Celtic Illumination, part 251, The men who know everything about nothing.
Some of you might be thinking that I was suffering from an absence of luck. However many of you will know by now that luck never featured in my life, at all. The double top secret cabal who were secretly guiding my life from one experience to another, so that they could prepare me to be the greatest king of Ireland, ever, planned everything. I’m sure if we got a hold of Tim Hirschman today, he might give us some insight into the pressure they must have brought to bear on him, to make him tell me that there was no job for me, they probably even tortured him. I mean, I had given up my career in the air force, admittedly I had been put into the trade of air traffic control, which I hated, but never the less, a secure job doing something you didn’t like, was ten times better than no job at all. Especially when I now had a wife and three children to support.
The air force would want their house back too, so there was a little bit of pressure put on me to find somewhere to live. Our original plan was for Irene and the children to live with her mother for a few weeks while I settled myself into the new job in Ireland, then rent temporary accommodation till we could have our dream house constructed. I suppose if living a perfect life was easy, everybody would be doing it. There was Abbey Life but I promise you, they were worse than air traffic control. It’s bad enough to meet an educated person whose sole motivation in life is greed, but for people with limited intelligence and ability it’s quite an uncomfortable thing to have to watch. I did have an idea concerning the armed forces and the life insurance industry, but that’s what it was, an idea, you can’t feed the children on ideas.
Abbey Life had launched a whole new series of products which came under the name ‘Master’, so for life cover the plan was Cover Master. A mortgage came under Mortgage Master, a savings plan was Wealth Master, there was Health Master and so on, I’m sure you understand the concept. So I named my idea Forces Master, I wasn’t going to try to come up with anything special for the forces as in cheaper rates for some products, what I was going to do was change the approach of how the company and the client connected. What I was about to attempt actually fell in alongside most of the thinking in the insurance industry, as in; it had a mathematical base to it. So it was founded on statics and I knew, well; I hoped that this would encourage Abbey Life to support me.
I approached Jack, who unfortunately was morphing into Joe Pearson, without the marching, before my very eyes. He smiled and nodded at the appropriate points as I explained my idea to him and then told me it was very good but I should shut up and go and sell someone a pension plan. I was still getting paid by the air force, and I had accumulated a decent sum that Abbey Life were holding for me. plus there was a gratuity coming to me from the air force so I wasn’t exactly penniless and under pressure to start selling anything to anybody as the rest of the sales force seemed to be doing. I was at one of those points where something has to happen, you yourself don’t realise it but everything seems to be going around in a circle, you need something to focus on, something to give you a new direction. I needed my very own big bang so that my own little universe could start to form and grow.
That’s when the telephone rang. It was my new friend Graham; he was inviting me to lunch. Now for most people an invite to lunch would be a twenty minute journey into town, meet up for an hour and then twenty minutes back. This was Graham, the ex SAS Major, lunch was to be in a bistro in the heart of Soho in London. If a normal person had asked me to lunch in London I would expect somewhere like Claridges, The Ritz or The Dorchester, a bit of style, the chance to rub shoulders with the posh people and celebrities. But a small bistro in the centre of Soho, swamped with the hoi polloi, awash with a sea of sex shops, drenched with drug pushers, pushy pimps, pregnant with prostitutes, peppered with drug addicts and the pavements littered with drunks, did seem to be a more exciting invite.
In fact I knew that a day away would be a good thing for me. It would take my mind off everything and allow me to relax and might perhaps provide that pivotal point that I didn’t really know I so needed at that point. I took the train to London, arriving nice and early which would allow me to indulge in one of my favourite pastimes, which was wandering about, watching people and looking at the architecture. It was a nice day and I thoroughly enjoyed wandering along, with my eyes and ears open wide. I loved the hustle and bustle that was going on all around me. I found Soho and made my way to the small bistro where I was to meet Graham. Surprise, surprise, even thought I was ten or fifteen minutes early Graham was already at the bar, waiting for me.
It was a wine bar so I was presented with a huge glass of red wine and invited to sit with Graham at a small table. We were surrounded with people who seemed to be engrossed in their own little world. I remember that all the tables had paper tablecloths and I thought what a great idea, rather than having to wash them, you just throw them away and replace them. I couldn’t believe that at a table next to us sat two serious looking fellows, media looking types, all yellow spotty braces, red spectacles, shirts that mimicked pyjama tops, who were having some sort of discussion that involved a lot of hand waving. But one of them was scribbling away on the table cloth with a black fountain pen. It certainly was a world I was not accustomed to. Graham was his usual self and was explaining to me that he was doing exceptionally well in London. The branch of Abbey Life he was with was the top producing branch in the company and their offices were right in the heart of Soho, in fact they were a five minute walk away from the bistro we were in.
Typical of Graham I thought, he has a five minute walk to the lunch meeting and I have a two hour train journey. I didn’t really care, I was enjoying my day out and after all it was his invite, he was paying for lunch and I had an appetite like a horse, not to mention the thirst I had on me. By the time we were splitting the dregs of the second bottle of wine and waiting for the waiter to bring us a fresh bottle another fellow joined us. I can’t remember his name but he was Graham’s branch manager who happened to be passing and saw Graham. He joined us for a glass of red and we all chatted away. He asked how I liked Ipswich and I, perhaps because the wine had loosened my tongue, told him exactly what I thought of Ipswich. And then for some reason I explained my plan for the Forces Master project.
It was all good fun and Graham’s branch manager left us to it. We downed a few grappa’s and then I accepted Graham’s offer to go back to their offices for some coffee and a tour. Now I’m sure you think that all offices were the same but this office had a sauna and gym. I met a few more people and drank my coffee before making my way back to the station and my train back to Ipswich. The next day as I went in to the office I sat and wondered about my experience in the London the day before. Graham seemed to be happy and successful, but then he was a bullshitter of the highest order, and one of those strange things happens. You know when you are thinking about someone and they contact you, well; next thing you know is that I am on the telephone to Graham, he called me. Lovely to see you, thanks for the lunch, a great day was had by all. It was the usual formalities until Graham said; the branch manager wants you to join our branch. He likes you, but loves your forces idea and is willing to back you all the way. I put the receiver back down and my mind was in overdrive. It was an exciting offer, it wasn’t Dublin, wrong fecking direction, perhaps a slight detour on my way back home, but at least it seemed to be umpteen times better than Ipswich and the men who knew everything about nothing, twice.