Thursday, 8 May 2014




Sir Charles Siddeley Armstrong CEO, Capital Investment Corporation

London, New York, Dubai, Singapore


Sir Charles talking to Stanton Burke, wealthy entrepreneur, at the Cadogan Club.


            “Had a spot of bother the other day while quietly totting up the current value of CIC’s art collection.  Some young shaver in a waxy jacket managed to get past security, through reception and into my office while my secretary Monica, I call her Jane, had popped out to buy something for me to give my wife on her birthday.  He said he belonged to one of those wretched god-bothering NGOs collecting money for World Peace.  As I was thinking about putting a shilling in his tin, he went well beyond his station and began bleating on about the benefits of open-door immigration and why we should take tea with Johnny foreigner.  So I shot him. 

            “Jolly good job I had grandmother’s old service revolver in my desk – keep it for sentimental reasons, a memento of her military campaigns in Burma.  Anyway, this chap was lucky the gun’s got a sticky trigger and hell of a kickback – so not accurate even for short range shooting in the office.  The bullet must have missed his todger by a whisker and gone clean through his sack of nuts before lodging itself in the leg of one of my finest Queen Anne chairs – not lucky for me.  He made a damn awful fuss about it and a bloody mess on the carpet.  I tried to cheer him up by saying it was probably only a flesh wound and his todger had been saved by Goddo being on the right side of his trousers that day, but he didn’t seem to see the funny side of it. 

            “While he was doubled-up on the floor clutching his crotch with both hands, I extracted £832 from his collection tins and jacket pockets to cover the cost of chair repairs and carpet cleaning.  I then called our chaps in Security who eventually got up to the 14th floor and dragged him back down to the grand hall.  After a bit more bother getting his legs through the revolving doors, they threw him out on the street.  Looking down from my office window I must admit I admired this chap’s stoicism, staggering around on the pavement rattling his empty tins harassing passing bankers, who we know are very careful with their own money.  I prefer to put my spare cash into the cost-effective collection tins of well dressed political fund raisers standing on the steps of the House of Lords. 

            “Later that day I got a call from the boys in blue who said they’d received a complaint from the charity chap.  I invited them over and up to my office, and after a few questions they were happy with my assurance that I would have a quiet word with their Commanding Officer and the Commissioner.  They then went back down to take tea, not with Johnny foreigner but with their ex-police chums in our security suite.  From anonymous reports, I hear that much raucous laughter and swivelling of chairs went on until one of them accidentally hit a fire alarm button.        

“Anyway, I did think it right and proper to reward our security chaps with a big cash bonus for being called away from their professional tasks of watching the CCTV screens automatically switching from one camera to another and checking the zoom lens controls.  They also go on patrol to police their cap angles and check the symmetry of their well groomed short goatee beards in the grand hall mirrors.  Their sartorial elegance is second to none.  They’ve won 1st prize three years running for the City of London Best Kept Security Force.  But due to their badly blood stained uniforms they were worried about winning this year.  Therefore we’ve had to quickly commission and foot the bill for brand new bespoke uniforms with full regalia bearing the corporation logo in 24 carat platinum braid.

            “Of course HR and Accounts have been dealing with this but it’s ultimately my responsibility for office security – so I’ve told my secretary to carry a gun.  No idea where she keeps it – certainly haven’t seen it bulging under her tight clothes.  She said she’d rather not be seen wearing a shoulder holster because they’re not in fashion and it wouldn’t look right under or over her silk blouses.  I suggested a concealed thigh holster, but she said it would chafe on her stockings when crossing her legs.  So I suppose she keeps the weapon in her handbag – probably more ladylike.  Some women are fussy.

            “Trouble is, reading between the lines of an HR fe-mail, the chaps in security are just as fussy about wearing guns and holsters that would chafe on their legs, nipples and armpits, and distress the smooth lines of their well pressed uniforms. I do hope they’re not going girly and start asking for handbags.  HR also tells me they don’t want to soil their uniforms by getting sweaty chasing fleet-footed goody-two-shoes mercenary die-hards up to the 14th floor.  So for ultra tight belt and braces security I’ve given strict instructions to Jane, or is it Monica, to stay on guard at her desk and shoot these bloody tin-rattling bastards before they get to my door.  She’ll just have to get someone else to buy presents for my wife.  Can’t have bullets flying around my office damaging the furniture and the art works. 

            “Since the incident, the Commissioner and the CPS have quite rightly tossed aside all allegations against me, including armed robbery and attempted murder.  They will however be charging the charity chap with unauthorised entry, trespass and demanding money with menaces.  When he’s out of A&E and had his unexpected vasectomy reversed, he’ll have his day in court.  If he’s found guilty I’ll instruct our legal eagles to sue him and his World Peace wallers for all costs and sizeable damages for disturbing the peace and well-being of our sensitive security staff who, according to HR, say they now have nightmares when napping on the night shift.

