When I was 16 I went to work as an apprentice in a factory.
At the factory, in the pub, all through school, growing up on a council estate, all anyone ever talked about was whatever was on the telly.
I was so bored I wanted to find a way out, so when I was 17 my dad said I could go back to school to do A levels.
It was a very different school to the secondary-mod school I’d gone to.
Girls here didn’t discuss the TV, they discussed art: Henry Moore and Modigliani; boys discussed literature: Kafka and James Baldwin; and music: Miles Davis and Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee – all people I’d never heard of.
Of course they were into the same things as normal kids: mod fashions, Motown, and pubs, but a whole new world opened up that I hadn’t known existed.
And it opened up the idea of a life – where you didn’t have to fit in with any other group and only enjoy the same things that they enjoyed.
It opened up the idea of a bohemian life of ‘pick & mix’.
And I realised it’s not the physical world that stops you being free, it’s your own mind.
Which made me realise, it isn’t money that sets you free.
What makes you free is the breadth of possibilities that you have in your mind.
If you don’t have any possibilities, money can’t make you free.
For instance, Michael Carroll was a binman on garbage-trucks in Norfolk.
Like me, he’d been to secondary-mod school.
in 2002, when he was 19, he won £9.7 million on the lottery.
He thought that money would open up his life to amazing possibilities.
But the only possibilities are what’s in your head.
So he spent the money on cars, booze, drugs, and prostitutes.
He bought a 3-acre farm and turned it into a banger-racing track, for dirt-bikes and demolition derbies.
He had orgies with 8 girls at a time where coke was served on silver trays.
He was arrested for driving around town, catapulting metal balls from his Mercedes, smashing up 32 car and shop windows.
He called himself ‘The Lotto Lout’ and ‘King of the Chavs’.
After a few years he was bankrupt and had to go on the dole.
He had been given more money than most people dream of and all he did was waste it.
Because those were all the possibilities he had in his mind.
He didn’t know there were any possibilities beyond sex, drugs, cars, and fighting.
So when he was given a ton of money, he just bought more of those things.
He couldn’t spend money on things he didn’t even know existed.
But to open up your mind to a world of freedom doesn’t actually cost money.
Of course, if you’ve got money you can do amazing things, but not unless you know those things exist in the first place.
That’s why real freedom is knowledge.
If no one ever showed you the possibilities, how are you supposed to know?
Without any education you only have one criteria, whatever is more expensive: if it costs more it must be better.
But that’s not thinking, that’s not freedom, that’s just Donald Trump.
Mary Wells was the highest-paid person in advertising, more than any man, she was inspirational, when she was asked what her life-secret was she said:
“You can’t just be you. You have to double yourself.
You have to read books on subjects you know nothing about.
You have to travel to places you never thought of travelling.
You have to meet every kind of person and endlessly stretch what you know.”
Of course money can help as a means to an end, but it’s not an end in itself.