West London Man (26): THE ADVENTURE OF THE FINAL PROBLEM

When last we saw George, he had been detained by American authorities at La Guardia Airport, initially for a rather poor diamond-smuggling effort. Subsequently he was implicated in the various crimes committed by disgraced financier Bernard Madoff…..

Listen to the audio version (14mins 43s)

Download the script

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes

***

Episodes 1-25 may be found here


(West London Man 26 was written and produced by US lawyer and blogger  Colin Samuels and Charon QC.  Colin Samuels took the parts of Hank ‘Perry’ Mason and Madoff.  Charon took the part of The Narrator and George.)

I am not at liberty to explain if George survived his encounter with Bernard Madoff at The Reichenbach Falls… you will have to listen right to the end of the audio version to find out…

***

My thanks to Cellmark for encouraging  George’s return….

West London Man returns… after a trip to The Reichenbach Falls

Episode 26 is being recorded this Sunday…and George will return…after a period of time following his escape at La Guardia airport, USA….

 

(You may find the audio versions are a bit surreal…. )

West London Man (25) : The La Guardia Archipelago
Text Version
| Audio Version

West London Man (24) : Diamonds are not forever
Text Version | Audio Version

West London Man (23) : Half baked Alaska?
Text Version | Audio Version

West London Man (22) : It is crunch time
Text Version | Audio Version 

West London Man (21) : Upwardly beautiful and officialdom
Text Version | Audio Version

West London Man (20) : A trip to Sainsbury’s
Text Version
| Audio Version

West London Man (19) : A short holiday in Padstow, Cornwall
Text Version | Audio Version 

West London Man (18) : Der Peitsche
Text Version | Audio Version

West London Man (17) : Jolly Snorting Weather….
Text Version | Audio Version

West London Man (16): “I busted a mirror and got seven years bad luck, but my lawyer thinks he can get me five.
Text Version | Audio Version

West London Man (15): 15 – love to George…
Text Version | Audio Version

West London Man (14): Royal Ascot – First Day
Text Version | Audio Version

West London Man (13): Friday 13th…
Text Version | Audio Version

West London Man (12): Panic buying
Text Version

West London Man (11): Biscuits
Text Version | Audio Version

West London Man (10): Caroline talks to a friend….
Text Version

West London Man (9): Short suits and other matters…
Text Version | Audio Version

West London Man (8): Legal advice…
Text Version
| Audio Version

West London Man (7): Pre-dinner….
Text Version | Audio Version

West London Man (6): At home…
Text Version

West London Man (5): To Lords for a spot of cricket…
Text Version | Audio Version

West London Man (4): A bit of gazundering…
Text Version

West London Man (3): Talks Stagflation….
Text Version | Audio Version

West London Man (2): A trip to Lords is coming up…
Text Version | Audio Version

West London Man (1): With the first hot weekend of summer…
Text Version | Audio Version

***

My thanks to Cellmark for encouraging  George’s return….

West London Man 25: The La Guardia Archipelago

West London Man 25: The La Guardia Archipelago

Following his arrest at La Guardia Airport  in New York City (Episode 24), George has been relieved  of the diamonds and jewellery he received from financier Bernard Madoff and is now a guest of the American authorities in a nearby detention center. As an Englishman with refined cultural and culinary sensibilities, George considers these austere surroundings akin to an outer circle of Dante’s Inferno or perhaps to Scotland. His defense counsel, the well-known New York lawyer Scott Greenfield, shepherds him through the American legal system while his wife, Caroline, secures matters on the home front.  Although storm clouds continue to gather, George has resolved that he will not be broken by his present circumstances. Allowed writing materials by his captors, he has begun to compose an epic memoir….

To find out what happened you’ll have to listen to the podcast or download the script. The podcast has great music and sound effects as well as some pretty ‘classy’ acting!

Listen to the podcast (14 mins 21 secs)

Download the script in pdf format

Notes:
West London Man 25 was written by Colin Samuels, Scott Greenfield and Charon.  Colin Samuels and Diane Jankiewicz played the parts of the La Guardia Detention Centre guards.  Lawyer Greenfield was played by Scott Greenfield, a well known criminal defense lawyer in New York and author of the Simple Justice blog

Other episodes of West London Man

West London Man 24: Diamonds are not forever….

WEST LONDON MAN 24: DIAMONDS ARE NOT FOREVER.

Listen to the podcast audio version.. complete with music and sound effects…

Finally rid of their unwanted house guests, failed American vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin and her family, George and Caroline decamped West London for a three-week break over Christmas, skiing in Verbier, France.  Now home, the children are staying with Caroline’s parents before returning to their Montessori school next week.  George has poured himself the better half of a bottle of Burgundy and is settling down to catch up with his reading in the financial press.  Caroline walks into the drawing room with a package.

***

Caroline: George… we’ve got a package from the United States… how exciting….

George: Oh, hell.  It’s not from the Palins, is it?  They stay for bloody ever and now they send us a dead animal or something as a [affecting exaggerated American accent]”big thank Y’ALL!”

Caroline: I don’t think so… it’s from New York.  Do you know anyone in New York who could have sent you a package?

George: I know a lot of people in New York, darling… but none of them would send me a Christmas present… they are bankers.  They don’t do Christmas; they’re not big on celebrating the birthday of someone who overturned money-lenders’ tables in the temple.

Caroline: Well… it’s a sizable one….  The au pair signed for it and left it on the kitchen table.

George: Really?  Well, open it and see what it is.

Caroline: Oh my god….. George… there are diamonds… big ones… LOTS of them….  There is also a watch… a very swish watch… expensive… a solid gold Rolex with diamonds encrusted around the dial. And there are several pairs of mittens.  What the hell is that about?
George: Caroline… I’m a bit busy, darling… don’t wind me up….  It was a dead animal from the Palins, wasn’t it?

Caroline: I am being serious… here… look for yourself… there’s a note… to you!

Caroline walks over to George and empties the package onto the coffee table.  George stares in disbelief….

George: Christ on a bicycle…. Bloody hell….  Oh, my fucking god!

Caroline: What is it?

George: This note… these are diamonds from Bernard Madoff… the guy who has just been arrested for a $50 Billion Ponzi pyramid fraud… the biggest fraud the world has ever known.  These are diamonds he doesn’t want the US authorities to know about… he sent some to his family as well and they shopped him.

Caroline: Why would he send these to you?  How do you know this man, George?

George: He’s just a casual acquaintance… a dinner or two… and… perhaps a couple of years back, I… might have sent him a few millions of the firm’s petty cash….

Caroline: Well, it’s not as though your firm was the only one which lost money with him.

George: Um… strictly speaking… not everyone at the firm approved of the investment….  It was a bit hushed.

Caroline: How hushed?

George: Unapproved… strictly speaking….

Caroline: Good lord!  You’re mixed-up in this?  George, you cannot become involved… just tell the US authorities and return these things right now.

George: Are you crazy?!  In the present climate knowing Madoff is not a brilliant idea…. The money’s gone… all gone… poof….  I’m going to have to get advice on this. I have to get these diamonds back to New York without anyone… and I mean anyone… knowing.  This is serious.

Caroline leaves; George reads Madoff’s note: “George, I’ve got a bit of a problem, as you may have heard.  Before the wolves reach my door, I thought I’d send you these cherished items for safekeeping.  Your assistance now is, as always, much appreciated.  I’ve always known we’re kindred spirits.  Yours, Bernie” Oh, fuck.

***

George makes a couple of panicked phone calls and books a flight to New York for the next afternoon.

The next morning, he assures Caroline that he will set things to rights before they get more out-of-hand; he tells her that he is flying to New York to see a lawyer and that he has sent the diamonds to the lawyer by courier.  In fact, George still has the diamonds, concealed in a briefcase.  He makes his way to Heathrow and arrives several hours later at La Guardia Airport in New York.

***

La Guardia Airport
US Customs and Immigration

Immigration Officer: What is the purpose of your visit, sir?

George: Purely social.  I’m meeting up with a friend… a personal friend… on personal business… I mean just… casual… informal… you know.

Immigration Officer: Uh huh. I see that you are a regular visitor.  How long will you be here this visit?

George: Oh, just for a day… then I’m flying back to London.

Immigration Officer: Just one day?  You flew all this way to see your friend and you’re just staying one day?

George: Yes!  I’m just going to see my friend.  I… um… missed him… my friend… uh, terribly.  Dear friend.  Like a brother.

Immigration Officer: …OK, OK.  I don’t need your life story.  Enjoy your stay, sir.

Flustered, George makes his way to a nearby washroom and changes into a long black coat and black hat and puts a false beard on.  He calms somewhat when he sees the results; he thinks his Hasidic diamond merchant disguise is quite convincing.

George regards his reflection in the washroom mirror: Hello, Rabbi!

***

Customs Officer: Anything to declare?

George: Absolutely nothing, nothing at all.  I’m a diamond merchant.

Customs Officer: You’re a diamond merchant and you have nothing at all to declare?