            “This doesn’t surprise me.  When I first saw this chap in my office, wearing a bum-freezer jacket too tight and too short to keep a brass monkey’s balls warm, I thought he was queer – or wearing his sister’s clothes.  But I just didn’t have enough time to tell which side his buttons were buttoned before grabbing the gun. 

            Stanton dear fellow, you’re known as a man of many parts, a man of the world – do you think these young shavers enjoy certain psycho-sexual pleasures from various forms of uncertain mild or indeed wild masochism by being ignored, abused or shot for their passive guilt-instilling beggardom?  Did this charity chap really want me to send him on his way with only a flea in his ear and a penny in his pot?  Or was he auguring my ire about nicey-nicey PC immigration perverts to the point of refusal and a spontaneous response via the rusty barrel of grandma’s gun?  If he was getting turned on by masochistic martyrdom, he certainly came close to getting it.

            “It reminds me of the long gone days of yore when that self proclaimed young gun-of-a-sod went wandering about in the Middle East looking for a cross to bear – so what’s new about seducing someone in authority to assist in super-egotistical suicide? 

            “Actually, I could feel quite sorry for those post-modern rabid religiosos with a bomb belt, hell bent on instant induction to heaven with 78 virgins.  My wife is demanding enough – whenever I get a day off.  But she’s a good old fruit.  She’s completely refurbished our New York apartment, commissioned a new virile crew to man our yacht in the Bahamas and sent our two boys, James and Jeremy, off with Prince Harry for what she calls ‘man-up stuff’ trekking across the South Pole, albeit with film crews, helicopters and catering vans. 

            “I wanted our boys to sign on for Sandhurst – get stuck in with real men – learn how to get measured for tailor-made top brass uniforms – take command and order their chaps to shoot the enemy.  But James tells me the MOD is cutting back on khaki cloth and foreign tours in sweaty theatres.  And if he and his brother were to join the army, the only world they’d see is Salisbury Plain when sent out to play with their weapons. 

            “Heard from our friend the Brigadier the other day, and he said the MOD has now cut back on all new recruiting, except for a few young high-tech computer geeks with delicate hands and sensitive fingers.  Apparently, they’ve got a gentle touch on the remote controls that drive drones and press buttons to make surgical strikes on long distance targets – without too much collateral damage of course.  If this carries on, our brave boys in boots-on-the-ground won’t have any shooting to do – they’ll just be left with twitchy trigger fingers – no use to man nor beast.  I think the army’s gone soft. 

            “Sadly, my sons also seem to be going soft.  Instead of a man’s career in the army, or high risk hedge funds, or commando selling in shadow banking operations – they’re both going to go with the girls and study Media Studies – whatever they are.  Seems to me the whole country’s gone soft in the head with new-fangled software – let alone women bishops and queer weddings.  I can’t even get the Bentley out of the garage without some sat nav harridan telling me what to do.

            “Where was I – ah yes, the little wife.  Well, not so little these days and she certainly hasn’t gone soft – got tougher actually.  What with her acting as Clerk of Works for the construction of a new subterranean Olympic size swimming pool with a deeper than deep deep-end and high diving board underneath our Pimlico house, she’s dealing with hostilities from our new neighbours – Russian and Arab oilygarchs planning to build helicopter pads on their roofs.  If that’s not enough to cope with, she’s also hosting long lunches with the wives of Chinese billionaires in order to promote her sissy brother’s company’s new range of luxurious English lingerie for the little Eastern lady.  While I admire my wife’s sisterly loyalty to her younger brother, I’m not entirely convinced that a few decorative undergarments will prevent rich little husbands from getting entangled between the long legs of white Western supermodels. 

            “But if those cheeky Chinese chappies are here to dump their dirty money into building British nuclear power stations and fracking gas from the undisturbed depths of England’s green and pleasant land, I’ll use more than grandma’s gun to remove whatever surpluses of financial sperm they may currently possess.  World peace, my arse – more like a politically correct World War three waged by nouveau riche insurgents.  Wouldn’t surprise me if they put in an offer to buy Buck House, but Liz will never sell – and Phil can shoot them down with some colourful remarks about their national characteristics.  Let’s face it, we’re thousands of years away from living in a cosy global village. 

            “By the way, Reg Fortescue from the FSA rang the other day saying he’d like his team to have a routine look at our books.  But I think he was really looking for another 18 holes – so I’ve invited him up to the club.  He’s got a lazy eye, a dicky hip and a stiff swing but if I happen to get stuck in the rough, he’ll win and go home happy.  Better get him some Royal Box tickets for Ascot and Wimbledon.  We didn’t get to where we are today without getting to where we are. 

            “I must say Stanton old chap, I’ll be a lot happier when Jane, Monica whatever her name is, gets back from three days compassionate leave to visit her elderly mother in New Zealand. These young temp secs may be top notch typists but they haven’t got a clue about buying presents and handling guns.

            “Just bought another Matisse – must say it looks a lot better in the boardroom than the Pollock.”


            Meanwhile the wind howled high up on the Himalayas and low down in London between tall buildings.

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