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.