Monday, 22 October 2007

Sleeping on the job

How silent does a silent partner have to be? Be honest now, you stick a couple of hundred grand into some hare-brained restaurant scheme and you want a bit more than a drinks tab and a fifty-fifty chance of flogging it to Derek Lilley when he next comes out of retirement. You want cashflow, a full house every night and some kind of say in what the menu looks like.

In the last couple of months I’ve passed on a couple of these so-called investment opportunities in the leisure business. You basically have to stick a load of dosh in a pot marked “funny money” and think of it as an extended lads trip to Puerto Banus. You have a laugh along the way, fair enough, but don’t expect to come out with much. If you do, it’s bonus time.

I’ve no idea where Tony “Fordy” Ford and Paul “Johno” Johnson are up to with that Ithaca “nite club” gaff, except they ended up falling out with the Catholic Church next door. There can only be one winner when you take on the Pope, lads. Haven’t you read the da Vinci Code?

My old mate Steve “Jacko” Jackson has stuck a few quid into this new pub in Preston – Cocktail Factory - which I’m told is “a new concept in nightlife for Preston’s more discerning socialite!” With a line like that it’s got to be a winner. Give Jacko his due, he sure knows how to mix business and pleasure.

Now, there’s been a lot of rubbish been talked about what went down at the Insider 42 Under 42 dinner last month where a pitching contest got a bit tetchy. What do you expect when you mix up clever lads with bottles of Pinot Grigio? You’re bound to get some fireworks. Some of the anti-Manc banter went a bit far, but the guilty parties are making amends by joining Greg Davis on his quest to build a boxing club in Wythenshawe with a charity “white collar fight night”. You wouldn’t fancy stepping into the ring with Greg, who used to be a bouncer at the Hacienda, but I hear that Mike Perls “of wisdom” is having a go and I reckon I could do him, easy. They say little fellahs get nasty, but he’ll be off the pace and knackered chasing round after all them kids he’s been siring.

Finally, I’ve piled in with Kenni James – great lad, by the way - on his new radio station, Tameside Radio – 103.6 FM. To be fair I assumed it was down London way, but it turns out you pick up a signal in Alderley on a windy day. He plays Lady In Red for Mrs C every morning, just as she’s getting on the rowing machine, which keeps her happy. Funny lad, Kenni. I can never really tell what he’s saying, but on the radio he’s even better than the legend that is DLT, clear as a bell. Anyway, I won’t be such a silent partner after all, he wants me to be the “voice of business” on the pre-breakfast show. Wey, hey, Take it to the (Staly) Bridge.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Going global

Everywhere you look there’s someone telling you to expand overseas. Export experts and globalisation racketeers telling you the latest trend. These people can’t tell me anything. In fact, they make me laugh.

Forget call centres in India, we’ve been doing that for years. Forget about getting a shed full of Chinese kids bolting circuit boards together. I wrote the book on that one. Nope, the real white hot heat of the globalised revolution is the opening of our new service centre and programming laboratory in Burma.

I’ve been out there a few times and it’s really going places. It’s one of those up-and-coming countries where things work with military precision. Once I’ve got my team in place I’m thinking of taking a few of the lads over for a sniff about. They could do with a few more golf courses; there’s a job for you Stevie James! The roads aren’t up to much once you get out of Rangoon – I’m sure there are plenty of contractors who know how to sort that out. It’s going to be brilliant once we start looking at the seaside resorts. Imagine Dubai meets Phuket. If Derek “Degsy” Hatton can make it in Cyprus with his botox clinic and the properties he’s flogging then I have to think we just can’t fail on this one.

That’s just another example of what I like doing best, opening doors for my pals to go and make a few quid.

I’ve also been learning a bit more about the diamond business from reading that Louise Tickle woman in the pinko green corner of Insider magazine. By the time I’d even got to the end of that article where she was going on (and on) about conflict diamonds I was right on the blower to Laurie “Eager” Beevers at WH Ireland seeing if I could buy at any price anything with Liberia and Sierra Leone in it.

