Life is what you make of it: a pig’s ear in this instance.
The pedal came off my bike this morning. That is not a metaphor but it is symbolic. Barrelling up the neon corridor of Ludgate Hill at six o’clock, there was a clanking beneath me; my haunches shifted to the left to push my bodyweight down for the next pedal-stroke and over I go, like a little old lady in the snow. The discomfort was nothing to the embarrassment of replacing the contents of my rucksack, which had been sent skimming across the tarmac.
I discovered one cannot ride a bike with only one pedal, but it must have been amusing for passers-by to see me try. I scooted the remainder of my journey, scuttling along in the gutter, propelling myself by pushing off against the kerb with my left leg and humming: “One wheel on my wagon but I’m still rolling along.”
It transpires one can ride a bike with only one pedal “but only if the chain is attached, sir”, said the rather patronising young man in the repair shop at lunchtime. I could see how that would help.
Velocipedal matters joined the many other complaints I incorporated into my morning outgoing to a client — although, as he pointed out, it was not so much a broking call to a fund manager but a suicide’s distress call to the Samaritans of which he was on the receiving end.
He offered the timeworn platitudes and consolations to justify why I have stirred up so much apathy and sales-traded so unsuccessfully at Salvation Bank. He pointed out that I joined just as the lull of the summer months began and so had a cast-iron alibi for my stunning lack of productivity.
Bring in the biz or bring home your box
The thing is, legitimate excuse or not, I don’t think employers care; either you bring in the business and take home the bacon or you don’t bring in the business and you take your belongings home in a small box. If I buy a gaudy Mr Frosty ice-cream van that plays a Greensleeves chime all children find sirenic and I rent a lucrative pitch by the seaside in a coastal resort but it pisses down all summer, then I have a perfectly good reason why I have sold no ice-creams but I’ll have to give up the pitch, turn off the jingle and the van will be impounded by bailiffs. And this is what I most often feel like, Gentle Reader, a vendor of the whipped, cold and creamy, sitting in my van watching the rain streaming down the windscreen like so many tears.
I don’t have any incoming orders but I have solved the problem of incoming calls because Sky has set its debt collectors on me. Tiring of forking out the best part of £1,000 a year pretty much just to watch Everton get walloped in one televised match after another, I tried to close my account last year but, as easy as it was to open, they made it fiendishly difficult to close, using every impediment and all the tricks of prevarication they have perfected over the years. It took me a week to persuade them I really couldn’t be tempted, although I did hold back from telling them the reason was because some scally had driven down from Liverpool and installed an illicit feed so I could watch everything on Sky for nothing.
When the final monthly bill came in, I offered to pay three-quarters of my arrears and no more. They refused to accept it and I refused to pay the full amount.
The Sky is the limit
Fast forward almost 18 months of Mexican stand-off and now I have someone calling me on a daily basis giving it the heavy. It doesn’t make for the best impression at your new shop when someone answers your line and shouts across the floor, “It’s those debt collectors for you again,” but I make out it’s a friend with a repetitive joke and that seems to satisfy them.
I will go to prison before I pay that £20.
Of course, all this drama is being played out while Murdoch is attempting to take over Sky, and the stock is being actively traded on the desk by the risk-arb specialists. I am meant to be broking Emerging Markets but such is my hostility towards Sky that I keep interrupting my commentary on the coups, wars and high-level corruption plaguing my asset class with hostile interjections on the takeover and how it relates to my looming court battle. I have a private fantasy that my fight for justice in the face of corporate malpractice may be able to block the bid altogether. This is shareholder activism.
While I wait for an order or to be flung into the debtors’ gaol, whichever comes first, I pass the time preparing my tax return for the end-September paper deadline. This is not efficiency on my behalf. I am just incapable of logging on to the HMRC website.
I also hope that my unsophisticated approach will convince them that I’m an unsophisticated taxpayer whose surprisingly low reported earnings are a logical result of that unsophistication.
Toil and trouble
Whichever officer examines my return must marvel that someone could toil for so long in this industry and earn so little, and that’s acknowledging I must be the only punter in Britain who inflates his earnings to make himself feel better when I send it in. The officer must assume that I have some kind of tax shelter in Panama where I stash my cash. If only they knew my tax avoidance scheme amounts to nothing more than simply not earning very many wages in the first place and there’s nothing optional about it. There’s nothing creative about my accounting.
Things are going to be different next year. I’ve got the ultimate Hail Mary trade. I wasn’t interested in trading cryptocurrencies and Bitcoin until Jamie Dimon said this week one had to be stupid to trade them and he would fire anyone who did. This got me interested.
What people overlook about a pyramid scheme is that everyone makes money, to start with at least. That’s better than the rest of my PA investing, where I start off losing money, then I lose more and I end up losing it all. While Bernie Madoff may spend his senescent years of incontinence and frailty in a prison not much different to a home for the elderly, he spent his prime bestride the world like a colossus.
It’s better to live one day as a lion than one hundred years as a sheep. Baaa.