'Very disturbing developments down London Underground,' said the chairman of the insignificantly-siz...
'Very disturbing developments down London Underground,' said the chairman of the insignificantly-sized investment company SmallBlue Planet. 'All that stuff about terrorist plots and cyanide gas, you mean?' I replied.
'Not really,' said the chairman. 'More that somebody has apparently taken out one of those large platform advertisements.'
'What's so unusual about that?' I asked. 'It's an investment company that's done it,' said the chairman. 'Good grief,' I said. 'That really is news. After their prolonged absence, I just assumed investment ads had been made illegal ' too many punters falling asleep and onto the track after reading them or something.'
'No, no,' said the chairman. 'No connection was ever proved. We're still allowed to advertise ' it's just that none of us has been able to afford to. But now Isis has ' it's like the first cuckoo of spring.'
'Certainly 'cuckoo' seems to fit in here somewhere,' I said. 'Although it could just be the idea of you taking the tube.' 'Don't be absurd,' replied the chairman. 'I never said I was on the Underground ' I merely said an ad had apparently been taken out.'
'So you did,' I conceded. 'In that case, if we might make the jump to ads we actually have seen, what do you think of Insight's fried eggs on the girl's forehead?' 'Like it might be tempting fate to go for an 'egg on face' theme?' suggested the chairman. 'Yes, that had struck me too,' I said. 'As had the joke about a girl being asked how she'd like her eggs in the morning and replying 'unfertilised'. And then of course there's the old US anti-drugs commercial with the egg in the frying pan ' 'This is your brain on drugs'.'
'Amazing how an advertisement can work on so many levels,' mused the chairman before exclaiming: 'Good heavens, I thought he was dead.' 'Who now?' I said wearily ' this being the sixth time in two hours the chairman had said something similar.
'Him,' said the chairman. 'Over in the corner. Looks like a chubbier version of old what's his name only with more wrinkles and less hair. We did some very lucrative deals together in the late 70s. Excuse me a moment.' And with that he moved purposefully towards the other side of the room, pausing only to have his champagne glass recharged.
This gave me a chance to peruse the room and I had to admit I could see why the chairman was so excited. The occasion was Julian Gibbs's 70th birthday party, hosted by Threadneedle and to which a truly unholy section of Her Majesty's financial services industry had been invited. Looking around at all these legends in their own lunchtime, I suddenly felt very honoured to have been asked ' after all, apparently the guest of honour had been allowed to veto the list and, from what I'd heard, had set about the task with great gusto.
As with his taste in fine wines and restaurants, his choice of guests had been spectacular and I felt a hangover coming on just by being in the same room as many of them. Speaking of which, the chairman had wandered back in my direction. 'Quite a stellar turn-out,' I said. 'Absolutely,' he replied. 'A real measure of the man, as is the fact he's the only person I know who's bounced back from more ¦ er ¦ cashflow challenges than me. And indeed that he can claim to be one of the founding fathers of both personal finance journalism and independent financial advice.'
'My, he does have a lot to answer for,' I said. 'Well, for my part, I'm always impressed to find somebody over 40 at least partly earning a living from journalism and, in fact, anyone at all connected with this business who's made it to 70.'
'And don't forget all the people in this room who've worked for him,' added the chairman. 'That's right,' I said. 'I'm told that once you've worked for Julian Gibbs, you'll never be fazed by another boss. He once told me that if you don't shout at employees, how will they ever learn?'
'Fair point,' said the chairman, adding: 'You know, I almost worked for him way back when the days were the days.' 'You're kidding,' I said. 'What happened?' 'He told me that if I was so clever, why didn't I go and start a business of my own. You know, I think I'll go and thank him again.'
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