You might upset the bleeding hearts to start with, but once you’ve had the ex-professional soldiers in to secure the diamond mines, give the locals a choice to vote for the Party of Corruption or the National Liberation Front for Backhanders they get the all clear, war’s over, and everybody is happy again. Especially my portfolio. Shame “Eager” didn’t have much going on, he asked me to punt on somewhere I’d never heard of, with too few vowels, that broke the golden rule of investment – never put your money into a country ending in “stan”.

Back here in blighty meanwhile you can’t fail to have noticed that the banks are getting a kicking. All the cheeky chappies with smiles who were falling over themselves to lend me ten times profit to acquire some fly-by-night telecoms company based on the edge of Yorkshire have suddenly gone very very quiet.

While I’m on, did anyone see that rubbish on television called The Dinner Party. To cut a long story short, the main character is handsome, successful, rich, has women crawling all over him, offers jobs to his neighbours and had forthright opinions about socialists and scroungers. Recognise anyone? And he was called Roger. Can you get any more obvious than that. What a liberty. Then they started to show that he was a vain bully with a dysfunctional kid. I was straight on the phone to my people – well, Mark Manley, my brief on such occasions – but there’s nothing I can do about it. This country, unbelievable.

Monday, 10 September 2007

THE DINNER PARTY - A STATEMENT

Having taken legal advice I am now considering what action to take following the broadcast of the dinner party on BBC 1 last night.

In that programme a character called "Roger" was played by Rupert Graves.

The Roger in the programme was:

a) successful
b) rich
c) right wing
d) had no real friends
e) a bully
f) lived in the south of England

I was therefore extremely concerned that this was a thinly veiled portrayal of me should have been broadcast without due consultation.

Tuesday, 31 July 2007

The man on the telly?

Right, I’m asking you lot advice for a change. I don’t make mistakes. Well, apart from that dodgy internet dog food business we floated on AIM, tried to buy back, then ended up breaking it up and using the cash shell to reverse in a luxury car hire business this fat lad from Wrexham reckoned he could franchise. It went bust and he legged it with the cash. He was last seen selling watches on the beach at Puerto Banus. We’re all allowed one mistake and I took my eye off the ball.

No, the question a shy and retiring entrepreneur from the right side of Cheshire wants to know is this: should I take the opportunity to raise my profile even more and get my handsome face on the telly? I’ve come close a few times. I did the pilot for Dragon’s Den, took their half baked advice, ignored it, but left the dragons begging me to let them buy into RC Solutions, I’ve had them all after me since. That Theo Paphitis even invited me down to Millwall for some jellied eels and lavish hospitality. Very nice it was too, certainly a different kind of day out from the time I went there with XXXX XXXX and his mates from XXXXXXXXX. What a day. You wouldn’t believe he was a XXXX partner with XXXXXXX now. A bit too violent, even for my liking. (Blanked out on advice of the lawyers).

Anyway, I did screen tests for this Channel 4 thing where I had to hang out with a load of poor people for a bit, give them some advice on how to sort themselves out and chuck a few grand at them. To be fair, the bird from the production company was quite tasty, but I bottled it at the last minute. You know me, I like to give money to charity on the quiet, nothing flash, just a few coins in the right places. Much as the old ego said – “Roger, do it, Roger do it,” just as it does every time I send my bank in Guernsey a few more millions, the head said “Don’t”. There are too many bodies buried out there. It could have ended up costing me ten million squids. Easy.

Now I’ve been asked by ITN Productions if I’d like to be profiled for a series called Britain’s Richest Men on the Discovery Channel, which will be watched by pretty much nobody, but that won’t matter to the missus. She’ll be happy enough inviting them into our lovely home, getting our interior designer Dawn Ward to blather on about how much she spent and what great taste she’s got, and all that sort of caper. Then just as Mrs C did when Cheshire Life came round, when she bought a copy for all 246 of her closest personal friends, it has a limited view. She’s already planning on a getting it on DVD and having a party at our place. I think she’s already booked Charlie Wolmersley to supply the pinot grigio. None of the people that matter to me will be any the wiser.

Does it sound like a plan?