George: Wait! I’m a diamond dealer… I have this ONE diamond to declare!  For which I am fully prepared to pay all the appropriate fees, of course.

Customs Officer: Of course.

George: I deal in diamonds.  And I’m Hasidic!  A Hasidic diamond dealer!

Customs Officer: I see that, sir.  Got any other diamonds with you?

George: Other diamonds? Oy vey!  Ha, no, no other diamonds… none at all….  This place is crawling with thieves… I’m not… um… messhugah…. I just have the one diamond.  I’m here to buy some other diamonds, though….  Just a mensch with chutzpah looking to buy some diamonds… officer… um [looking at name tag]… “Goldstein.”  Splendid.

At this point George turns suddenly; the false beard catches on his coat button and falls off onto the floor.

Customs Officer: How about you collect your beard and come with us?  Let’s *kibbitz* about whatever’s in that case of yours.

George is taken to a small room by two armed officers; they quickly discover the remainder of the diamonds and the gold Rolex watch.  Some hours later, he is allowed a phone call and dials Hank “Perry” Mason, an old friend who’s now a lawyer practicing in California.

***

George calls Hank Mason… ring ring… ring ring….

George: Pick up, pick up….

Hank Mason: Hank Mason, good morning.

George: Perry… thank God you are in.  I’ve got a problem.  I’m at La Guardia… I’ve been arrested.

Hank Mason: You’ve been arrested?!  Why have you been arrested, George?

George: They claim that I was smuggling diamonds….

Hank Mason: Smuggling diamonds?  Obviously a mistake… Jeez, George, I thought you’d really done something…. Just tell me what happened and we’ll go from there.

George: My false beard fell off….

Hank Mason: What?!  Your false beard fell off?  What the fuck were you doing wearing a false beard?

George: I wanted to look like one of those Hasidic diamond merchants… black hat, long coat… look like a diamond dealer… told them I was buying diamonds in New York…. I thought that would be a good story… good business for America in these troubled economic times….  I can tell you… your Customs guy was not amused when the effing beard fell off and he found all the diamonds and the gold Rolex watch.

Hank Mason: Oh, fuck.

George: They’re not mine, Perry!  They belong to Bernard Madoff, you know, the….

Hank Mason: LA, LA, LA, LA!  Shut the fuck up, George!  Not another word!  You need a lawyer… another lawyer… one who knows a bit about criminal defense and isn’t in California….

George: I couldn’t agree more… I can almost hear these guys getting the waterboard ready…. I’m in hedge funds, Perry, I short-sell bank stocks, gas, electricity… I’m not a bloody criminal….

Hank Mason: Christ!  My firm doesn’t have anyone who does this kind of thing, much less over there.  I’m going to have to make some calls, George….

George: If it helps, I was able to Google a few names….  There’s a fellow here in New York who’s not only a top criminal defense counsel… he also has a blog and according to something called… uh, “Twitter,” he also happens to be a member of the English peerage… an Earl of some sort.  That might help.  His name is Scott Greenfield.  Can you call him?  I don’t know whether I’ll get another phone call from these customs gentlemen….

Hank Mason: OK… relax… I’ll call him right now.  Do you need me to call Caroline?

George: Caroline?  Oh, Caroline!  Yes, would you?  Let her know that I’m… um, detained… and I may be a bit longer here in the States.

Hank Mason: A bit longer, yeah.  Listen, George, stay where you are… I’m calling Greenfield now.

George: Fine… I’m not exactly going anywhere…. I’ve got manacles around my ankles and my left wrist is chained to another chain around my waist.  They even took my beard, Perry….

***

Hank calls Greenfield’s office… ring ring… ring ring….

Hank Mason: …yes, thank you, thanks…. [pause]… Mr. Greenfield!  Thanks for taking my call… my name is Hank Mason… I’m an attorney out here in California and I have a friend who’s been arrested… he’s from Britain and he’s in the clink at La Guardia…. [pause]… Well, he was… smuggling diamonds and dressed as a Hasidic… yeah…. Yeah, and it gets better… they were sent to him by Bernard Madoff. [pause]… Why you?  Well, you come highly recommended and… look, I think he just found your blog Googling on his cell phone… for some reason, he thinks you’re a British lord.  Please, just go see him and do what you can….  The consulate?  I dunno if they’ve been notified… OK.  And in the meantime, I’ll arrange for your fees…. Thank you!  Thanks so much.  I know this is a little weird… OK, more than a little… I really appreciate it… George is a good guy….  I think he’s just having a really bad day….  What’s that?  Well, I need to call George’s wife right now, but then I’d be happy to call this ‘O’Keefe’ fellow and tell him that we hired you because of your blog….

***

Listen to the podcast audio version.. complete with music and sound effects…

The part of Caroline was played by Jo le Huquet.  George was played by Charon and Colin Samuels took the parts of the US Immigration officer, the Customs Officer and Hank “Perry” Mason.

The script was co-written by Colin Samuels of the Infamy or Praise blog and Charon.

***

Podcast: West London Man 24: Diamonds are not forever






West London Man (23): Half baked Alaska?

Audio Podcast Version: West London Man (23): Half Baked Alaska?

The part of Caroline was played by Jo le Huquet, Hank by Colin Samuels of Infamy or Praise and Charon took the part of George.

Inspired by an email from Colin who suggested and wrote the plotline.

***

George has participated in or been just one step removed from numerous social atrocities, but he has always maintained a solid, if somewhat decadent, reputation amongst his friends, colleagues, and social acquaintances.  Soon, however, his darkest secret may be revealed.  Unknown to those friends, colleagues, and society acquaintances, George has distant American relations whom he refuses to acknowledge, much less to discuss.  His heretofore successful efforts to deny his colonial connections are jeopardized when he receives a call that one of these cousins has found herself with time on her hands and will be visiting soon.

George is stunned to hear from an assistant to Sarah Palin, who advises our hero that cousin Sarah will soon be visiting Europe (“to clear her head after a recent setback and to establish strong foreign policy credentials for a future endeavor”) and would like to drop in on him since she knows London is a country in Europe.
***

George is at home with his wife Caroline. George is stressed and has just poured himself a very large Vodka.

LONDON

George: Caroline…  You know I mentioned that I had a distant cousin in the United States?

Caroline: Yes…. you did say something about that  years ago…

George: Er…. I don’t quite know how to bring this up…. but the cousin wants to make a visit.

Caroline: Fantastic, George… wonderful… when?  How exciting.

George: Er…. I think I can find a better word than exciting… in fact I can find two words… fucking disastrous…

Caroline: George!  Language please, pas devant les enfants… what’s the problem?

George: My distant cousin is Sarah Palin… you know… the fruitcake who shoots mooses and runs Alaska, the would be President who can see Russia from her window…

Caroline: Your cousin is Sarah Palin?…. that’s marvellous…. how amusing….. I thought you would be pleased?

George: Well… Caroline….. look at it this way…I deal with US bankers every day… well… those that haven’t jumped off a building or been sacked post Lehman…  and if they find out that I am related to Sarah Palin… however distantly… I’ll be a laughing stock on Wall Street and in the City.

Caroline: I thought you were already a laughing stocking in the City, darling….. I think she’s hilarious….

George: Hilarious is not a word I would have used…. she hasn’t got a clue about politics, economics, banking, the global financial situation and her knowledge of foreign policy and geography is laughable.

Caroline: I don’t really think you and your banking mates can afford to be all high and mighty at the moment.  Your collective greed has wrecked the world…. and I do hope you have stopped short selling banking shares because it is illegal now…

George: Yeah yeah…. out of banking shares….  dumped the lot weeks ago… doing oil and energy stocks now… far more amusing. Look…. I’m going to have make a call to Perry Mason in California…. an attorney I know.

Caroline: Perry Mason is a fictional character, darling.  How much have you had to drink?  It’s only 6.15 and Mother is coming over later.  I don’t want a repeat of three weeks ago when you were roaring and told her that  she should wear shorter skirts, wear brighter lipstick and that you were going to buy her a bright yellow feather boa for Christmas.

George: The guy’s name is Hank P Mason…. we all call him Perry…. even his wife calls him Perry.  I’ll make the call in my study….. shouldn’t be long.

George goes downstairs to the lower ground floor and into his high tech equipped study.  He makes a call to Hank P Mason, Attorney at Law.

Ring… ring… ring….ring

***

PHONECALL LONDON TO CALIFORNIA,  USA

Hank: Hank Mason, Good morning…..

George: Hey… Perry It’s George….. thanks for taking the call… just getting up or have you pulled an allnighter?…. need some advice – a very delicate matter.

Hank: Allright… shoot.

George: Is there any chance you could apply to have Sarah Palin interned at Guantanamo?

Hank: Hmm, it would’ve been easier to intern her in DC, but we missed our chance a couple of weeks ago.  You might’ve heard?  What’s up, George…. do you want advice I can bill you for or are you just juiced up and looking to chat?

George:I couldn’t be more serious… and yes… you can bill on this one…. hit that clock Perry….  I need to stop Sarah Palin getting to London?

