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For the Love of Money

For the Love of Money

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For the Love of Money

Lunghezza:
206 pagine
3 ore
Pubblicato:
Oct 28, 2020
ISBN:
9781800467583
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

The year is 1991. Jamie Miller and Bill King, both in their forties and living separate (relatively modest) lives, were unhappy with their lot. Life-changing experiences caused each to abandon their lack of ambition on a course to make a lot of serious money.
Eventually coming together, they find that they have actually been duped. With a feisty young Rachel Haines along for the ride, they discover that even before the age of online social media, crazy ideas, mad schemes and fake news — including beaming a laser-powered advertisement across the entire face of the moon — could be the path to fortune.
Bill Whiting spins a tale following three characters determined to make money. For the Love of Money is a sardonic, satirical and humorous take on the worlds of finance, newspapers, the internet, advertising and Parliament.
Pubblicato:
Oct 28, 2020
ISBN:
9781800467583
Formato:
Libro

Informazioni sull'autore

Bill Whiting was an advertising copywriter and marketing executive with several large companies before joining a major retailer as Marketing Director. After several years developing the company’s new businesses in Asia and Eastern Europe, he was appointed Chief Executive. He retired in 2005.

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For the Love of Money - Bill Whiting

Copyright © 2020 Bill Whiting

The moral right of the author has been asserted.

Apart from any fair dealing for the purposes of research or private study, or criticism or review, as permitted under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, this publication may only be reproduced, stored or transmitted, in any form or by any means, with the prior permission in writing of the publishers, or in the case of reprographic reproduction in accordance with the terms of licences issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency. Enquiries

concerning reproduction outside those terms should be sent to the publishers.

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ISBN 9781800467583

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data.

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

Matador is an imprint of Troubador Publishing Ltd

To Towser

Contents

PROLOGUE

ONE

TWO

THREE

FOUR

FIVE

SIX

SEVEN

EIGHT

NINE

TEN

ELEVEN

TWELVE

THIRTEEN

FOURTEEN

FIFTEEN

SIXTEEN

SEVENTEEN

EIGHTEEN

NINETEEN

TWENTY

TWENTY-ONE

TWENTY-TWO

TWENTY-THREE

EPILOGUE

PROLOGUE

The year 2020 had arrived and so had Jamie Miller’s sixty-ninth birthday. He was doing nothing much, and didn’t want to do much either. And yet he had the world at his fingertips, just as everyone else had who owns a smart phone. How the world had changed, he thought. It was a new age of internet shopping, Facebook chatting and Google investigating. Shops were disappearing, face-to-face conversations were dwindling and heavy volumes of encyclopaedias were long gone.

He often pondered how, in one way, ordinary people can now see everything, as if living in a satellite, equipped with a powerful telescope and circling the world. And yet, in quite another way, they also now live in a goldfish bowl, where everything they do is also seen by others.

The new technology age brought many new freedoms and conveniences, but many new restraints too. There was Woke hovering above many thoughts; fake news blurring much truth and reason; and internet trollers prowling to inject hate and insult over the all-pervading cyber world. And yet, he was more amused than troubled by this new world. After all, in some curious ways, he had seen it coming.

And big product brands were still all around the world. Brands, he knew, are like people.

Think of your favourite big brand name… he’d once told his two partners, …like a drink, a washing powder, an airline, a cosmetic, a car, item of clothing, whatever. And then think if that brand was a person, what kind of person would it be? A man or woman? Old or young? Cheerful or serious? Ebullient or quiet? Gentle or tough, whatever. You see, you’ll find they’re personalities; they’re people – and that’s why we relate to them.

But more important: he also knew that brands need to be famous, because fame brings fortune.

ONE

It was 1991, an eventful year. The Cold War ended as the Soviet Union collapsed and the coming Gulf War was ignited when Iraq invaded Kuwait. Meantime, world-acclaimed singer Freddie Mercury died and yet-to-be-acclaimed singer Ed Sheeran was born.

However, little of importance was on Jamie Miller’s mind as he anticipated sitting through a Sure-Thing Home Improvement sales conference, an experience which he expected would peak at tedious and plunge occasionally into excruciating. But one moment and one spoken line was about to make it a life-changing event.

Miller was an advertising copywriter whose career was steadily approaching the edge of a steep cliff. It was a rare day at the office when his notepad did not contain a scribble such as ‘Doomed!’ or ‘Dead Meat Miller!’

But he felt there was little he could do about his dwindling career prospects. For a start, he was forty-one years old, well past the normal corporate shelf life for a copywriter. He should and could have won promotion to a managerial position more suited to his age in this youthful industry, but simply lacked the necessary motivation.