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Everything's gone green

This green agenda is really getting my goat. No, not the eco warrior stuff, I’ve said my piece on that, there’s money to be made and I intend to make it. No, the green with envy stuff that starts with committees in parliament grilling the private equity boys and ends with some scrote scraping his keys down the side of Mrs Cashman’s Mercedes SLR outside our favourite new restaurant, London Road in Alderley Edge.
It’s high time the people in this country stopped taxing
entrepreneurs altogether. Instead of taking OUR money from OUR pockets, the government should be thanking us for employing people and for spending so much money in the economy. I reckon I must spend at least £2m a year on ‘stuff’ – that’s £350,000
a year in VAT straight to the government to go and waste on the National Health Service.
I refuse to get involved in a discussion with these nasty, bitter, hateful people who sleep under the blanket of the nanny state – that I provide – then have the temerity to question the means by which I provide it. I’d rather they just said "thank you" and went on their way.
Moving on, who says you can’t make money out of restaurants? Tim Bacon now has the best part of 20 million big ones after
flipping The Living Room. Quality. My mate Paul Heathcote is now chasing the same dream and splashing the dosh on some new scran houses as well. I told him ages ago to ditch all that poncey stuff and pile on the quality northern grub. He’s certainly taken my advice with London Road, which is just what me and the boys want from our nose bag providers: it’s done out in classy beige, glass and chrome with some hanging lamps. The food was ace as well.
The golf day season is upon us. I never miss Captain’s Day at Mere, though it won’t ever be the same again without Bernard Manning (RIP). The big man was never a racist, one year at Mere he picked an Asian lad out of the crowd and ripped into him for being a graphic designer. Why would be do that if he was racist?
No such jesting at the Hurstwood golf bash, just some proper Lancashire backslapping from Stephen "Ashy" Ashworth and the property boys. But it was either incredibly brave, or very stupid,
to put new Bentleys just to the side of the 18th hole at Worsley Park. I am reliably informed that was the reason why Dominic "swing low" Fussell left his clubs in the car this year.
Finally, I tucked my head round the door at Spinningfields for some bash organised by Andy "Spin" Spinoza – you’d think he’d have shook that barrow boy accent off by now – featuring that shrieker out of M-People, the one with the voice like a fork on a plate. Not a bad little do, but you get all sorts of herberts at these things, where you mix business with the trendies. Armani suits and ironic Northern Quarter-wear cheek by jowl is never a good mix. They look scruffy and the air is just too thick with envy. Muppets

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

I'm going green

You can’t turn on the telly these days without some hippy wailing on about the future of the planet. Chill out. It’ll be all right. Why so negative? As my business coach, Mike Finnigan, taught me: always look adversity in the face and spot an opportunity. They did. You can.
So, rather than turning the lights off and worrying about rising sea levels, I say: embrace the new tomorrow. A mate of mine is planting grapes in Alderley Edge for a future crop of Cheshire Chablis. And, before you ask, it isn’t Charlie Womersley.
I’ve also got this admission document for a new company floating on AIM that is going to make squillions. They make a hand-held nuclear reactor that fits into the socket on your Range Rover’s dashboard. When your idling along the M56 it generates enough electric to fuel Rob Cotton’s sunbed.
Think how much you’d get from it if you plugged it into Tim Knowles’ chopper.
I can’t tell you anymore than that because I’ve been made an "insider" due to one of the directors telling me more than he should have done.
Anyway, enough of that. There seems to be an unhealthy obsession with my social life since I appeared in Hello magazine with Dougie Barrowman at Silverstone. After a bit of property development and motor racing he’s now doing what he does best – investing in companies and making a few quid. Quite rightly he got sick of all the arse kissing that goes with being in corporate finance.
Me and Dougie go way back. Me, him and Tony "Fordy" Ford bought our Aston Martins on the same day back in 1997 to celebrate Labour getting in (honest). Mine was the most expensive, by the way.
Went to some do at the Midland Hotel in Manchester run by a mob called Manchester Pros (not that sort). Only went to hear John "Timmo" Timpson give some well-heeled (ha ha) tips and generally talk cobblers. Ten minutes into the keynote and all he’d talked about was Iraq. I realised it was a posh bloke off the telly instead. Simpson? Timpson? I knew I should have crossed my Ts.
I last went to Liverpool to remind Simon "Eddie" Edwards of Midas Capital about the importance of keeping an eye on my money. Sticking it in a biscuit tin doesn’t get me the compound growth that will fund a healthy retirement, but hopefully "Old Big Ed" knows what he’s doing. At their fifth birthday party I hung about to talk to Lord Wade (no nicknames, chaps, show some respect for a class act) about how the Tories are going to get back in next time. Chewed on a warmed-up spring roll and knocked back the orange juice. Whatever they do with a 1 per cent management fee, they don’t splurge on the catering. Good lads. I like prudence in a fund manager.

