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Archive for May 17th, 2008

AUDIO VERSION

Complete with music and realistic sound effects…. Here
(With an amusing recording of real cricket commentators – a classic piece of cricket commentating history)

West London Man rose early, as the light pushed through the clouds of a West London dawn. It looked like rain…

George took especial care to shave and dress in a cream linen suit, pale socks and brown suede broques from Jones the Bootmaker. He put on the MCC tie he had bought on Ebay and went down to the kitchen. Caroline was looking tense. It was Katja the nanny’s day off. Peregrine (2) was looking at the pictures in the Telegraph magazine.

“Well darling… how do I look?” George asked

“Mmmm… still not sure about you wearing that tie. You don’t know anything about cricket… what if a real member starts talking to you about cricket? They’ll rumble you straight away.”

“Darling” George said with a smile “I’m not going for the cricket… I’m going to get shitfaced with some clients. Don’t worry, I won’t be speaking to any members. I’ll see you back here at about 8.00 this evening, possibly later.”

George turned to his two children and said “Right…. the task today is straightforward. I’ve arranged for you both to be given £5. You are to go to the shops with Mummy and buy sweets at the best possible price and then re-sell them to your friends at the Saturday Club at a profit. The one who makes the biggest profit will get a reward, the other one, as you know, will be fired. Have fun.”

George left the house and stepped into the waiting limousine, a twenty foor foot white stretched monster with blacked out windows. “To Lords Cricket ground via the Oriel pub in Sloane Square to pick up my guests. Thank you.”

George leant back in his seat and poured himself a glass of champagne from the opened bottle in the ice bucket beside him. The limousine pulled up outside the Oriel half an hour later and three gentlemen all wearing cream linen suits with no ties, got into the car.

George and his visitors arrived at Lords about half an hour after that and, as it was raining, went off to one of the champagne tents in the grounds. George checked his Blackberry and saw the BBC cricket report from BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew on TMS

1320: Pudding can over-run to a third course – it’s still drizzling. If we re-start in this Strauss will have to come out in a snorkel.

FIRST TEST, Lord’s (day three, rain stopped play):
England 89-0 v New Zealand 277

“A magnum of Roederer Cristal please “George asked the pretty waitress behind the counter, producing his ‘Red’ Amex card to pay for it. Duly supplied, George and his three visitors went off to find a table…..

An elderly, distinguished, man at the next table, wearing a battered old panama hat, grey trousers, blue shirt, a MCC tie, and a sports jacket looked at George closely. “Rain stopped play… What do you think of Sidebottom’s show last night. Rather good I thought.”

George turned… “Absolutely…. brilliant innings….. got 97 didn’t he…shame he didn’t do the ton?

“Sidebottom?” asked the distinguished man, with a puzzled tone. “Sidebottom is a bowler, he plays for England and he got five wickets yesterday afternoon.”

“Absolutely brilliant innings “George said enthusiastically, warming to his theme “Yes…. I think the Kiwis are going to have a bit of difficulty getting The Ashes off us this time.”

The distinguished old man looked at his glass of champagne, looked up at George and, face reddening, said “The Ashes? …. We’re not playing for The Ashes…. we play Australia for The Ashes… ”

Fortunately for George his iphone rang.

“George it’s me, Caroline… it’s dreadful…. Katja has just called from the airport to tell me that she has got a job with a bank in Poland and is leaving us…. What are we going to do?”

“Darling… stay calm… stay calm. “George said quickly, pausing to gather his thoughts. “Caroline… phone our solicitor to see if we can get an injunction to stop Katja leaving the country. His number is on my laptop in the Sharks folder.

“George… don’t be ridiculous. How much have you had to drink? We can’t get an injunction to stop Katja leaving…we don’t even have a contract with her because you didn’t want to put anything in writing and… if you remember, we haven’t been paying tax. Do use your common sense. What am I going to do?…. I don’t know even know the new washing machine works.”

“Caroline… yes.. you’re right… not thinking too straight. Google cleaning agencies and see what they come up with. Put an advert on Gumtree. I’ll get onto it tomorrow – but… I’m sure I’ll be able to work out how the washing machine works when I get back… stay calm. If you need a pill… ring Dr Slaughter in Harley Street… and tell him you are my wife…. and need a pill…. to calm you down. He has my Amex details on file… and will be able to courier them across. 24/7 service so you will get a response. His number is also in the Sharks folder on the desktop of my laptop. Ring me if you need any further advice… stay calm darling.”

George put the iphone down, apologised to his guests and was relieved to find that the distinguished man was no longer at the next table. “Right chaps… rain stopped play…. but doesn’t stop play for us…. Cheers… let the games begin.

***

Audio version with sound effects and a classic real cricket commentary : Here.

Part II of George goes to Lords follows tomorrow.

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West London Man had been keeping his eye on the credit-crunch, the Northern Rock fiasco, the fall in house prices and the curious business of high street banks increasing their interest rates while The Bank of England reduces interest rates.

He did his research on house re-possession auctions… but the properties available were not, yet, suitable for his needs. So, he decided to become a gazunderer. He knew that an ‘epidemic of gazundering’ is sweeping through London and now blights one in five property sales – estate agents were reported today as saying in The Evening Standard.

The Evening Standard reported in their Friday 16th May edition that gazundering is a practice which involves buyers slashing their offers at the last minute before exchange of contracts – a perfectly legal practice – but ‘widely seen as unethical’ and one which brings misery ‘to thousands of anxious sellers’.

***

George works in the City. Investment banking friends, keen to bolster their incomes following the relative poverty of bonuses this year, have been been keeping F*xtons and other estate agents busy by making offers on properties all over London and then, at the last moment, pulling out on the pretext that house prices had fallen in the four to six weeks between making an offer and exchange – or, more imaginatively, citing that the bath in the bathroom had not been properly plumbed in and that water damge had knocked 10-20 % off the value of the property.

George, unbeknown to Mrs West London Man, his wife Caroline, had made an offer three weeks ago to a 78 year old woman, a widow with a wooden leg, who was trying to sell her house to downsize so she could send a donation to a housing charity to enable the charity to help other old people in the autumn of their lives. George offered to buy the widow’s house for £450,000, the going rate in Twickenham for a property of that type – but, an hour before exchange of contracts, iphoned his estate agent to tell them that he wanted £90,000 off the price or he would pull out. Fortunately, the 78 year old woman was well advised by her estate agent and said she would be happy to reduce the price by £70,000 for a quick sale. Unfortunately the widow was only able to give the housing charity £18 after paying for her new bungalow, solicitor, moving and other costs, etc etc.

George instructed his solicitor to exchange contracts on the revised offer price and move quickly on completion as he had a buyer who was happy to pay £450,000 for the property.

***

George has not told Caroline about this transaction.

***

There is no audio version of this episode. I am a bit over refreshed – see below.

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Sagalout?….

Today is the anniversary of my arrival on this earth just over half way through the last century. I am unlikely to have to worry about global warming in the long term for myself – but perhaps moving to higher ground may be best in the long term for those of you who read The Independent and / or who do have to take a long term view.

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