Hank: Ontario?

George: London… London…. you know the big City, Southern England near France…. world financial centre London… Big effing Ben London… that one… Christ…. what’s happened to your geography?…  you’ve been here many times… get to New York and straight on… that London.

Hank: (laughing):  OK…. but why…. I didn’t even know she knew where London England was….. is she allowed to leave North America?  How do you know she’s going to London?  Did she call you up?

George: Well yes… Perry… as a matter of fact she did call and tell me… or rather her assistant did.  She’s a distant cousin.. and wants to come to London and see me while she is over here.  She even wants to stay!”

Hank:(laughing):  A distant cousin…. fantastic….. hey… wait till I tell the guys that George is related to the pitbull in lipstick….

George: Perry.. that’s why I am calling… I don’t want anyone to know…. so Omerta…. you saw what happened to George Osborne when he couldn’t keep his mouth shut about Mandelson and Oleg the Oligarch….. I doubt Osborne will even be toasting crumpets in the Whips office soon… even The Telegraph are calling for Cameron to roast him over the fire a la Tom Brown’s Schooldays and then sack him…  I need to keep Palin in Alaska….  so can you get her extraordinarily rendited to Guantanamo or not?

Hank: ‘Fraid not, George.  Obamassiah is getting ready to close Gitmo.  Besides, it was only ever for terrorists and Iraqis without government connections.  If you want to keep her on ice, just sign her to write her memoirs.  Hell, just sounding out the big words might keep her out of your hair for years….. can’t your people do anything… Do you know anyone at the Home Office?  Immigration… your end?

George: The Home Office? Immigration?….look… if Bin Laden flew into Heathrow sitting astride a nuclear rocket like Dr Strangelove we’d probably let him in… The Home Office is hopeless….even if they identified him they’d probably leave him on the train en route to the detention centre. We’ve got hundreds of illegals in this country.  Do you know what the Police do if they find an illegal jumping out of the back of a lorry on the motorway?  They give them a cup of tea, a letter from the Home Office and a map and tell them to make their own way to the nearest Immigration Office… farcical.

Hank: Sorry….. nothing I can do.  Unless you can convince her that you’ve all got Mad Cow again, I’d say Uncle George is getting some quality time with little Trig…

George: OK… OK… I gather she has been offered $2 million to appear in a porn movie? and I read today that she’s going to guest in Desperate Housewives….

Hank: Really?  I heard she’s going to be the Eleventh Doctor.  Pip, pip, and cheerio, old chap.

***

Audio Podcast Version: West London Man (23): Half Baked Alaska?

West London Man (22): It is crunch time….

Podcast version: West London Man (22): It is crunch time…

George and Caroline had what may be their last foreign holiday in Tuscany for some time during the latter part of August until mid-September and George returned to the gathering financial storm. George is flicking through the financial press and chatting idly to a mate of his after a long day at work.

Dave: What do mean you are going to phone the Archbishop of York and see if he can lend you some mining shares to short sell?  How much have you been drinking

George: I’ve only had half a bottle, Dave….The Archbishop of York has accused us all of being bank robbers and asset strippers for short selling …. but the real laugh is that the Church  Commissioners, who manage the Church of England’s investments, set up a currency hedging programme, in effect short-selling sterling to guard against rises in other currencies…. and according to mumbo jumbo think tank Ekklesia the C of E has shares in mining and oil companies.

Dave: But isn’t that what we do all the time… weren’t you selling Lloyds TSB shares only the other day?

George: Ah…. yes…..  but can’t do that anymore…. verboten… hanging offence.  Government has banned it because they don’t want to have to buy up every bank in Britain just yet… may have to keep their powder dry for that if the bozos in the Republican party don’t get their act together and vote for the bail out.

Dave: Shame about Peter… I was talking to him earlier… he’s not taking his sacking very well.

George: Peter couldn’t cut it at a major league bank, went secondary… now the secondary banks can get prime beef from Lehman at a good price… cheaper to fire the veggie bankers and bring in the carnivores.  That’s the way it is.

Dave: Well…. it just goes to show that greed doesn’t always work….. bet you are glad you didn’t go into investment banking…. you could have been in the same boat.

George laughed: Yep…. too greedy I was told at the interview… too much of a risk…. ironic.

George flicked open his laptop and started looking at some blogs.

George… laughing: Excellent… some guy called The Fat Bigot has been writing about short selling…. “As for those who engage in short selling being “bank robbers and asset strippers”, that comment merely shows the Archbishop of York to be ludicrously naive. Like so many men who spend their working lives in fancy frocks, he is best kept well away from the real world.”  I couldn’t agree more.

George spent another five minutes or so picking up on blogs he enjoyed reading and then picked up his mobile phone to call his City lawyer friend Hugo..  Ring…. ring…. ring… ring….

Hugo: Hello

George: Hi Hugo…. George here… still got a job?  The word on the street is that law firms are carrying out mass sackings all over the place…. streets are full of lawyers selling matches and shoelaces….

Hugo: Very funny, George… No… I haven’t been sacked.  I’m not a property lawyer.  As it happens we are rolling in it after being called in to sort out the mess you financial boys have made of the known universe.

George: Fancy coming down for a beer?

Hugo: George… it is 7.00.  I am unlikely to finish here until well after 11.00.  We are working closely with the government.  I do not think that they would take kindly to having to go through legal structures with me while I am sitting in the Dog & Duck with you.

George: So… that’ll be a ‘No’ then?

Hugo: Yes… it is a No.  Bye.

George goes back to looking at blogs….

George: Fuck…. Dave… have you see what City Unslicker has written on his blog now?

Dave: No

George: He says that US plan to buy toxics is wrong … I quote: ” But what is needed is for banks to have enough capital to be able to write-down the bad loans now and not go insolvent. To that end, a better plan is to re-capitalise banks and the Government to take a charge on the money, maybe even in the form of shares.”… JESUS… he’s saying that shares could soar and the government could even make a profit….. We’d better get our skates on…. what do you fancy shorting tomorrow….. oil again?

Dave: Yeah… oil is good…. let’s do oil.

***

Podcast version: West London Man (22): It is crunch time…

West London Man (21): Upwardly beautiful and officialdom

West London Man (21): Upwardly beautiful and officialdom – Audio Version

The part of Caroline is played by Jo le Huquet and Charon played the parts of George and Cokehead, the parrot.

Run Time: 4.45 mins

***

George bought a parrot on Monday afternoon from his friend Rick, a musician who played in a band in the 80s.  He thought it would be an amusing pet to have about the house. The children are in bed and  George and Caroline are having a glass of wine together.

Caroline:  So… you have bought a parrot?

George: Yes… do you like it?

Caroline:  What is the parrot’s name?

George: Cokehead.

Caroline: Cokehead!…. right…… Any particular reason for that name?

George: Yes…. he talks absolute nonsense… very quickly.

Caroline: Right…. well that makes sense given the life it has led.  I gather it spends most of the time outside.

George: Yes… a free spirit is Cokehead.  He’ll drop in from time to time.  Just need to leave out some seeds and other parrot food.  He quite likes “What’s my Line” on Radio 4.

Cokehead: When do we go line dancing, George?

Caroline.. laughing:  All we need, a bloody parrot who wants to go line dancing.

George: Did you read that league table in The Evening Standard that tells you where the beautiful people live?

Cokehead: Is that a double white line I see?

Caroline: Yes… vapid, absurd and even more irritatingly Evening Standard than usual.

George: Yes…. but you wouldn’t want to live in Ugly Borough would you?  Apparently the least rated women live in Hillingdon Havering and Waltham Forest… do you know where Waltham Forest is?

Caroline: George… No I don’t know where Waltham Forest is…. this is boring.  I’m not interested in the self obsessed and terminally vain, even if they appeal to your warped sense of humour.

Cokehead: Warp factor five, Mr Zulu… We’re off…. whooosssshhhh…

George: Did you see that some judge….  Judge Cottle…. is going to bang up binge drinkers…. zero tolerance… lock ’em up even if it is a first offence?  Another cleverly thought out bit of judicial busybodying…. prisons are already full to bursting, so this judge is going to clear Exeter of binge drinkers by banging them up.

Caroline:  I think you will find that he did qualify his remarks by saying that he would imprison binge drinkers if they committed serious crimes of violence.

George: Oh right…  so not just for binge drinking then?

Caroline:  No, George

Cokehead: Double vodka Rick, please.

George is flicking through various newspapers and is becoming progressively more impatient.

George: This is ridiculous.  £110 fine for over-filling a bin while some thieving scumbag only gets an £80 fine for nicking stuff from shops… and…. Christ…. what about this?….  guy takes a photograph of a police car parked in a bus bay…. and the police question him under the Terrorism legislation….. … and here’s another one…. security guard at a shopping mall prevents people from taking photographs in the shopping mall because of terrorism threat…. this is just fucking ridiculous.

Cokehead: Chop chop…. chop chop…. don’t use the Oyster card!