Saturday, 28 April 2007

The Price of Fame

I’ve been doing a column in Insider for about six months now and to be honest, I’ve got mixed feelings about carrying it on. First of all some people reckon I don’t even exist! They reckon I’m made up. Frankly if I didn’t exist, you’d have to invent me.

I bowled up at the Insider Young Professionals Awards with Vincent “Vinny” Connaugton and a few of the boys from Hale. How would I know that if I don’t exist?

Went to the FA Cup semi final at Old Trafford with some of the Blackburn Roverrrs lot from around town: Alec "Craigy" Craig, Andrew "Ducky" Duckworth and Roland Horridge all sorting out drivers for our convoy of a Bentley, a Range Rover and my Hummer. Me and Andrew "Dicky" Dick were just fellow travellers (he's Leeds). We pulled up next to the ground and some peasant from Lancashire called us Chelsea fans. "We're Blackburn," said Neil "Ducky" Duckworth. "Not in them fucking cars you're not, you look like the Russian mafia," said the scruffy twat. Has he never heard of the Ribble Valley?

Anyway, someone from the NWDA has complained that I give entrepreneurs a bad name – like he’d know.

Then there was a sticky situation on the door at the Newz bar in Liverpool the other week that was smoothed over by one of the local property boys recognising me – but it can get a bit much. Apparently the next best thing to a footballer for a Liverpool wannabee WAG is a Hummer driving business bad boy like me.

I get asked to speak at events as well. I can hopefully put a few minds at ease by dispelling rumours that I’ve been approached to compere this year’s Asian Business Federation bash up at Preston. Apparently after getting some muppet off the Apprentice last year, they got a bit of stick, and want a proven business success this time. Well it’s not me. Not that I’d be averse, but there are plenty of lads and indeed lasses who’d be more suited. Shaid Luqman would be good. He's got a tale to tell.

The danger is when you’re known as a player with a bit of the midas touch is that people are always after you to put a few quid into this or that. The amount of bars I could have had a piece of, it doesn’t bear thinking about.

We’ve been tapped up for sponsorship for the Manchester International Festival – which is good. I’m a big culture fan myself. I like the opera. But they don’t like it when you join in, do they?

And then there’s the charity bashes. If it’s not abseiling the CIS Tower it’s doing some Apprentice-style do at Sam’s. If you say no you’re difficult, if you accept everything they think you’re turning into that Yo Sushi bloke who’s never off the telly. You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

It’s even worse if you’re married. One of the boys got hitched to some Latvian piece a couple of years back, quiet as a mouse at first but now she knows the lingo she’s not happy sitting around watching Midsomer Murders and Jeremy Kyle.

She had her heart set on owning a deli and wanted the poor chap to stump up the Duane Eddies for it. How do you say no? Long story short – they ended up with a little gaff in Hale, “Cous Cous Bang Bang”. Cost the Earth and she lost interest after a few months anyway. It’s a nail bar now.

We’ve all got our crosses to bear though, and to be fair a couple of heads-ups I’ve had from Insider readers look like they’re coming up trumps. And let’s face it, the thrill of the chase is what it’s all about.

Wednesday, 4 April 2007

Massive International Pissup in the Med - That's MIPIM!

Been out at this property do in Cannes, MIPIM, as you do – although it’s a bit of a ball ache, what with Cheltenham and the cricket but it’s sort of expected. I was waiting for a nod on a couple of deals as well, and there are worse places to do business in March.

A few of the boys went via Amsterdam as per usual, but as I had business to attend to elsewhere I took up the offer from a pal of a seat on his private jet – can’t beat it, sailing past all the Easyjet muppets clogging up Nice airport with bubbles awaiting onboard..

It’s a funny old week, MIPIM. You’ve got all the cities out there with their stands trying to impress, trying to look busy so they don’t get grief for pissing away the tax-payers’ hard-earned. And then you’ve got all the property lads doing what they do best – getting mullered. There are the agents, bottom of the food chain, hanging around like sheep outside Caffe Roma, wondering why they’re there. The real deals are done elsewhere of course and those in the know aren’t telling.

