The chairman outlines his plot for a Hollywood blockbuster
'So as he's pedalling back from the pub, our hero realises he's forgotten his wallet and keys and the wife's not home,' continued the chairman of the insignificantly sized investment company SmallBlue Planet breathlessly. 'He has to turn his bike round to head back to the City and he's almost made it to his office when the police, alerted by his unusual style of cycling, try to pull him over.
'Rather than face the consequences, our hero decides to make a run for it and scoots down a pedestrian street but this only piques the interest of the boys in blue, who are now convinced they are on the trail of a top-class terrorist. Reinforcements pick our hero up at the other end of the street and he's hauled off to the cells where of course he's unable to prove he's not Osama Bin Tradin' because he's not got his wallet, the wife's uncontactable as, too, after a fine night out, is his boss.'
The chairman paused for breath and took a sip of his pint of Open Savannah. I had a swig from my own pint of Darting Dolphin and looked around The Meniscus of Accepted Norms, a somewhat pretentious pub frequented by media analysts, as I weighed up how to respond to what he had told me.
'Who were we talking about again?' I said, playing for time. 'Oh, do pay attention,' said the chairman with more than a trace of a huff. 'I told you at the start it wasn't an anecdote. It's the beginning of a new Hollywood blockbuster I've been working on about the rough and tumble of life in an insignificantly sized investment company. Sort of Diehard meets The Money Programme, if you like. So what do you think of it so far?'
It seemed tactful to avoid the traditional response. Instead I said carefully: 'I'm not sure where I stand on combining financial services and rough and tumble. I've no doubt I found the recent adventures of The Incredible Isa-Man as thrilling as the next person ' and it's jolly nice to know that one man can be a hero for a day.
'But as for your cycle chase, well, I'd hate to rain on your metaphorical Isa season any more than your three remaining investors already have, but I reckon I've come across a few examples of more convincing fiction in the last few weeks. For a start, there was that ad from DBS that the FSA valued at £100,000 for being a little on the optimistic side about protected Isas.
'Then there's the potential bio-pic material provided by Halifax, which sees John Major's 60th birthday as the perfect excuse for a retrospective of his time at Downing Street ' and of course that letter from Isis to one current inhabitant of the same road.
'Speaking of optimism, as we just were, it does seem rather hopeful to try and persuade the most socialist Chancellor since Denis Healey to change his mind on scrapping dividend tax credits. It was a jolly lovely letter but I suspect any reply will be somewhat shorter ' along the lines of 'Dear Isis, Haven't you worked it out yet? I don't care. Yours sincerely, Gordy Brown.'
'But the most extraordinary thing I have seen recently, and one that deserves filming in the same way an appearance by the Loch Ness monster would, is the FSA's conclusion that ' wait for it ' they won't be relaxing the rules on the marketing of hedge funds to private investors.
'I mean, bless their little regulators' regulation-issue nylon socks. It wasn't the trickiest problem they've ever faced ' the question of unleashing really scary products on private punters when they don't even trust them to buy a with-profits bond ' but they haven't ducked it. I don't know what to be more impressed by ' that the FSA actually managed to come to a conclusion, that it was a sensible one or that it only took them a mere six months to do so. It's a significant coup for the boys at Canary Wharf and definitely worthy of a film. I'm sure Robert de Niro could really sink his teeth into the role of Howard Davies.'
'I've been thinking about who might play me,' said the chairman, anxious to get back in on the act. 'I haven't seen Cary Grant or Jimmy Stewart around for a while but I'm told some chap called George Clooney might make an adequate alternative.'
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