George: God…. the bloody olympics start on Friday…. They’re all going to be drug tested.  Some Italian fencer has already been found out.  Apparently the next thing is injecting DNA into the body…. not detectable.  Frankly… I’d find it far more interesting if they allowed athletes to use any drug they choose…. I’d love to see someone high jump forty feet into the air.

Caroline:   Did you know that Amnesty International estimates that 374 people will be executed during the Olympics?

George: No!… who?….  journalists?

Caroline rolled her eyes heavenwards, sighs and picks up her glass of wine.

Caroline:   No, George… not journalists…. chinese nationals who have committed crimes.  71 offences in China carry the death penalty according to Amnesty.

Cokehead: Here comes the Candyman…. Good evening, Mr Candyman.

Caroline… laughing: George… I love the parrot…. but we just can’t have a parrot talking about line dancing and candy men and ordering double vodkas…. I’m sorry, darling … but it will have to go.

***

West London Man (21): Upwardly beautiful and officialdom – Audio Version

***

Other West London Man episodes may be found: here

West London Man (20): A trip to Sainsbury’s

West London Man (20): A trip to Sainsbury’s Audio version

Run Time: 5.27 mins
Produced: West London

The Part of George was played by Charon.  The parts of the sales assistant, the elderly lady and Bronwyn were played by a voice text to speech synthesiser by Cepstral

Listen to West London Man (2): A trip to Sainsbury’s Audio version

Saturday afternoons bored George. It was not so much the gap in the day between lunch and an evening of hedonistic pleasure, but the general administration of life – the trip to Sainsbury’s, the trip to the dry cleaner, the trip to the bloody delicatessens in Turnham Green Terrace. George decided to do the Sainsbury’s run himself this afternoon while Caroline took the children for a walk at Chiswick House.

Parking his BMW 4×4 in the Sainsbury’s car park, George walked into the supermarket and headed straight for the cigarette counter.

Assistant: Good afternoon, how are you?

George:  As well as can be expected, given that I am having my wooden leg changed later this afternoon, thank you.  You OK?

Assistant: I’m fine, thank you.

George: Well, that’s good.  Can I have a pack of Marlboro fully leaded please?

Assistant: I’m sorry, I don’t think we sell fully leaded ones.  What are they?

George: Sorry… The red Marlboro, please.

George paid for the pack of cigarettes and looked at the label.

George: Sorry about this, but the label on the pack says that these cigarettes will make me impotent. Would you mind changing this pack for some cigarettes that will give me fatal lung cancer instead, please.

Assistant: That’s not very nice.

George: I’m sorry… you’re quite right…  it is a joke in excellently bad taste.  Read it in The Guardian Weekend section this morning… an amusing article by Julian Barnes.

Assistant: Oh.  I don’t read the Guardian.  I read The Sun.

George: Excellent…  plenty of jokes in that.  The Guardian doesn’t usually do jokes, it has to be said… in fact, The Guardian is altogether too serious for any day, let alone a Saturday.  .

The assistant looked baffled and an elegant middle aged lady, standing in the adjacent queue, pursed her lips and gave George a disapproving look. George wandered off to collect a trolley and headed down the meats aisle.  An elderly couple were moving at a snail’s pace, weaving uncannily into George’s path as he approched them at speed.

George muttered to himself: God in heaven, how do these old people manage to have eyes in the backs of their heads.  They have all week to go shopping …. why do they have to do it on a bloody Saturday?

George found a gap and went for it, sailing past the old couple and down the aisle to the roast lamb arrea where he picked up a large leg of lamb. It took George approximately ten minutes to fill the trolley with shopping.

George saw a check-out with only one customer.  He also saw the same old couple he had barged past heading for the same counter.  The race was on.  George broke into a trot and just reached the check out before the old couple.George smiled at the elderly man and woman.

George: Sorry about that, but have to rush, getting my wooden leg changed today and have to leg it, pronto.

Elderly woman: You have a wooden leg?

George: The foot fell off the other day when I playing golf. Most unfortunate,  I was playing a difficult seven iron to the green and ended up slicing the ball into someone’s garden.

Elderly woman: Well I hope your new leg won’t cause you any problems.

George: Yes… no absolutely… can’t wander about worrying if my foot is going to fall off.

At that moment, George heard a familiar voice, the soft lilt of a very clever woman, a barrister by training.

Bronwyn: George… behave yourself…  You don’t have a wooden leg… that was a disgraceul performance, running with your trolley to queue jump these lovely people.  I insist that you let them go first.

George laughed: My apologies…. my learned friend is right…. I find shopping very boring – please go first…

Elderly lady: I didn’t think you did have a wooden leg.  You did manage to trot quite fast with that trolley though.

George turned to greet his friend, an attractive blonde in her mid-forties with bright blue eyes.  An amused smile played on her lips as George bent to kiss her cheek.

Bronwyn: I think you need to buy me a cup of coffee when we get out of here.  I want to know what you have been up to.    I heard that Caroline has gone back to work.

***

Listen to West London Man (2): A trip to Sainsbury’s Audio version

***
EPISODES 1 – 19 of West London Man – may be found here

West London Man (19) : A short holiday in Padstow, Cornwall

West London Man (19): A short holiday in Padstow, Cornwall

Produced:  In West London

Run Time:  5.37 minutes
Music:  I do love to be beside the seaside
Wardrobe: Boden (left)

The part of Caroline was played by Joanna Le Huquet.  Charon took the parts of George and David Cameron

Listen to the Audio version of West London Man (19)

George and Caroline usually take a summer vacation in Southern France or Tuscany. Conscious, this year, that they should be seen by fellow West Londoners to be doing the right thing, they too are going to have a ‘British’ holiday quickly and then go on their real holiday to Tuscany in early August.  The Boden catalogue arrived and George has purchased some rather fetching outfits for the Padstow trip.  The children, Peregrine and Jocasta are looking forward to playing at the seaside.  George has arranged for a local nanny to look after the children during the day for the short week’s holiday.

George, to irritate one of his Chiswick friends who has an Audi Quattro TT, bought himself an Aston Martin DB9 and he and Caroline went down to Cornwall in the Aston.  The children followed later in the family’s BMW 4 x 4 with Caroline’s Mother who would help look after the children during the week’s holiday.

It was the first day of the holiday.  George and Caroline went for a walk on the beach – George dressed casually in navy shorts and a dark gray polo shirt.  Caroline wore a long floral print skirt and a soft black sleeveless top.

Caroline: George?…. isn’t that David Cameron and his wife, Samantha, sitting on the beach over there?

George brought his Zeiss binoculars up to his eyes and scanned the horizon.  It was not necessary to use binoculars because the Camerons were only fifty or so yards away.

George: I think you’re right, darling… yes…. it is Dave and Samantha?

Caroline: Dave?… do you know Cameron?

George: Well…. not exactly…. I joined WebCameron some time ago and get emails from him regularly.

Caroline: But doesn’t everyone who joins WebCameron get an email from him regularly?

George: welll… yes… yes… I suppose they do.

Caroline: So… you don’t actually know Dave and Samantha then?

George: No…. not as such…. no.

Caroline started laughing and said: Have you noticed that ‘Dave’ and Samantha are wearing exactly the same clothes as we are wearing.

George brought his binoculars up t his eyes again and paused.

George: Bloody hell… you’re right…. how could that happen…?

Caroline: Well they can’t be using a catalogue….. maybe they went to the same shop in West London?

George: Yes… possibly.

Caroline: I wonder if he has brought his bicycle with him?  He got it back you know.

George and Caroline strolled along the beach.  George waved casually at the Cameron’s who were about to be photographed for the newspapers and waved.

George: Hi Dave!… having a good break?  You gave Brown a good fisting in the Commons last week…. keep it up…

Cameron: Thank you… enjoy your holiday too.

George: Absolutely Dave…  gather you got your bike back… some hoodie made off with it is the word on the street….  quite amusing really.

Cameron: It wasn’t amusing at the time. Well… if you will excuse me…. I’ve got to get these pics done.

George: Well Dave… keep it up… you’ll be in Number 10 before Christmas…. and that Vince Cable bloke who called Brown ‘Mr Bean’ will be an excellent Chancellor of The Exchequer.  Good man, Cable….. you made a good choice there.

Cameron smiling wearily:  Mr Cable is a Liberal-Democrat.

George: Absolutely… well… it takes all sorts….. have a great vacation… I’ll be voting for you.  Bye.

Caroline dragged George quickly by the arm, laughing.  The Cameron’s laughed and Caroline was absolutely certain she heard Samantha say “What a strange man…. do you know him?”