Best thing this year was all the birds from Kazan, “Russia’s third capital” apparently, which all sounded like a spoof bit of marketing for the follow-up to Borat. The girls spent their days wandering around bestowing t-shirts and smiles on everyone and the evenings doing God knows what. You do hear some rumours during MIPIM week though. Some of the boys stayed down for the porn festival the week after, they’ve got some stories to tell.

Made it back to Cheltenham to chuck a few quid in Fred Done’s general direction. Didn’t back a winner all day. I was there with Paul “Becky” Beck – Freddie Flintoff’s best mate (TM) – and top insolvency chap Andrew “Dicky” Dick of Begbies, someone I’ve never had cause to have a “one of those” business conversations with. If Freddie manages to stay sober Becky has me on the bus for a trip out to the Windies.

Before I go, a word on cars. How hard is it to make a decision on a new motor? There are emissions regulations. Should you put it through the company? Should you register it to a private company so you can say the missus was driving it when you get flashed by a speed camera? Had that Louise Tickle woman mithering me about getting a bike, or, worse, a Toyota Prius. But, I’m a reasonable man, and after careful consideration of my own personal lifestyle needs, the carbon footprint and the look on the faces of the boys at Mere Golf Club when I roar into the car park for the Captain’s Golf Day I’ve decided what to do. I’m getting a Hummer.

Tuesday, 27 February 2007

Get this straight – mine is a North West business

Down the years, loads of people have told me “You need to be in London to be taken seriously”. That’s rubbish, just look at some of the Ernst & Young entrepreneurs regional shortlist each year (we don’t all go bust you know!)

I did set up a London office once, when the dotcom stuff started making serious dough in the late 90s, before it all went tits up. Back then the Yanks wouldn’t have picked Manchester out on a map of Greater Manchester let alone England.

Got a nice deal on some space just off Soho Square, with a guy I used to do a bit of business with – the “Great White” we used to call him, a big rugby lad. He got in on the ground floor of IT publishing in the 80s and we had a few shared interests, not to mention interests in a few shares. Never fancied those stripy jackets myself, so as a rule I’ve always steered clear of the City.

Truth be told you can’t beat London for nightlife, but we had some right bother getting the right staff. Chancers would be one word. One guy I hired as sales director disappeared into thin air, only for his name to pop up in the Sundays – turned out he was a bigamist who’d pulled off some scam regarding his first wife’s inheritance! Can’t see the problem myself, if he could handle two sets of earache good luck to him.

You wouldn’t beleive the trouble you have hiring. Most of the available staff are out of work actors (muppets one and all) or young hippy European birds. Mind you, a few of them brighten up the place, especially when you’re after business in Scandinavia. Not that I get involved myself, but being on a diet doesn’t stop you reading the menu does it?

No, once clowns like Boo.com had bitten the dust and the VCs started getting cold feet we’d already made tracks back up the M1. Why fork out thousands for a London shoebox when you’ve got the likes of Lord Tom Bloxham (is he a Lord yet? I lose track) knocking out space for peanuts? It’s not rocket science.

The Great White stuck at it but ended up getting in bother over a vanity project. He wrote this rubbish erotic novel and ended up paying for its publication when the directors kyboshed publishing it through the company. Ended up hawking them door to door down the Charing Cross Road. He rung last month – he’d backed the Dome to win the supercasino.

