Saturday, 30 June 2012
Spoken with a mouthful of teeth (part one)...
In the normal course of business, Scrobs regularly meets people who are involved in property deals, large and small. It is his business. One particularly pleasant encounter occurs when a good friend, Quentin ffoxley-Cabbage appears in the doorway of 'The Bells', and the anticipation of several pints of ale in good company becomes a reality.
On one particular occasion recently though, 'Q' entered the bar of 'The Bells', looking very thoughtful as he bought a pint, and, taking my arm, he led me over to a small window seat, away from the others.
"Scrobs", he started, hesitating for a moment, and taking a contemplative sip of beer, "Scrobs, I have a problem"!
Now normally, this is a rarity with 'Q', who dispenses largesse to all and sundry, and also with a big grin and a chuckle.
"Now this isn't really like you to have a problem, 'Q'", I said, "but spill the beans anyway. Tell me all and don't spare the horses"!
"Yup - I can tell you as an old mate, but it's strictly between you and me for the moment; OK"?
"Fine by me", I said, wondering what was going to come next.
"You know I'm involved with this big retail development in the town don't you", he said, looking at me intently.
"Everyone knows that 'Q', it's the biggest deal in the area, its been the talk of the establishment for ages! Supermarkets in sensitive town centres usually are, but what of it"?
"Er - my partner in the scheme, you know Charlie, well, - er - he has a Swedish lady business partner, that's the problem"! He said with a flourish, looking decidedly uncomfortable!
Now 'Q' doesn't dally with the opposite sex, well not nowadays. He has been married to his ever-loving wife for nigh on 20 years, and has four gorgeous children, and a lifestyle you might dream about if you shut your eyes extra tight, so this was indeed a bit of a bombshell!
"Ooops", was all I could slowly say.
"Oh, its nothing like that at all Scrobs", he said hastily, looking alarmed, and I grinned, and asked him what the problem with this Swedish lady really was all about.
"Well, it's a long story, so more beer first", he said, and got up and ordered two more pints, which arrived back in front of us with two packets of crisps.
"The scheme got planning last night, and we're going ahead, as from today". He said.
"Marvellous! That's indeed great news 'Q', and well deserved, especially as you've had a real battle with the council on your hands, but surely you should be celebrating"?
"Oh, the council were as stupid and as obstructive as ever, but they're not the problem any more; it's the banks which are the problem"!
"Oh, that sort of problem"! I said, swirling beer around my glass. "Business as usual is it then"?
"Actually, its not"! said 'Q'. "The real problem is that because Charlie's other director has seen him being given such a rough time by his bank, who have frustrated them at every turn, she has demanded that the scheme has to change its banking arrangements, and that they move the assets to her own personal bank, which is definitely not from these climes! She does indeed have a serious say in what goes on - she is the FD after all"!
"Hmm, so she's making you wonder what's happening next then", I said.
"Yup, that's the bit I'm worrying about, and there's more too"! He said, looking slightly daunted.
"She has also demanded that anyone who has any connection whatsoever with this particular UK bank, which has a nasty reputation for shredding, rigging deals and failing computer systems, will have absolutely no involvement with the scheme whatsoever! She's a formidable lady is our Swedish partner"!
"Hellfire, that's a new one"! I said, looking up at the ceiling in despair, "So what's her plan? Has she stopped the job"?
"Oh no, it's going ahead like a train, but definitely without our old bank's involvement! We've just drafted a letter telling them that they're effectively off the case in the deal"!
"Blimey, they'll lose out on a shed-load of money because of that, won't they"? I said, eyes widening.
"Oh yes, several hundred thousand, nearer a million, but it's worse than that", he said, "the affiliation of anyone with this particular bank in any shape or form has to be scrutinised by the lady! If anyone who supplies, draws, counts, designs, even the tiniest bit of the building work, is found to have an account with this particular UK bank, they're off the job! Even I'm changing my bank immediately as well, in fact we're all going to move, lock stock and barrel"!
"Blimey 'Q', that means they lose all your other stuff as well doesn't it? Come on old son, you've got millions with them, they'll lose the lot!
He nodded slowly, looking at me intently.
"So let me get this straight then", I started slowly, "Your business partner has now made a decision which will cost your own bank about - say - five million quid on the deal, and as well as that, they'll also lose about another 'Ooooh', fifty or so million, probably more, when all their business customers go as well!"
"Got it in one, Scrobs"! Said 'Q', brightening up for a second, then lapsing back into gloom again.
I thought hard about the consequences of this action.
"Oh Gawd, you're going to tell me that Elias banks with this particular bunch, aren't you..."! I said slowly.
"Yup..."! He said looking sadly down at his beer...
(to be continued while this sorry state of affairs compounded by our disgraceful banks unravels...)