Caroline: Well that was a command performance, George…. brilliant in fact.  Instead of saying ‘beasting’, which is probably just acceptable parliamentary language, you used ‘fisting’ and you did not appear to Cameron to know much about politics because Vince Cable is not a Tory…. but who cares… that was funny… very funny in fact… now take me for lunch, then take me to bed and take me..  It has been a while…

***

Listen to the Audio version of West London Man (19)

West London Man (18): Der Peitsche…

Audio Version: WLM 18 – Der Peitsche
With sound effects and some good music

It was 8.30 on Saturday morning when George had a phonecall from a friend of his. Mr ‘X’, as he prefers to be known, had been telephoned by a journalist from a Sunday tabloid to ask if he, Mr ‘X’, thought it was in the public interest for his “credit-crunch” themed SM orgy, filmed secretly by “Ms ‘W’ on Thursday, should be published in the Sunday edition of the newspaper.  The journalist described the hidden camera footage the newspaper had.  Mr ‘X’, a respected director of a London estate agency, slammed the phone down on the journalist and, in a state of panic, called George.

Ring…Ring…Ring…Ring

George: Hi…what you up to?

Mr ‘X’: I’m about to be outed by a Sunday newspaper….

George: Excellent…..

Mr ‘X’: No… it’s not bloody excellent… I’ve been filmed at an orgy… S&M…

George: Even better… tell me more…

Mr ‘X’ took George through the story.  On Thursday afternoon, Mr ‘X’ had visited a professional dominatrix… Ms W.

Mr ‘X’ explained the ‘scenario’ to George.  Mr ‘X’ had arranged for the dominatrix, Ms W, to invite two of her friends in ‘the scene’ to attend.  The scenario was “Crime and Punishment”.  The film had shown Mr X being ordered to strip naked by three women dressed like bank managers. The video footage went on to show Ms W, an attractive blonde dressed in a navy blue skirt suit, complete with an identity badge on her jacket lapel with the logo of a bank and marketing strapline “We’ll whip your finances into shape”, shouting at Mr ‘X’ in a faux Birmingham accent.

Ms W shouted.. “I want you to read those files and tell me why you thought these clients of yours were suitable for mortgage applications to this bank.”  The film then cut to a naked Mr ‘X’  saying… “They are not suitable, Madam Bank Manager.  I erred, Madam Bank Manager.  They had no prospect whatsoever of paying off their mortgage. We were being greedy, Madam Bank Manager. I have sinned… punish me”.

The video was a bit fuzzy at this point, but, nevertheless, showed Ms W putting on a judicial wig and black dressing gown;  the latter as it transpires,  purchased by Mr ‘X’ from M&S for the occasion. Ms W provided the judicial wig from her ‘dressing up’ box; a gift from a grateful client of hers who had, in his day, served in a minor judicial capacity. There followed a short passage where Ms W sentenced Mr ‘X’ for his crimes against West London society.

A transcript of this footage reveals the following dialogue:

“You have been a very naughty estate agent and you are now going to pay for your crimes against this bank.  You will be taken from here and be strapped to a B&Q workbench and your bottom will be caned until it is very pink and you repent of your sins.”

Discretion requires that we draw a veil over this very private performance of Le Vice Anglais and English haut-culture…. save to say that Mr ‘X’ was caned by each of the three women dressed as high street bank managers.  While no Bank has complained, nor been informed,  about this footage…  nor has there been any FSA or Bank of England interest, Mr ‘X’ is worried that publication of the film may well prejudice his reputation as a ‘hard closer’ and prejudice his chain of estate agencies in an already depressed housing market. George telephones his City lawyer friend Hugo, who calls  a friend of his, a specialist in libel and privacy law, who in turn arranges for Mr ‘X’ to have an immediate consultation with Ralph Gomorrah QC, one of the most famous barristers in the country, whose earnings were not reported in The Times today…. (£1.175m, exluding VAT)

***

Gomorrah QC: Good.  Well… let me say at once that I see every prospect of success here.  As you know, there is a famous case going through the courts at this very moment… the case of Max Mosley.  We don’t know the result yet, but Mr Justice Eady is not known for his empathy with the press and has form when it comes to issues of privacy.  The problem we have is that there is no right to privacy in England & Wales.  Lest you wonder if you may have been better off carrying out these erotic entertainments of yours in Scotland, I am not able to comment on (a) what they get up to in Scotland, apart from deep frying Mars bars and other exotic foods,  and (b) they have a separate legal system.

Mr ‘X’: I wasn’t in Scotland.

Gomorrah QC: Good… just as well.  I would not have been able to act for you if you had been. Be that as it may… the essence of the case is this:  It is a balance between your rights as a private individual to enjoy your leisure time and engage in sexual acts without interference or unwarranted intrusion and the right of the public to know that those who are in the public eye, in positions of responsibility,  are not all off their heads and engaging in activities likely to harm the interests of, inter alia, (a) The fabric of the British nation, (b) to put god fearing members of the British public in fear of harm and corruption to themselves and (c) and this is the difficult one… activities of concern to HM Government likely to pervert… sorry… divert… the attention of the state from interfering in the lives of the citizens of the United Kingdom and good governance etc etc. The law is complex.  You will appreciate this.  This is why, I’m afraid, our expertise comes at a high price.

Mr ‘X’: Don’t worry about the money

Gomorrah QC: Thank you, I won’t.  There is, as it happens, an interesting article in The Times tomorrow (Max Mosley case: bend over, free speech, this is going to hurt), curiously, available on Pageflakes today, where the received wisdom is that Mr Justice Eady in the Mosley case may well come down in favour of Mosley and extend the right of privacy law.  We will not know until Monday… but I have every confidence, given that this tabloid alerted you in advance to publication…and they do not always do this… that we can get an injunction, buy some time, and even prevent the newspaper from mentioning that they are subject to an injunction and see what the lie of the land is when Eady J pronounces.  You will, therefore, have an opportunity to visit these wonderful Inns of Court and me again. How does that sound?

Mr ‘X’: Sounds good… may I have another..?

Gomorrah QC: Another what?

Mr ‘X’: Another consultation.

Ralph Gomorrah QC relaxed, clearly relieved that Mr ‘X’ was asking for another consultation and not something else.

***

Audio Version: WLM 18 – Der Peitsche
With sound effects and some good music

West London Man (17): Jolly snorting weather…

Audio version of West London Man (17): Jolly snorting weather

“Henley Royal Regatta was first held in 1839 and has been held annually ever since, except during the two world wars.  Originally staged by the Mayor and the people of Henley as a public attraction….” …. zzzzzzzz…

George yawned as he read the information on  the Henley Regatta website to find out where Henley was and groaned at the prospect of having to go there.  He was beginning to regret having invited the minor Sheik and one of his near neighbours.  George had absolutely no interest in rowing and the thought of spending hours by a glorified canal watching hoorays rowing up and down did not appeal one bit.

Caroline wandered into his small study and asked what time he was planning to leave for Henley.

“About 10.30, darling” George replied, turning to look at his wife who stood in the door way smiling.

“I suppose you’ll be drunk when you get back?”

“It is a possibility…thankfully the Sheik has to go to a dinner… but god knows how I’ll lose Buzz Lightyear.”

Caroline laughed…  “Your problem.  He is rather dull, but I did warn you. I’ll lend you one of my hand mirrors.  If you give it to him it will keep him amused for hours, apart from using it as a chopping board. Don’t worry if you are late.  Helen is coming round and we’re going to watch a DVD.”

***

As it happened George and his two guests did get to Henley in a hired limousine but found it rather dull. “Buzz Lightyear”, who managed to get through half a wrap of charlie on the way to Henley, did not help matters by stripping down to his Armani  underwear and swimming across the river in the middle of one of the races; causing some alarm as the Cox on each boat altered course fairly rapidly to avoid him. The decision was taken to return to London, partly dictated by the social opprobium visited on the three men as a result of the swimming episode,  and spend the afternoon at a pub in Chelsea.  The Sheik decided to go back to The Dorchester and rest.

George: So, Charles… bravo performance!

Charles: Yeah…. thought I could swim faster.

George: Well your legs were certainly thrashing away… and it was quite amusing when you grabbed one of the oars and nearly overturned the boat.  I don’t, however, think I’ll be going back to Henley after that tour de farce.

Charles: Got any gear? Mine got wet.

George: Jesus…. you are not telling me you keep your stash in your underwear are you?

Charles: Yes.

George: The mind boggles.  Remind me not to have any of yours next time you offer.

George took out his wallet and slipped it under a copy of The Guardian that was on the table.  Charles glanced from left and then to right, picked up the wallet and walked in to the pub.  He returned a few moments later, slipped the wallet back under the newspaper and hailed a passing waitress to order some Champagne.

Charles: good… good… so, mate… how are things?

George: Well, apart from the fact that you have asked me eight times already today, and not much has changed, they are OK.  Caroline has started working again. Business is getting a bit tight and the kids are fine… you?

Charles: Good… very good.

Cosmo reached into his jacket, took out his mobile, pressed a few buttons and held the mobile towards George.

Charles: What do you think?

George: Charles… I think you are showing me a picture of breasts… rather blurred…

Charles: Yeah…. from Latvia…

George: So you went to Latvia to take a picture of some breasts?

Charles: No… I met her the other night….

George: Charles… put your mobile away…. I’ll be right back.

George went to the Bar, ordered another bottle of champagne, and nipped off to the lavatory. As he was walking back to the bar his iphone rang

ring…ring…ring..ring.