Friday, 16 February 2007

Contact sport

As far as I’m concerned business is a contact sport.
And I should know because I can play a bit.
I had trials for United and City when I was a kid.
Oldham even offered me a contract, but business is my field of dreams now.
That and the odd game of five-a-side with Rob Cotton and the boys from the National Computer Centre.
Good lad, Cotton, looks like John Terry, but he knows how to run a proper business.
We’re going to take his mob on in a proper game sometime soon.
Watch this space.
And don’t think we’ll do what Andersen’s did a few years ago and load the team with ringers from Latvia.
As for golf – I’ve got all the gear and no idea.
Got a membership at Mere, as you do.
Not that I ever play there.
They put on a cracking do though.
If you want a proper sportsman’s night out, go to the boxing.
I’ve just been with a few of the boys to see Ricky Hatton in Vegas.
Good trip, and not a muppet among them, and let’s face it, you can get a few on even the best trips. Marathon running is my game.
Like business, even if you can run, you can’t hide.
I’ve just done the Marrakech marathon – THE hardest marathon in the world: deserts, mountains, beggars and whole families on mopeds getting in your way. A bit like business, if you see what I mean.
The London marathon’s for clowns dressed as divers.
New York is for Sex and the City tourist weekend wannabees.
I sponsored one lad in that, Pete Clarke from Isis, he took six hours! I can get a deal shifted in that time.
Now I’m even thinking of sprinkling some of my strategic stardust on the world of football.
After losing a couple of buttons off my shirt on Mark Guterman’s punt at Wrexham and making a few bob out of Droylsden, I’ve got the taste for it. I’m putting a few chaps together to buy Lancaster City Football Club.
There’s a playing field next to the club’s ground – The Giant Axe – which we reckon we could get a few houses on.
Stick a fan on the board to appease the Billy Bunters, get Steve “Jacko” Jackson to send Preston North End and his lapdancing cheerleaders up for a friendly and we’re laughing.
Then I’m getting a board of directors together that will blow you away.
Kevin Roberts, chief executive of Saatchi’s to handle all our marketing and change the brand.
Deep down I think their problem has been the nickname, The Dolly Blues.
The Axe Men is better.
The Axe Men Cometh will be on all the posters.
It will strike fear into the hearts of the enemy.
I’ll make it work because deep down I’m a winner to my core.
European football within ten years, I reckon.
Maybe 15.Either way, you read it here first

Marketing genius

Mad busy at the moment. This business is going like a train. We needed to
bolt a few bits on to get the cash flow going. And word has got out.
Let me tell you about this one business that was on the block. No one wanted it – I mean no one would touch it with a bargepole. The building they were in was an absolute toilet and they were making no money at all.
We bought it, and between you and me, we absolutely stole it. The bloke we bought it off, I asked him if there were anything he hadn’t told me about. Was there something that would make me very angry if I found out about it later?
He went white, said he needed to walk around the car park for an hour. When he came back he said he needed to tell
me something. He puts his wife’s mobile phone through the business. Tut Tut.
We stuck a salesman in there who used to be one of the top guys at The Accident Group and wallop! Fantastic performance.
But you know how the boys like to gossip, word has got out. I would like to refute absolutely the rumour that I am going to make six big ones from this company. That is totally incorrect. More like £8m. Sterling.
These scribblers in the city who earn so-called “big bonuses” make me laugh. They should see my dividend cheque. That’s real success.
Since I’ve started this column all the VCs have been on my case and they all want a slice of my action. Who can blame them? We’re creaming it. But I need some cash to release to do this resi scheme in Altrincham and to buy me and the missus a drum in Majorca. All the Alderley boys have got one – a mate of mine’s setting up a radio station there as well. Worth a punt, eh?
Much more fun has been the attention I’ve had from every
PR company in town. They’re all the same. In comes the boss, good patter, one of the lads; invites me to Old Trafford or the rugby. Then he sends some youngster over in a tight top, fluttering her eyelashes and dropping pencils. What’s that all about? I learned all I need to know about marketing from Chris “Nibbo” Nisbet. A great lad, for a Scouser! He was telling me the tale of how he flogged a flat to Sophie Anderton, that model who got a bit fond of the white stuff, who was on Celebrity Love Island. He did all these posters and had her lined up to be the face of his scheme. When the whole TV programme thing went Pete Tong, he ditched it and knocked up these new ones from an old photo shoot he’d done with some wannabee model he met in Mosquito. Only turned out to be Peter Crouch’s bird, queen of the Wags. Class.

Business isn’t all about work, work, work.

