sigh* “I don’t think I’ve ever been this depressed.”

Nicky told me this from a Loft in Chelsea. The one he didn’t buy. He was still in bed. Eating someone else’s eggs. Waiting for a driver to pick him up and take him to a job he didn’t work for.

Money may not buy happiness. But at least you can be miserable in comfort. Nicky is comfortable misery if he’s anything. He’s hard work. But aren’t we all. We’re all wasteful. Gluttonous. If we don’t feed on food it’s power, prestige or designer duds. It’s sometimes difficult to see beyond our circumstances. To see the world outside our own. But what kind of people are we if we don’t?

I go on about Nicky. I roll my eyes and sit and wonder. But I threw away two bags of half eaten thanksgiving dinner last week. Big. Bin. Bags.

Wonder how many goats that would have bought?

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  • Dawn
    Nov 26, 2006 at 23:01

    Poor Guy

  • Melissa
    Nov 27, 2006 at 5:55

    I’d be more than happy if I had enough money to pay my bills every month! But with winter creeping on, the gas bill is going to skyrocket again.

    It’s amazing how some people’s reality is so drastically different from our own.

  • FollowtheFrog
    Nov 27, 2006 at 8:59

    I like reading about Nicky and your experiences with him. He’s interesting!

  • Kenju
    Nov 27, 2006 at 18:11

    He sounds like a piece of work. Someone needs to teach him how the other half lives.

  • Anne
    Nov 27, 2006 at 22:02

    I think about that all the time – that money does not buy happiness. We see it everyday and it is sad but honestly true.

  • David
    Nov 27, 2006 at 22:08

    If only I should have his problems…

  • Bre
    Nov 27, 2006 at 23:04

    I’m pretty glad that the other half aren’t always blissfully happy. In fact it makes me feel pretty dang glorious.

  • ldbug
    Nov 28, 2006 at 10:09

    Oh if only I were as poor as him!

  • Mademoiselle
    Nov 28, 2006 at 22:10

    Very true. It’s hard to see outside your own shell. But hitting the extent of your limits certainly makes anyone re-evaluate who they are in terms of what they want. (Let’s hope so anyway.)

    So what made London the place to write?

  • Frannie Farmer
    Nov 29, 2006 at 18:11

    Yep, we are all gluttonous in one way or another. It’s all relative, right?
    Excellent stuff Buffy!

  • Fitz
    Nov 29, 2006 at 20:06

    “…at least you can be miserable in comfort.” haha. how absolutely true is that statement. 🙂

  • Andrea
    Nov 29, 2006 at 22:05

    I love the way you tell a story. Fiction, non-fiction, truth, fantasy, doesn’t matter. Your pacing is incredible, with just enough juicy tidbits to keep me hanging on every word. The revelations, when you make them, come with my own internal soundtrack of orchestra music. Whatever the case, it’s always dramatic. I actually gasp, laugh, sigh, and groan out loud when I read your stories. Mostly, it makes me envious of your talent. And really really happy to have found your site.

  • LisaBinDaCity
    Nov 29, 2006 at 22:11

    Nothing like a rich guy whining – SO darn attractive… um NOT 😉

  • Liz
    Dec 19, 2006 at 22:20

    Nicky is making me violently ill.

  • Paperback Writer
    Jan 19, 2007 at 12:12

    Yes, I have a friend like this. Her father spent her and her brother’s inheritance trying to get his company out of trouble. So, instead of the $50 million they were promised – each, they are only getting $1 million.

    Yeah, my heart bleeds for them. Poor them.