George: Hello Katja… where are you?

Katja: In Henley, as I said I would be. You?

George: I was at Henley… we still meeting tomorrow?

Katja: Of course…. were you there when that weird guy swam across river?

George: Yep… in fact… I took him to Henley… I’m in Chelsea with him now. He’s flying.

Katja: OK… so it is problem for you, not for me.  I will meet you 1.00 tomorrow. I will text place to meet.

***

Audio version of West London Man (17): Jolly snorting weather

West London Man (16): “I busted a mirror and got seven years bad luck, but my lawyer thinks he can get me five.”

Audio Podcast version: West London Man (16)

I busted a mirror and got seven years bad luck, but my lawyer thinks he can get me five.
Stephen Wright, American actor and writer.

Wimbledon ticket prices plummeted when Andy Murray crashed out of Wimbledon after his straight sets defeat at the hands of the incredible hulk. Caroline has returned to work with her ex-boss Rod, and George is at home watching Criminal Justice, the new BBC five part drama. The children are staying with Caroline’s parents in Surrey for a week.

George had read that Bar Council Chairman Timothy Dutton QC had objected to the portrayal of barristers in the drama, written by former barrister Peter Moffat – issuing a press release to this effect on Monday 30th June.  Timothy Dutton QC stated: “The drama shows barristers acting in breach of their professional obligations. In episode two a QC encourages a client to provide a false defence to a Court. Such conduct constitutes a grave breach of professional conduct and would be grounds for the barrister to be struck off. The Bar Council is very concerned at the portrayal in this way of a profession which works to the highest ethical standards.”

George had watched the first two episodes on BBC iPlayer, but was at home to watch the third episode.  He rather liked the look of the female QC, Alison Slaughter. George, who had enjoyed nigh on a half bottle of Jack Daniels and several lines of cocaine, decided to ring his City lawyer friend Hugo. It was just after 10.00 pm

Ring…ring….ring…ring….

Hugo: Hello

George: Hugo…George here… how are you? I’ve been at the Jack a bit…. but have you been watching this BBC drama, Criminal Justice?

Hugo: I work until 11.00 at night, George.  I do not watch television dramas and certainly not dramas about criminal lawyers… I see quite enough law being done criminally each day… by other firms, of course.

George: Right.  Your profession doesn’t come out too well… very dodgy in fact…. lawyers trying to encourage their clients to put false defences.  Top banana at The Bar Council is none too pleased.  Been banging off letters to all the papers. Even the Evening Standard got it – although it was exactly the same story as the one in the Daily Mail.

Hugo: And your point is…. George?

George: This Dutton guy… he has a point.  Can’t have the legal profession being portrayed in an unfavourable light….. not good for values, for the economy… for society… respect for the law.

Hugo sighed, put his pen down, took off his expensive platinum frame glasses, put them on the desk and started laughing.

Hugo: Values?…. good to hear you know what they are…. I’d have thought if you were up on a charge you would want a barrister who bent the rules a bit?

George: Well…. you may have a point… but… hypothetically…. doesn’t Dutton have a point?

Hugo: Yes… Dutton has a point.  Whether he will achieve anything in terms of changing public perception by making this point is quite another thing.  The fact is that lawyers rank behind traffic wardens and estate agents in the affections of the public.  This has some benefits.  We are known to be rapacious, greedy, venal, bastards that no-one, apart from shrewd bankers, is surprised by the fee levels we charge… but, be that as it may,  the BBC must be delighted that Dutton has waded in.  Acres of news coverage for their drama.  Moffat replies, quite sensibly (a) that it is drama and, rather more pointedly,  said in the press today… and I quote from The Guardian… (b) “It is absolutely common practice for defendants to be prodded towards giving instructions which suit the best available defence.”

George: So Duttton is wrong?

Hugo: No… Dutton is right.  Moffat did, however also point out, as the Daily Mail reported, and I quote: “Timothy Dutton … seeks to reassure us that defence practitioners act to the highest standards. Does this include the barrister disciplined recently for punching his opponent in court? Or the defence practitioner who sent documentary ‘evidence’ (in fact invented and drafted by himself) from an internet cafe in Oxford Street to his opponent?

‘It is about time the Bar faced the fact that like every other profession it has brilliant and fair-minded practitioners, those of average ability and the violent, dishonest and stupid working within it.’

George: So there are bent barristers?

Hugo: You must reach your own conclusions on these matters, George.  On the other hand…. if you would like a professional opinion on the matter… I take AMEX, Visa and Mastercard…. do you have your card with you?… I need the 16 digit code and the three digit security number… and, as you are pissed, I may as well take your PIN number as well.

George: OK…OK….It’s only a drama…. and… yeah…. you don’t get many lawyers admitting to being lawyers down at Mahiki.  Fancy going to Mahiki tomorrow night?

Hugo: No… but we could try another bar or go over to Brinkley’s. By the way…  have you seen Katja again?

George: No… we had a quick shag at Ascot…. but she’s due over here again for Henley?  You going to Henley?

Hugo: Yes I am.  Why are you going to Henley, George?  You know nothing about rowing.

George:  Bit of business.  Day out… bit of drinking… the usual….networking…and tax deductible… got a minor Arab Sheik coming from Qatar or some other Emirate…. who likes to break free while he is over here… and, f course, Katja is coming over…. Oh… and I’m taking one of my near neighbours… an Audi Quattro TT driving prat who finds himself fascinating.

Hugo: I may see you there.  I must now return to my paperwork… time is money…. Profits per equity partner are rather important here.

***

Audio Podcast version: West London Man (16)

West London Man (15): 15 – love to George….

Audio version – West London Man (15) : 15 – Love to George

The English summer continues. Ascot has, thankfully, passed into memory and George has two tickets to watch the Murray v Haas game at Wimbledon. Caroline has tickets for the second week. George, it has to be said, has absolutely no interest in Tennis. His tastes are for full contact sports like rugby, but even George was surprised when a New Zealand mate of his phoned from New Zealand to name the four England players, allegedly involved in absolutely nothing at all, and certainly nothing of note in terms of exciting play or even vaguely interesting or diverting opposition against the All Blacks, and then moved on to talk about spit-roasting.

Caroline has been offered a post by her ex-boss and is spending the day at her old office to get a feel for things before making a decision on whether to accept the offer.

George has invited Rick, a musician who enjoyed some success with a band in the eighties. They arrived at Wimbledon shortly after 2.00. Two women were playing tennis, so George and Rick went off for some drinks and a bit of Class A

Rick: I can’t stand f******g tennis. Why are we here? I mean look at ’em. The place is crawling with chinless wonders, and…. see those two caber tossers with the Scottish flag painted on their faces. I mean… who the f**k plays tennis in Scotland?

George: Apparently the guy with the curly hair is a Scot… Andy Morgan… or something…. No… I can’t stand tennis either, but free tickets are free tickets – and they come with £200 in crisp twenties for drinks which should see us through. Champagne?

Rick: Nah…. I want some Pimms…. undiluted…. on the rocks and no F*****g fruit. I’ll have an umbrella in it though. I’m off to the bog for a sharpener.

Rick nips off to the lavatories to powder his nose. George organises the drinks and buys Rick a treble Pimms on the rocks. There were no umbrellas available at the Bar for the drink, so George put the Wimbeldon Lawn Tennis Club umbrella supplied with the tickets into the tall glass of Pimms and opened it up ready for Rick’s return. People nearby look on with mild disdain. Their disdain was soon to turn to severe disdain and a lot of middle class muttering and clucking. Rick returns, sees the Wimbledon umbrella stuffed in his glass of Pimms and starts laughing maniacally… and very quickly.

George: I’ll be right back. This is a bit of a Class A joint… so when in Rome…. time to get the Dyson out.

Rick: OK…see you in a mo, mate.

The two men drink for about an hour, talking quickly at each other, glance occasionally at others wandering about not watching the tennis, and get fairly drunk. Rick didn’t enjoy his Pimms so he went and bought a couple of double Vodkas for himself and a bottle of Champagne for George. He also bought some strawberries, mashed them into a pulp with his fist, licked the strawberry juice off his hand and poured the pulped strawberries into his two glasses of Vodka. After several more visits to the lavatory and further drinks orders, the two men make their way out to their seats for the Centre Court Murray v Haas match. The game starts soon after.

George: Come on Tim!….

Rick: Who is Tim?

George: He’s over there in The Royal Box.

Rick: Yeah… but who is he?

George: A tennis player…. he didn’t win Wimbledon…. . but few do. In fact, if you think about it… only one person a year can win Wimbledon… he was a good player but just did not make it despite the hopes of a nation…. but made piles of cash being British about not winning…..

Rick: Bit like most of us in the rock biz.

George: Same with our lot, really… in fact probably true of most people. A lot of people are pretty useless at what they do and get paid for it. I mean take newsreaders. Why do they earn shedloads for reading?

