The chairman goes in search of his ideal partner
'What sort of qualities do you look for in an ideal partner?' I asked the chairman of the insignificantly sized investment company SmallBlue Planet as I delicately raised a pint of Granny MacLeod's 12-Bore to my mouth with my non-drinking arm. We were sitting in the back of The Chatham Rules trying to numb the pain generated by the previous day's exercise of shooting at clay pigeons and not hitting very many.
'Oh, you know, the usual,' replied the chairman smiling at the barmaid he'd talked into helping him drink his own pint so he didn't have to raise his arms at all. 'Stout liver, good credit rating, no more than a couple of years inside for fraud.'
'No, no,' I said. 'I think you misunderstand me. I wasn't talking about business partners but about ladies of the opposite female gender. I mean, what first attracted you to Mrs Chairman?'
'It's all such a long time ago it's almost as if she's always been with me,' sighed the chairman, scratching his head and then wincing at the effort of raising his arm. 'And of course she has so many qualities. Still, if you pushed me, I'd have to say that probably her most attractive trait is her unrivalled grasp of the LBW law.'
'What a woman,' I replied.
'Yes, she was quite a catch,' nodded the chairman almost dreamily. 'But what led you to bring up the subject?'
'To tell the truth,' I said. 'It was something I was sent by the good, good people at Halifax, the leading distributor of surveys of questionable relevance to Her Majesty's press.'
'Rumour has it they are also something in the savings world,' interjected the chairman.
'Really,' I said. 'I must look out for that. Anyway, back in their day-job, they have dug up a survey that found some two-thirds of all Britons believe being able to manage your money well makes you more attractive to the opposite sex and is definitely more important than having a good dress sense or owning your own home.'
'Hang on a moment,' interrupted the chairman. 'Surely if that were true, there would be no unmarried fund managers.'
'Not necessarily and for a number of reasons,' I replied. 'Not least the shocking possibility that not all fund managers are good at running money.'
The chairman looked doubtful. 'On the other hand,' I said. 'If that concept is a little too radical for you, would you feel better with the idea that it could come down to the survey finding that two qualities that were even more attractive than managing money well were intelligence and a good personality?'
'That does make a bit more sense, said the chairman. 'But tell me, what about wealth? Where does that come in the scheme of great attractions.'
'Pretty low by all accounts,' I said. 'According to the survey, only one in four people in the UK are attracted by a large bank balance. In fact, it would appear more than twice as many people have their boat floated by a strong work ethic and no fewer than 83% of all those canvassed said they liked a nice smile.'
'Oh do me a favour,' snorted the chairman. 'Who exactly was being surveyed? The Mills and Boon Society? Congenital Liars Anonymous?'
'Nope,' I said examining the small print of the survey. 'This just provides a breakdown by sex and age group. There's nothing about the respondents being unreliable or living in a dream world.'
'Probably forgot to put it in the notes,' said the chairman. 'Anyway I'm not convinced ' although, come to think of it, is there anything in there that might suggest why Aberdeen and New Star might have become so pally?'
'You mean what sort of attractive qualities Martin Gilbert and John Duffield might have seen in each other as potential partners before the Edinburgh deal?' I said. 'Well, I could have a look but I think the answer is pretty much going to be 'Nothing I would care to say out loud'.'
'Then maybe you could lend me the survey and I'll see what I can find,' said the chairman. 'In the meantime, maybe we should order some shots ' get it?'
'Don't,' I said. 'Sense of humour may have come second in the survey of people's priorities with 89% but in my world that quality is confined only to people who laugh at my jokes and not vice versa.'
An ambitious objective
'Something completely new'
'Illusion of control'
Reasons to be cheerful
Total investment reaches £9m