Ellen is a celebrity icon. Her talk show is an American cultural phenomenon. Her single utterance can provoke otherwise right thinking people into fits of deranged dad-dancing on national television. She set pulses racing five years ago, when a photo of her standing next to other human beings at an awards ceremony was deemed by many to be a crucial moment for mankind.
She is a prophet, a philosopher queen, Socrates on a comfy chair. But she doesn’t usually pop up in the world of high finance. However, that changed this week, when Taipan made a phone call to a senior loans banker in Malaysia.
The bank in question had jettisoned the boring muzak that usually adds to my impatience when I'm put on hold, and replaced it with what appeared to be a long celebrity news segment. Ellen, it turns out, is winning an award, being recognised for her undoubted contribution to human progress by the Golden Globes.
Good for her, I thought. After all, this was the woman who introduced the world to Jeremy Piven, the pint-sized thesp who later inspired a generation of sociopaths with his portrayal of Ari Gold. But I did wonder whether celebrity news is really the best way to warm someone up for a call with a loans banker.
Maybe it’s simply a matter of perspective. Can a revolver be more interesting than an interview with Guy Ritchie, director of Revolver? Can levfin compete with Lev Grossman? Can a reverse flex really match up to Funkmaster Flex, who has funk in his very name?
I can confidently answer all of these questions in the negative. I endured holding for the call, as one does. But my mind was elsewhere. I wondered to myself, what is dear Ellen doing right now? I felt quite sure she was not talking about a corporate loan.