Here’s a small selection of the answers that people have given to that question. At the top of the list is “immortality”, just one word, without further explanation. The answer betrays a firm belief in one’s own significance. Death is seen as a personal affront. Interestingly, immortality is the superpower of choice for the singer Tom Jones, the philosopher Martha Nussbaum and the founder of Playboy magazine Hugh Hefner. Who would have thought that those three had so much in common!Then there are the do-gooders like the German tennis champion Boris Becker: “To make the world a better place.” That’s very good of him, of course, especially since that is something that money can’t buy, even if you’ve got lots and lots of it. Or is it? Even more absurd is the former British prime minister Gordon Browne’s answer: “Magic medicine. I’d love to be able to fix things for the sick and injured. The NHS is the closest thing to it – that’s why I’m such a passionate advocate of our system and its doctors and nurses.” I guess he can’t help himself.
In comparison the current British leaders David Cameron and his side-kick Nick Clegg appear refreshingly honest and surprisingly unanimous when it comes to their secret dreams. Cameron: “Teleporting – it would save a lot of travel time.” Clegg: “Easy. Teleporting.” Did they actually agree on saying that? What an interesting mixture of boyish romanticism (Beam me up, Scotty), pragmatism, and professionalism, which expresses perfectly both their character and the role they’ve chosen to play.More sinister dreams are voiced by Danny DeVito (“To have people do things the way I want.”) and Lisa Marie Presley (“I’d be a witch.”), and more realistic and modest ones by an ageing Roger Moore (“Being able to get out of a chair without clicking knees or an aching back.”) and the British actor and political activist Tony Robinson who, in days of yore, brilliantly portrayed Rowan Atkinson’s servant Baldrick in Blackadder (“Having to wee only once a day.”)
Then there are the cultured ones like the conductor Daniel Barenboim (“To travel in time – in order to spend a day with Mozart.”) and those who are – how shall I put it? - more at home in the flesh like the late singer Amy Winehouse (“Super sexuality.”)Very popular is also yet another form of easy locomotion. Bruce Willis: “Flying.” Cuba Gooding Jr.: “I dream about flying.” And, last but not least, my absolute favourite, with an unbeatable dry irony, Margaret Atwood: “The flying around thing. With a cape.”