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.