Celtic Illumination, part 257, Noblesse oblige, mon cul.
Well; things were happening, I couldn’t have told you what was happening as Graham was in charge. Being a typical officer he kept everything he intended to do to himself and didn’t have to explain himself to anyone as he was always right. I was quite happy to follow along in his wake, but under no circumstances was he telling me what to do. The parking area at his house was a single narrow lane along the side of the house so when we needed a car we used the one at the head of the queue. So I found myself and my hangover sitting in the passenger seat, of my own car, being driven into central London. I knew we were off to meet the people at Canon Life, but that was all I knew. Graham drove as he spoke, I don’t mean he was speaking to me as we drove along, he couldn’t speak to me as he was too busy shouting at all the other drivers on the road, as I played the age old game of how far can I slink down in this seat?
I never knew my little car could go so fast, especially in central London. Thankfully we arrived at our destination and went in to meet our new sponsors. There were two fellows in the office and I was slightly taken aback that they were both much younger than I was. I felt quite uncomfortable actually as they really were spivs, horrible people whose only interest in life was the accumulation of wealth. One of them took me over to the main window and pointed at a Porsche motor car across the street. “I’ve just paid cash for that,” he bragged. “Play your cards right and you could have one in a week or two.” The last thing a good ol boy like me would do would be drive a fecking Porsche, they may have had a decent turn of speed but how much poteen could you get in the boot?
Graham was doing all the talking and occasionally he would mention me and say that I had this whizzo idea for the armed forces. By lunch time we were heading back to Wallingford and Graham was on top form. Seems that everything had been given the go ahead, Canon Life were opening an office in Wallingford, there would only be three of us in the office and we would be supported by two secretaries. Graham proudly gave me a pack of our new business cards; they read Duffield, Howard and associates. As you know I had been called many things in my life but never an associate and who was this Howard fellow? “Ah, says Graham, you’ll meet him this evening, Phillip Howard, the Duke of Norfolk’s son.” Graham spoke the name with reverence, it didn’t really mean anything to me, it was just the son of some aristocrat. I have to admit I had seen his house for it was where they filmed Brideshead Revisited.
Phillip pitched up that evening and the three of us went over to a small restaurant for a meal and an explanation from Graham as to what we would be up to. There were three main directions we would follow. There was a huge council housing estate on the outskirts of Oxford and many of the people were desperately trying to exercise their right to buy. Graham would lead that push; we had a couple of friends on board who would rush the paperwork through on a nod and a wink. There was a solicitor, a bank manager and a surveyor. The whole thing was driven by greed and no questions were asked, it was a guaranteed stream of money that would flow for as long as we wanted. Our second direction was down to Phillip Howard, an odious little man who really did deserve to be taken outside and shot, or at least severely beaten on a daily basis, although I understand many aristocrats enjoy that sort of thing.
On meeting me he explained that he had attended boarding school in Ireland where they would astonish the local traders as they would pay for goods and services by cheque, from their own little bank at the school. I could quite clearly see why many Irish people wanted to take these fools outside and shoot them. He really was the sort of person who wasted fresh air by breathing. Phillip’s job fitted him perfectly; he was to be a Judas, a snitch, a horrible little sneaky shit who fitted perfectly his mantle of English aristocrat. Philip knew many of the Lords and Ladies in London, but he knew them very well and knew who had large amounts of cash floating about. Phillip would introduce Graham, who really could sell snow to Eskimo’s, and then I would be sent in to sign them up. I was the one with the investment license.
The third and final string to our bow was the forces project, but the products Canon Life had did not fall under the same umbrella as those from Abbey life had done. It would take some thinking about, but at least I knew I would probably come up with another killer idea, I just didn’t know when. We really were quite busy in and around that council estate on the outskirts of Oxford. Thatcher had done her job well and you could almost see the sea of greed sweep through the estate. I found it quite funny that here I was giving people financial advice and arranging mortgages for them while most of the business community in Ipswich were taking legal action against me. It was like emptying a bath full of water with a bucket, but the bucket has a huge hole in it.
My best earnings were from arranging investments. Phillip would be out and about meeting and talking to his friends he would then come to the office and tell us who had what. I remember Graham asking me to pick Phillip up from the train station one morning, which I reluctantly did. Phillip talked all the way back from the station to the office telling me that he had been to Annabel’s the previous evening where he had been drinking bottles of champagne that cost six hundred pounds each. I most certainly was impressed for I now knew that the fellow was a confirmed dick head. He insisted on calling it the most elegant private members club in the world so I simply had to refer to it as a dicso. The only thing I knew about Annabel’s is that Prince Andrew had once been refused entrance for not wearing a tie, well done say I, you would never see me going to a disco without a tie. I think Phillip eventually managed to understand that I didn’t like him or even rate him as a human being. If only the English had taken a leaf out of the French’s book and chopped all their fecking heads off, the world would be such a better place.
The three of us would be sitting in the office and Phillip would tell us the details about some titled person. Graham would sit and take notes I would be getting the A to Z map out. Phillip would telephone the person and chat, about how fabulous they were and at the appropriate place in the conversation would explain that the fellow they had mentioned the previous evening, Graham, had just walked in, why not have a word. Graham would now take over and start talking investments, guaranteeing that no matter what sum they invested it would double within the week. The closing statement would normally be something along the lines of, “I’ll send my man over with the paperwork.” I was ‘the man’ and actually did play the part of the subservient Irishman, touching his forelock to his wonderful English masters.
What the aristo’s didn’t know is that I had been trained by Jack in Ipswich and I knew that the most important thing in these people’s lives was not just what they thought of themselves but what they hoped other people thought or said about them. So I would sit down and work my way through the forms and then ask them to confirm how much they would like to invest. It didn’t matter what they said, for it was never enough, and as we were earning a percentage of whatever they invested, I knew my job was to get as much from them as I possibly could. I might have been moving towards becoming a proper salesman with absolutely no morals whatsoever but these people were not nice people. Someone might say two hundred and fifty thousand. I would then act shocked, “Is that all?” I would say. They would ask why I queried the amount and I would say “Graham told me you were rich!” I would embarrass the money out of them, play with their pride, and although I was really going against my beliefs I enjoyed toying with the aristocracy which did make me wonder how on earth they ever got their positions in the first place.