And with advancing age came a debilitating cynicism. A sizeable part of his life had been devoted, among other things, to promoting wrinkle-diminishing properties in soap. And doing that well, and with conviction, demanded either a spontaneous eruption of childlike enthusiasm, or an ability to muster some rational inner belief that the war against wrinkles was a worthy life-devoting creative cause.

The fresh-faced marketing executives who came to Miller’s advertising agency as clients certainly thought it was a fight worth winning, whatever the cost in soul destruction. Their product was, after all, ‘scientifically proven’ to lessen wrinkly skin; and focus groups demonstrated that the wrinkle is a missile with the certain power to annihilate many women’s life-sustaining self-esteem. Oblivion awaited many of the wrinkled, with only a handful of celebrities then able to continue a meaningful existence, either as real-life ‘Plastic Pams’ or, more ethereally, as air-brushed images in magazines.

Until 1991, that is. Enter, stage left, Peter Pan with Sambar’s Soap, now with active B47 and Biochloranoid! Miller was still managing to look and sound excited by such technical breakthroughs, with their pregnant promise of global happiness. But it was becoming an increasing struggle to do so.

The last cosmetic pitch he had presented was successful, but it was a close call with rival agencies, and the account had only been won because a low creative work fee was offered – with no commission at all on media bookings. In fact it was a loss-making deal, but was considered worthwhile, given the prestigious nature of the brand and the kudos it would bring. Indeed, Miller had presented the work with a gusto that would have merited a cure for world poverty. But it was hard; as difficult, he thought, as being paid to make love to a very smelly, sweaty woman with no teeth, warts and a major wind emission issue.

Before writing the winning campaign, he helped his morale a little by writing numerous spoofs. He had even fantasised about presenting one of them as a means of securing a spectacular career exit, rather than the slow, undramatic and dwindling occupational death now in prospect.

Picture Winston Churchill, he imagined himself saying…

It’s a black and white grainy film and he’s in front of a BBC radio microphone. And there’s a badge on his collar reading: ‘Chairman – Sambar’s Soap’. We then use a computer animation to make his mouth move to a dubbed voice-a-like who says…

The battle against female facial hair is over. The battle against the wrinkle is about to begin. The full might of air pollution, excessive sunlamp use and alcohol consumption has now been turned upon us. We have a choice. Do we cower and succumb, and so allow the sinister forces of age contaminate, burn and rape the skin of our womenfolk, till they all sink into a dark abyss of creepy, leathery-skinned reptilian life? Or do we stand and fight and turn the power of enlightened science to benevolent purpose? And in so doing, take ourselves, once more, into those broad sunlit uplands of high self-esteem, where the smooth-skinned, rosy-cheeked women of Britain will, once more, ensure the unblemished survival of our great island nation.

And then Churchill would give a V for Victory sign as the picture fades to a Sambar’s Soap bar label and the words: ‘For a wrinkle-free face that never surrenders!’

Miller was far from being career-suicidal enough to actually present such ideas, but having these fantasies cluttering his mind was a handicap when it came to presenting the real thing. The Sambar’s marketing executives had a deep affection for their soap, but when presenting advertising pitches to them, Miller had to struggle to keep the fast-emerging cynical piss-taker inside him well hidden. And indeed, as he sat in the conference hall awaiting the appearance of the Chief Executive of Sure-Thing Double Glazing, he was again feeling the same sense of guilty exclusion which must have so troubled Judas at the Last Supper.

As copywriter on the Sure-Thing account, Miller had been invited to the sales conference by the firm’s marketing director, the very shiny and ebullient thirty-five-year-old Stephen Thomas.

Thomas had intrigued Miller as being the most extremely clean person he had ever met. From his flawlessly groomed hair to his gleaming shoes, he always looked immaculate: like a new and unused factory-fresh toy, just taken out of its box and cellophane wrapper. He had designer clothes, designer spectacles, snow-white teeth and the lithe body of a Brazilian footballer. Not so much as a single rogue nostril hair blighted him. And Miller thought he could have been a drawing from a comic or a Tussaud’s waxwork, except that he moved and talked in a manner entirely consistent with biological life. On the day Heaven assembled him, he must have been at the front of the queue when the angels dished out the body parts.

Thomas was also blessed with abnormal energy and a permanent level of vibrant enthusiasm, which Miller had only experienced himself as a child on Christmas morning. Thomas always shook hands vigorously, spoke very quickly and loudly, and moved in a fast and jerky manner, like a cartoon character. And, with an ecstatic tone of voice that might usually be associated with a just-announced lottery winner, he said things like, Jamie, this new lock cylinder will last indefinitely without oil or grease or any other lubricant. It’s self-lubricating! It’s unique – and unique sells big time. Stonking, eh?