Rick: Yeah, mate…. same with Gordon Brown… “Started well, f****d up, still in power….. and he complains about that buffoon Mugabe being elected with no opposition candidate!”

George: You have a point…. not a great point, and certainly not set point, but a point nevertheless… and does it matter?… they’re all on the make… dodgy expenses, nannies who can’t type doubling as secretaries…. failing to comply with their own regulations….

Rick: Yeah… and some of those f*****s also cycle and don’t stop at red lights, ride on the pavement and cycle the wrong way down one way streets….C***s…

George: Yes… they are…. F**k I’m pissed…. that tennis ball is going incredibly fast…. Well done Tim!… play up… play up… play the game.

Rick: Who is Tim?…. ah… F**k it… I can’t watch this shit… I’m going back to the bar… fancy a drink?

George: Yes…. this is tedious.

***

Audio version – West London Man (15) : 15 – Love to George

West London Man (14): Royal Ascot – First Day

Audio podcast version: West London Man 14: Royal Ascot

The Summer Season progresses and today is the first day of Royal Ascot. George has taken the day off to take Caroline to the races. George did a great deal of research, read the website carefully, and decided to go with a black Silk top hat.

The car arrived at 10.00 and by 11.30 and George and  Caroline were in a car park greeting friends, also from West London. The champagne was on ice. George had tried his best to hire the Butler who was reported today in a Telegraph report about an unfair dismissal case throwing tantrums and smashing crockery because he did not want to do the washing up – but to no avail.

An early lunch was taken. A catering agency provided the victuals and a butler.

Caroline was talking to a close friend about returning to work. George was in a group of men, all from the City, talking about Barclays and HBOS. George then took one of the group to one side to have a private conversation.

George: Jonny… I think Caroline may be having an affair.

Jonny (Eton and Brasenose College, Oxford): Really? What makes you think so?

George: Long lunch with her ex-boss… she’s thinking of going back to work… told me that she was meeting up with a girlfriend in the evening… but called the girlfriend to speak to Caroline on the pretext that I couldn’t get through on Caroline’s mobile. She wasn’t with Caroline and not quick enough to cover.

Jonny: I see. And… what are your thoughts on this?… laissez-faire?… licence to yourself?… I mean, you’re not exactly a saint. Not a great time for divorce and financial settlements, I wouldn’t have thought.

George: Divorce?… no way. No… I’m quite pleased as it happens…

One of the other men walked over, already mildly over refreshed, and the moment of confidences was gone. Lunch was completed and the group wandered off to watch the races. The Queen arrived in a Landau drawn by grey horses. The BBC commentator muttered something about the fact the horses had been at The Trooping of The Colour on Saturday and that the livery worn by the horsemen was peculiar to Royal Ascot.

The party watched the jockeys being paraded for the crowds’s attention – a Royal Ascot first – and George asked one of the group where Becher’s Brook was, only to be informed that it was in Liverpool. George was not phased by this information and wandered over to talk to Caroline.

George: Enjoying it?

Caroline: It’s great… you?

George: Absolutely… I’m going to wonder about… have a look around.

***

George grabbed a bottle of champagne, filled his glass and wandered off, taking the bottle with him. He had walked but fifty yards or so when his iphone rang.

George: Hello

Katja: I can see you… you are about fifty yards away. How are you George?

George stopped in his tracks, quickly scanned the crowd and saw Katja standing ina  group of men wearing grey top hats. She was the only woman in the group.

George: Katja… got you… who are the guys?

Katja: Bankers… a partner from a City law firm and a partner from an accountancy firm. How goes it?

George: It goes well…. can you get away… place a bet or something, powder your nose?

Katja laughed: I can do all three… shall we both powder our noses?

***

Audio podcast version: West London Man 14: Royal Ascot

West London Man (13): Friday 13th…

Audio Podcast version of West London man (13): Friday 13th

It had not been a good day for George. in fact, predictably, it had been a very bad day. The oil strike wasn’t going as well as hoped. Shell had filled up all of their petrol stations well in advance and most stations had enough fuel for four days, the length of the strike. Although there were a good number of panic buyers as he had driven through West London earlier in the day – there weren’t enough. TV film crews may have put some serious panic buyers off by doorstepping drivers as they filled up. George’s mood had brightened momentarily on hearing that another strike was planned for the following weekend. It was time to offload the position he had taken.

George turned his attention to the news that The Irish had voted ‘No’ in the referendum and called his friend Hugo, the City lawyer.

Ring… ring… ring…. ring….

Hugo: Hello

George: Hugo it’s George. Just lost a fair bit on oil trades, lost a bet on the f*****g Irish referendum and Caroline is seeing her ex-boss again to finalise details about returning to work.

Hugo: Sounds bad, Sounds good…. won’t it be good for your financial planning if Caroline gets back to work… profit not cost centre… as it were?

George: Sure… but the downside is that her Mother is going to be about the place a bit more to look after the kids. I’ve offered to organise a replacement nanny, but Caroline wants her mother to help her, not an au pair… so game over on that one. At least Katja had a sense of adventure.

Hugo: OK… so you shagged the nanny… fine. Surely you don’t pay your mother-in-law?

George: Pay my mother-in-law for a shag? Of course not…

Hugo: George…. Not even you would shag your mother-in-law. I meant… surely you don’t pay your mother-in-law to babysit.

George: We do…. minimum wage plus tube fare each way…. cash.

Hugo looks at his watch, glances at the papers on his desk, glances at his screen to see five emails incoming, raises his eyebrows and sighs.

Hugo: Incoming. Need counsel’s opinion on something… urgent. Got to go.

George sits back on his chair. Most of the guys have left the floor. A small team working on pork bellies or some godforsaken US concoction are in a huddle about twenty yards away.

Ring…. ring… ring…. ring….

George: Two…. yeah… usual bar.

George took a cab to a bar nearby, made a quick transaction and headed off to Chelsea to see who was about. The cab pulled up outside The Builder’s Arms about half an hour later. He would pick up the car tomorrow. The Bar, as usual, was crowded… but there were some good looking women in a group in the corner. As George came out of the gents and walked back to the bar he saw Katja reading an email on a Blackberry…..

***

Audio Podcast version of West London man (13): Friday 13th

Complete with some rather good music….

West London Man (12): Panic buying

George has just talked to one of the analysts at work in The City. He calls his wife Caroline who is at home. Caroline went out to a very long lunch the day before and is sleeping in. Her Mother stayed over and is looking after the chidren.

Ring… ring…. ring…. ring…

Caroline: Hello.

George: Caroline… hi… how are you?… good lunch? I got in a bit late I’m afraid so slept in the spare room so as not to wake you.

Caroline: Hello… George… I’m still a bit sleepy…

George: One of our people has just sent around a memo. There is a petrol strike on Friday. Can you get over to the filling station in both cars this morning and also buy some plastic containers and buy as much petrol as you can? Homebase or B&Q should have some and buy a couple of garden water butts as well… that way we can build up a decent stock of petrol

Caroline: Why?

George is hyperventilating slightly as he responds to this.

George: Because there’s going to be a shortage and I don’t want to run out of petrol, darling….

Caroline: George… this is silly. I’ve just been listening to the news. The strike is for four days, the government has said there is no need to panic buy…

George: Caroline… this government would tell you it is 1997 if they thought they could away with it. Please just get some petrol. If you can’t handle this, I’ll ring an employment agency, hire some guy for the day and get him to do it.

Caroline: That’s a good idea, darling… why don’t you do that? I want to give Mum a treat for looking after the kids yesterday and last night.

George: OK… OK. I’ll get onto it. I’ll get back to you.

Click

***

Caroline got up, slipped on a kimono and went downstairs. The children were watching a video on DVD with tractors in it. Caroline’s mother, Saskia, was reading The Telegraph and drinking a latte. She looks up as Caroline comes into the kitchen.

Saskia: Hello darling…. good night?

Caroline kisses her mother on the cheek, says good morning and wanders over to the Aga to pour some coffee.

Caroline: George says there is going to be a petrol strike and is sending some guy over to fill up the cars, buy petrol containers and water butts and stockpile petrol in the garden.

Saskia: Do you think that is wise?…. storing petrol in the garden?…. It isn’t that long ago that he set fire to the shed and burned down part of your garden at the barbecue……

The two women burst out laughing. Caroline sat down and sipped her coffee.

Saskia: So how was your lunch with your ex-boss?… going back to work?

Caroline: Mmmmm … it was good… very good.

West London Man (11): Biscuits

Audio Version: West London Man (11): Biscuits…

Friday 6.00 pm: George calls Hugo his friend who works for a City Law Firm. Caroline has called to say that she is going out for drinks with an old friend and that her mother is looking after the children for the evening.

***

Ring… ring…. ring…. ring

Hugo: Hello

George: Hugo,  it’s George.

Hugo: Hello, George what can I do you for this late on a Friday afternoon?

George: What sort of biscuits does your firm serve up to clients at meetings?

Hugo: What sort of biscuits? I’ve know idea… why? Have you started on the sherbert a bit early?

