"So have you hit the ground running in 2018?" asked the chairman of the improbably-sized investment company Prandeamus Asset Management when I dropped by his office this week.
"I wouldn't go that far," I shrugged. "Although I did think I would at least pick out three winners of our 2017 Christmas quiz and the accompanying £20 Amazon vouchers you so kindly funded."
"That was a remarkably smooth shift from ‘our' quiz to me footing the bill," the chairman observed. "But go on then - who are our lucky winners?" "That's up to you," I reminded him, passing over a metaphorical hat of correct entries from which to pick. "OK," he nodded. "Let me see … financial adviser Angela Davy-Makwana … Damien Lambert of LifePlanning Solutions and … Nick Stebbing of Saltus."
"Great - thank you," I nodded. "I'll sort out the vouchers and we can settle up latter." "I am sure we will," sighed the chairman. "So what were the answers then?" "Well, the first dozen related to quotes from historical or fictional types picked out as potential ‘Adviser Champions' in our video interview series of that name," I explained.
"So ‘You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life' was one of Winston Churchill's; ‘All is for the best in the best of all possible worlds' was Dr Pangloss in Voltaire's Candide; ‘Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication' was Leonardo da Vinci; and ‘It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it' was Aristotle.
"‘Do. Or do not. There is no try' was another great philosopher - Yoda; ‘Difficulties are just things to overcome, after all' was Ernest Shackleton; ‘Economists think about what people ought to do. Psychologists watch what they actually do' was Daniel Kahneman; and, perhaps the most leftfield of all the answers, ‘This pup's gotta fly' was Skye from the cartoon series Paw Patrol.
"‘Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress and working together is success' was Henry Ford; ‘If I say it's safe to surf this beach, Captain, then it's safe to surf this beach' was Lieutenant Colonel Kilgore in Apocalypse Now; ‘Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower' was Steve Jobs; and ‘Every champion was once a contender who refused to give up' was Rocky Balboa.
"Moving on to the second dozen, Phil Collins, Dave Grohl, Meg White and Harry Judd are all drummers; geese can travel as part of a flock, a gaggle or a skein; the men's Olympic gymnastics discipline to be seen in the Olympic logo is rings; and dividing the contents of the pie in ‘Sing a song of sixpence' by six gets you four blackbirds.
"Lord's is the international sporting venue found in London NW8; Alan Partridge is the fictional presenter who fronted Knowing me, knowing Yule; pipers link a pest-controller in a German fairy tale and Pink Floyd's debut album - one being ‘pied' and the other ‘at the gates of dawn'; and, in The Muppet Show, Gonzo had the hots for hens.
"Into the home straight, Margot Fonteyn, Ola Jordan and King Herod's daughter Salome are all lady dancers; a pen, a cob and a cygnet make up a family of swans; and in Home Alone 2, Kevin learns turtle doves are a symbol of friendship and love because they pair up for life. Putting that all together, the connection is ‘The 12 Days of Christmas', which means we were short eight maids-a-milking."
"Amazeballs," said the chairman. "What a twisted mind you have." "Why, thank you," I nodded. "I have learnt from the best. But do you realise that, with ‘hit the ground running' and, um, ‘amazeballs', you have now used two of what have been identified as the five ‘most irritating office phrases for 2018'?" "I see," said the chairman. "And who exactly gets to pronounce on such a weighty matter?"
"A carefully surveyed section of the Great British public ahead of a press release, of course," I replied. "And unless I start ‘thinking outside the box' and stop ‘doing more with less', I dare say we might find out more such phrases and who did the survey when we meet next week."
37 counts of fraud
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Currently has £600m AUM