Say goodbye forever to that sticky door lock misery! Miller mused out loud, and somewhat playfully, in reply.

Not bad, Thomas barked back, not bad, but you need to show it… maybe have some harassed woman breaking a long painted fingernail on a sticky door slider – and giving her useless husband some serious grief.

Miller resented Thomas deeply. He could live with the fact that, by comparison, Thomas made him feel like a pale, gap-toothed, bald and diseased old bloke with a big yellow piss stain on his trousers. Less bearable, however, was Thomas’s constant bubbling happiness and contentment. It wasn’t a happiness born from introspective thought, intellectual struggle or spiritual search. It was much deeper than that. It was the complete here-and-now satisfaction of a cat with a bowl of cream – a cat unburdened by any guilt from sins committed in the past, or any fear of events imaginable in the future.

Miller made a decent living; had a more stimulating job than most and had a nice and comfortable, if modest, dockside apartment. He had separated from his wife three years earlier, but on amicable terms. They did not have children and, Miller suspected, the absence of such responsibilities had accounted in large part for his lack of ambition.

He knew his life could be a lot worse, and was for many, if not most people. But he wasn’t happy. In fact, for whatever reason, not one thing in the wondrous world made him as happy as the self-lubricating lock made Thomas. Miller had never wanted a lot, and his circumstances in life were not a result of deliverable design or any plan. They had just happened to him. For better or worse, he had always been shaped by events and never shaped them. It had always been easier just to accept and get on with things as they happened. Watching television was easy and painless; taking thoughtful stock of his life was altogether more disturbing. And his slowly disappearing career path bore testimony to his apathy.

Long ago, he should have moved on from his creative role and into agency upper echelons. Creatives were generally under thirty and entirely un-decayed. They had sparky brains, with little pre-programmed structure to obstruct whacky ideas. Unlike Miller, they were entirely free from both the psychological barriers erected by memories of past failures, and from the irresistible channels furrowed by recall of previous successes. To the young mind, every product and every creative idea is new, original and important. But nowadays, Miller always felt he’d been there before many times, and the self-lubricating lock would only be exciting if it also wrote poems and had the power to make a fat woman’s bum noticeably smaller in two minutes.

He had been told long before that he would one day regret his lack of ambition… You’ll wake up one morning and find yourself working for an arsehole who’s much younger and much dumber than you – and you’ll just have to lump it.

That day had since arrived. In fact, three higher layers of management weighed down upon Miller, two of which were occupied by much younger employees than him, and all three of which he considered to have much dumber occupants. Also, his perilous career prospects now threatened the material comfort base which had enabled his embedded apathy to prosper. He had a very heavily mortgaged property, after paying an expensive settlement to his wife.

Even so, apart from a good roof over his head, Miller did not want much for himself. No Porsche, no home cinema, no swimming pool, no safari holiday and no prestigious management position. Not even admiration: he hadn’t and didn’t much care what people thought of him. He’d even given up a brief flirtation with golf after realising he simply didn’t care in the least whether he won or lost. And without the motivation of victory, the absurd mechanical activity itself – hitting a small ball into a small hole using only a special stick – seemed insanely pointless.

But he now realised that his years as one of life’s casual observers was about to end. No job and no money meant no roof and no peace. Instead of staring at the world, the world would stare at him and not least, the bank manager wanting his interest paid. Miller now imagined unemployment. The world would be staring at him, and shouting for payment, with eyes popping, teeth clenching and lips stretched. He would be responsible. He would be the only one to blame. And he was the only one who could provide a solution.

No longer could he afford to laze in obscurity, like the redundant appendix of the human stomach. No, now he felt more like a small cog in a gigantic machine. He might look insignificant and be neither cheered nor chastised. But many smaller cogs turned below him and many bigger ones above him, and they were all connected. If he stopped they stopped and the machine stopped. And if he didn’t keep smoothly turning he would be replaced. And he’d be binned.

All this was now dawning upon Miller. He’d always felt that all the other cogs were turning him, and was content with this passive role. But now he realised that, as his teeth wore down and his bearings slipped, he was making an ominous threatening rattle – and was being eyed for replacement. And there was nothing he could do about it. He was not everlasting or self-lubricating.

But none of this was at the forefront of Miller’s mind as he sat in the conference hall, watching the Sure-Thing delegates troop in to take their seats. There were about two hundred of them, almost exclusively male, for whatever reason. And they all looked strangely similar, in dark suits, white shirts – and red ties, printed with the Sure-Thing Double Glazing logo. Miller sighed deeply, as he rose to let delegates into

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