We like to have a laugh.
In fact, I insist on it.
And if you’re going to any of the Christmas parties this year you better watch out for our boys.
Our own bash has a reputation for being creative as well as risqué.
Which means we sometimes get lap dancers to serve drinks.
Hilarious, eh? On our last team night out we all rocked up at Panacea for the last leg of a bonding session – tame in comparison to Mark Boler’s stag do, but then you can’t let rip on home turf in the same way, can you? I tell you what, there’s more silicone in there than the server farm at Net Services (what was he doing floating on AIM?).
I digress. “Wine for my men,” I roared at the waitress. “We ride at dawn!” By which time it had all kicked off.
Wayne Rooney had just slapped some other player for mithering his Doris – can’t blame him, frankly – then some bloke got his ear bitten off in a brawl, the like of which I’d not seen since Paul Beck and Brian Kennedy had a swedge outside Sale Sharks. Dangerous place this, which is a shame as the lads at Gresham had sorted us with memberships and everything.
Good lads, by the way, looks like they stole that one.
A few of the boys asked me to join them in buying my local – The Braz in Alderley Edge – don’t believe a word that Plumber tells you, he wasn’t one of our mob, not after so many of the lads lost their dosh in his Galileo float.
We don’t forget.
Looking back at our best night of the year, that special place in my liver goes to the Freddie Flintoff benefit dinner in London, where we joined my favourite racing tipster Paul Beck, otherwise known as Freddie’s Best Mate (TM). “Would you like a bottle of anything from our wine list?” asked the waiter. “No, but four Smirnoff will do nicely,” I said.
These charity auctions are a laugh.
Seeing if you can get some tool who takes himself too seriously to keep bidding when he really can’t afford it.
Just because he promised his kids he’d get them a signed England shirt.
Sorry son, but if you want to mess with the big boys you’ve got to learn to piss in the tall grass.
You can knock a lad for stuff like that but at the end of the day it’s all about doing it for sick kiddies.
The boot of my Bentley’s now got more signed Phil Neville shirts and Freddie Flintoff bats than you can shake an autographed hockey stick at. There wasn’t much room for Ian “Beefy” Botham when we bundled him into the back after the Old Trafford test.But that’s another story. Be lucky, and see you for a sherbet or two this Christmas

I love the smell of bacon in the morning.

It smells like… Virgin Trains first class breakfasts on the 06.55 from Stockport station; it’s THE place to meet the men that matter in Manchester. I was in first class (obviously) and was on the way to the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards in London.
I’d won the northern one already and, to be honest, it was a chance to see some of the hedge fund boys I know down there.
Good lads.
Stuffed if I can understand how they do it, but a 20 per cent yield is my kind of yield. I can’t be bothered with a lot of these awards dos; I just want to get on with scraping a living, like you do.
I only do enter them for the sake of the team.
It’s nothing to do with my ego.
But when you see some of these other muppets winning this and that and your team look to you to lead them, well, it’s letting the side down if you don’t.
And I am a leader of men.
It’s what I was put on this planet to do.
I’d followed some other top lads onto that stage as well, I can tell you.
Just look at who’s been up for this title in the past: Shaid Luqman of Lexi, Peter Bradley of Alta Gas, the iSoft boys; they’re all top geezers at the end of the day.
They get a bit of stick for the odd disqualification, investigation, or insolvency, but that’s the trouble with this country.
Always knocking down the successful.
Anyway, when Insider hinted that they wanted a column full of stories about my rich and successful friends I moved quicker than Danny Hall’s sprint to the stage to get his hands on the Insider’s Deal of the Year Award.
I enjoyed that do.
Went with the lads from Ford Campbell, I think.
The missus wasn’t best pleased as it clashed with the opening night of Goldplated on Channel 4.
She spent the night hiding behind the sofa (£14,000 from Arighi Bianchi, as it happens) and she’s had some stick from her mates that it’s about her and me and our chums.
As if.
Most of my mates are just down-to-earth ordinary blokes I went to school with.
Butchers, plasterers, van drivers, the highest-paid partner at Goldman Sachs, the chief executive of Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide, the founder of Capital Bank.
There I go again, name drops keep falling... So, here’s a story for you.
I last saw Tim Knowles on the train back from London.
He owns that Botany Bay building next to the M61.
I’ve known him for years and he’s a good lad.
I told Tim ages ago that all that flying around in helicopters wasn’t a good idea.
They can break down, just like a car.
But while Stratstone can at least squeeze you into a C-Class for a week or two, if the SLR needs a tune, how does a top entrepreneur get hold of a pool chopper? You can’t.
So where does that leave you? Taking the train.That’s what.