George: One of our compliance guys is a lawyer. He read on Rollonfriday that there has been a survey of what biscuits City firms have served up. I’ll quote from the report: “The quality of a firm’s biscuits are the key to its success….. A poll of 1,000 business people by Holiday Inn has found that lawyers are the professionals most likely to be impressed by a decent selection of biscuits. 80% of those who were quizzed said that the type of biscuit served to clients could have a bearing on the outcome of a deal, and chocolate digestives are apparently the top choice. Hob Nobs and Jammy Dodgers also did well.”

Hugo: For Christ’s sake George…. I’m not interesting in F*****g biscuits… is that all you called about?

George: No… of course not. Caroline has gone out tonight with an old friend. Her mother is looking after the children…. just called to see if you fancy a drink. I want to run an idea up the flagpole. We have an elephant in the room over here and I’d like to have a preliminary chat. You can bill an hour and then we have some dinner and the evening is ours.

Hugo: Yes… sure… not a problem. Been here since 6.00 this morning. Meet at The Law Society in Chancery Lane?

George: You’ve got to be joking, Hugo….. nope… let’s go somewhere a little bit more lively. Groucho Club… the doorway with the Duck tiles on the floor. Ask for me at reception and I’ll come out. I’ll be there by 7.00

Hugo: OK. See you at 7.00

***

Audio Version: West London Man (11): Biscuits…

Other episodes of West London Man (Some with audio versions / sound effects / music)

West London Man (10): Caroline talks to a friend….

George is at work in The City. Caroline has taken the children to a private nursery for the morning and has parked her 4X4 in a quiet road in West London. She has to talk to a friend and former colleague at the weekly magazine she used to write for.

Ring…. ring… ring ring….

Receptionist: Sisyphus…. Good morning….

Caroline: Good morning… I’d like to speak to Roderick Davidson… please.

Receptionist: Putting you through.

Roderick Davidson: Rod Davidson…

Caroline: Rod… it’s Caroline.

Roderick Davidson: Caz… Hi…. good to hear from you… long time no speak… how are you? How is the King of the Jungle?

Caroline: How long have you got?…. George is fine…. enjoying his life and…

Roderick Davidson: Missing us?

Caroline: Yes… in a word… I need to work… I need to write again. Any openings?… freelance spots?

Roderick Davidson: Of course… freelance is not a problem… but do you want to come back full-time?

Caroline: Can’t do full-time… but I’d like to do 1500 words a week … blog format… anonymous for the moment… I want to go back to what I used to write about…

Roderick Davidson laughed: Pick your name… you know the rates….

Caroline paused for a moment, smiled and said: Persephone… that’s the name I would like for my piece….

Roderick Davidson: Caz… a subtle mixture of marriage, power and, of course…. Peresephone had no security or stable position… so perfect imagery for freelance work…. Charon will, I am sure, keep you supplied… but does this mean you are looking for an Adonis?

Caroline: Rod… I’ll write… and… who knows… I may find it interesting to take my four months with Adonis. Time for lunch?

Roderick Davidson: Definitely time for lunch… Friday?… It’s a pity that we can’t go to Granita in Islington…where it all began….. how about that place in Soho we used to lunch at?

Caroline: Friday is tomorrow, Rod….

Roderick Davidson: Indeed it is…. tomorrow?

Caroline: I’ll see you at 1.00…. The Union in Greek Street.

***

The audio version may or may not follow – but won’t tonight.

***

Editorial Note: Persephone did not mess about…. When Hades pursued a nymph named Minthe, Persephone turned her into a mint plant.

West London Man (9): Short suits and other matters…

West London Man (9):  Short suits and other matters – Audio version

West London Man has been dealing with domestic matters for the last few days. Caroline is still mourning the loss of Katja, the nanny / housekeeper, who is now doing world class M&A analysis for Bank Polski back in her native Poland. The cleaning is not a problem – an agency arrives each day to deal with that – but the search for Katja’s Apprentice goes on.

George has been much taken with television and lifestyle magazine coverage of the new fashion in men’s tailoring – suits with shorts. He has just ordered two for the summer.

He turned up at his graciously appointed West London residence the other night shortly after 7.00.

George: Hello darling… how goes it?

Caroline looks at her husband, rolls her eyes and starts laughing.

Caroline: George… why have you cut the bottoms off your suit trousers?

George: I haven’t actually, darling. I’ve just had two summer suits made by my tailor. This is one of them. Cutting edge… don’t you think?

Caroline: Well… certainly cut something… George… you look ridiculous. I thought you had stopped all that dressing in the dark nonsense years ago….. really, George…. whatever possessed you?

George laughed, kissed his wife and went over to the drinks cabinet to open a bottle of ‘The Widow”.

George: Did you see that the C**t, Mugabe, is now blaming Britain for the food shortages in Zimbabwe?

George flicked his laptop open and clicked on The Times story

George: Yes… here it is… The Times is saying… and I quote: ” He said “our former colonial masters” had imposed “illegal sanctions” and tried to impose “regime change” by supporting the Zimbabwean Opposition. He did not mention that the Opposition claims to have won March’s presidential election – a vote he had been accused of trying to rig.”

Caroline: Yes… I did. Horrible business. It is a serious problem, George. Millions of people pushed into poverty and starvation. At least the international community is trying to do something about it.

George: Yes… quite… no… absolutely, darling.

George pulled his blackberry out of his jacket pocket and dialled….

George: Hello…. George here… Can I book our usual table?…. can you ask Chef if he has any lobsters? I fancy lobsters tonight. If he hasn’t got any in-house…. I’ll get a courier to get some over to him from town….. fine?….Chef has lobsters?…. Great!. See you in thirty.

George turned to Caroline… and told her, with a smile, that a baby sitter was on the way and they were going out to dinner.

***

West London Man (9):  Short suits and other matters – Audio version

West London Man (8): Legal advice…

West London Man 8: Audio version

George and Caroline went to a black tie supper party on Saturday. One of George’s ex-girlfriends, the wife of another guest at the party, told George that her investment banker husband was about to be fired in the next round of credit-crunch ‘re-structures’ and asked George if he knew a good solicitor who could advise her on the most efficient way to divorce to maximise her financial position.

George telephoned a partner in a City law firm, a close friend, to seek his advice. George had also read the article in The Observer by Amelia Hill: Divorce rush to grab redundancy pay-offs.

Ring ring… ring ring…

Hugo: Yes.

George: Hugo… It’s George. Sorry to catch you early on a Sunday. A friend of mine has a problem. Ex-girlfriend… husband an investment banker about to get Sugared…. wants some advice on how to maximise her financial position and divorce.

Hugo: George… no problem. Well, as you know, I’m not a family lawyer… but… I know where to find one find one for you. There’s an article in The Observer this morning about this very issue. Sandra Davis over at Mishcon de Reya who handle some pretty heavy divorces as you know – they were Mucca’s lawyers – told The Observer… and I quote: “When money looks like flying out of the window, love walks out of the door.” She said they’ve never been busier with stay-at home spouses asking what their options are. Another lawyer at Mishcon de Reya said… and, again, I quote “A trophy wife is aware she needs to get proceedings moving before he spends his redundancy and all the capital he has built up. But businessmen who lose their job often see it as an opportunity to head straight off to the divorce courts before they find a new job, so alimony payments will be based on their unemployed status.”

George: Bloody hell… What happened to love?

Hugo: Love? Nothing to do with it in some marriages, George. This article in The Observer is crammed full of family lawyers saying how busy they are at the moment…. here’s another one… James Stewart, a matrimonial partner with law firm Manches, said he has never been busier, but it is not just wives coming through his door. ‘In the last week alone, I have had two stay-at-home husbands inquiring about claiming the assets of their high earning wives.” George, I’d get your friend off to one of these guys. They’ll do the business for you.

George: Absolutely…. well… thanks for the advice Hugo. Phew…. scary stuff. Thank God Caroline doesn’t read The Observer..

Hugo: Quite… everything OK at your end, George? No sub-prime exposure?

George: No everything is fine Hugo… just fine. Position covered. I owe you, Hugo. Drinks next Friday… Mahiki?

Hugo: Sounds good… Did you hear that the Police and the council are testing every bar and restaurant in Kensington & Chelsea for traces of cocaine use?

George laughed: I did. Well no-one will need to fudge figures for that report. See you on Friday. Bye.

***

The Observer article went on to quote an anonymous blogger on www.hereisthecity.com explaining in painful detail why her husband’s redundancy from an investment bank has driven her to head for the law courts. I quote:

“It’s interesting how all these bankers have been writing in detailing their experiences and woes after being laid off,” she wrote, “How typical that they just think of themselves! How about the impact on their wives? Most of us didn’t sign up to share every waking moment with a down-on-his-luck egotist who spends his days moping around with a pitiful hang-dog expression and constantly relives past ‘glories’ in a feeble effort to retain what little self-respect he seems to have left.”

Excellent nonsense. Too many episodes of Sex in The City and Desperate Housewives?

West London Man 8: Audio version