Monday, 1 December 2008

Desperate times call for desperate measures

Sometimes we all have to do things we don’t like: it’s called sacrifice. I’ve told all male employees to stop sending so many emails. Frankly if they’re sending out more than 20 emails a day they should put a skirt on and I’ll pay them 15 grand a year and change their job title to secretary.

I told the whole staff last month that I was knocking the Christmas party on the head to save a few quid. I blamed falling orders and a tightening credit market. I think it worked. That’s the good thing about a recession, you can really frighten people. The claims for flexible working and pay rises have mysteriously stopped. We don’t have sales guys whining to me about their bonuses. Frankly, they think they’re lucky to have a job at all.

To be honest, the works Christmas party is one do I can well do without. For a start, over the years they’ve got a bit out of hand. We’ve had resignations, pregnancies and claims for harassment. It was costing me a fortune in lawyers bills. And it’s never the fit ones that beef about a bit of groping is it?

The REAL reason is I’ve cancelled it is that I’ve lost my security bloke and I’m feeling a bit, you know, vulnerable. He’s gone into hiding after someone outed him on the internet as a member of the BNP. I had NO idea. He never said much to be honest, he just smacked anyone who came too close to me in Panacea. Thinking on, the last time he vanished he said he’d been "on business in Burnley" and came back smelling of petrol.

So, a bit of austerity never hurt anyone. Frankly, we had the Chrimbo do pencilled in for the night before I was due to take an early morning helicopter trip down to the gaff in Abersoch for “a winter barbie on the beach” at Tony “Fordy” Ford’s place.

It’s all wrapped up with him splitting up with Andy “Cambo” Campbell. As far as I’m concerned that’s two more invites to hellraising Christmas parties this year.

Sadly, the racier end of the party market seems to have gone tame. I blame that Jacqui Smith, our so-called “home secretary”, which is probably where she should spend more time, ironing shirts and answering the phone. If you didn’t see it, she reckons taking clients to lap dancing bars is “bizarre”. I’ll tell you what’s “bizarre” – she’s the one who bowls up at the Commons with her nellies bursting all over the place after all. Maybe it could be a new revenue stream for New Labour – she’s not my type, but she’s got one or two colleagues who I’d slip £20 into their G-string, no problem. In like Flint, if you catch my drift.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Wood ducks - the lot of them

These are tough times, and us fast-living, hard working entrepreneurs have begun to appreciate that some of the population are not enjoying the benefits of the capitalist system to the same extent as us.
To show what a nice guy I am, I am offering an olive branch to the locals who I upset with my resi plans. I’ve pulled the lads off site on all our RC Residential schemes in Cheshire. This has been done with the encouragement of our funders, Kaupthing Bank.
I then threw a big party in the garden of Cashman Towers for my special birthday. Mrs C got Paul Young to sing a few numbers – I think he snogged her sister round the back of the Altrincham Grammar School disco circa 1979. Mrs C even held a raffle round the council estates in Alderley and Knutsford so one lucky family could come and join in the fun on the night – well, to see the sound check and have a free can of wifebeater before the proper guests arrived.
And with tickets at £10 a pop we made a few quid. I tell you what though, these simpletons just never read the small print do they? As we were herding them out some of them tried to say they thought they were tickets to see a concert. Come on, get real. As if. It’s just what the banks have had to deal with when they started giving mortgages to the audience on Jeremy Kyle.
I’ve also invested millions to tidy the area up a bit. A mate put me on to getting a Woodland Creation Grant, which paid for a few trees – and we’ve tried to protect the locals from certain hazards. We bought the house next door, which had some land, a duck pond and a boggy field in the grounds. Obviously Mrs C was worried little kiddies could wander in and drown in the pond, or get stuck in the field, so I put a fence around it and made it clear they weren’t to enter. I was nice about it. You know me, I like a joke, but these in-breds just didn’t understand I WAS JOKING when I put up a sign saying “trespassers will be shot”.
The masterplan is to organise some community activities. Sadly, our first go backfired. Literally. A few of the lads came over for a duck shoot. I invited my MP George Osborne and a couple of Russian lads with a few quid to throw about. There we were, popping away, having a great time, feathers everywhere, before the rozzers turned up because the locals had complained. It was bedlam. But this is not about animal rights. It’s class war.
The bitter stench of envy hangs heavy in the air over Cheshire these days. The hand of peace is still outstretched. But so, friends, is my patience.

Friday, 10 October 2008

QUESTION TIME

I was in very the first Insider 42 under 42 in 1991 when I’d made my second million at Cashman Computer Leasing. And you do the maths – I was barely 22. What a performer, eh?
Unfortunately I’m out of the country, sorting out a deal in Belize, but I thought I’d treat you all to my answers to some of the questions they’ve asked the boys and girls who’ve been in this list over the years. I’m a giver after all.

Who inspires you?
He can drink, he can play cricket, he can tell a joke and he’s walked over the Alps with an elephant and a crew of spastics. And he’s recovered from leukemia – there is none to compare with Sir Beefy of Botham.

Best piece of business advice ever received?
Have chopper, will travel (Tim Knowles).

Ideal board member (dead or alive)?
I’d have to say Nicholas van Hoogstraten. He knew the golden rule of the property trade like no one else – that he who blinks first gets bummed.

Do you have a favourite politician?
Maggie Maggie Maggie – Oi Oi Oi. Mind you, I met that Caroline Flint (ex-housing minister) when Labour were in town last month. She knows sod all about the resi market, but marks out of two? I’d give her one.

Mastermind specialist subject?
Eh?

Favourite Book?
Eh?

Best lads trip ever?
The Ford Campbell golf trip to Menorca, no further comment required – tour rules apply.

What’s your claim to fame?
The Wilmslow Messenger once had a front-page story titled “Is this the most dangerous man in Cheshire?” when I returned a test drive a bit too quickly to Stratstone and scattered a few schoolies. In my defence, I was only 16 and I’ve calmed down since then. That and I introduced Freddie Flintoff to Paul Beck.

As a child what did you want to be when you grew up?
After my football career was cruelly cut short by injury (see above), business became my field of dreams.
Are there enough opportunities in the North West to satisfy your ambitions?
Depends who’s asking. If it’s the current Mrs C, then yes, of course there is darling and I’ve told the Congolese embassy they can build their own golf courses.

What’s your karaoke classic?
“Simply the Best”.

Any regrets?
My racehorse – Flash the Cash – is a gluepot on four legs. Never again.

Who’d play you in a film of your life?
This is where the muppets say Daniel Craig, but as far as I’m concerned he’s a posh kid from Chester. It’s obvious isn’t it: George Clooney is the only one with the brooding presence now Brando’s pegged it.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

GET REAL IN MALLORCA

And they say August is quiet. I bombed over to my gaff in Mallorca for most of it. Part of the making it up to Mrs C has been a new swimming pool at the house.
It’s got our family coat of arms (two Hummers, a pile of cash and a bare arse) in a mosaic. All guests have to dive to the bottom and kiss it. We’ve also got a new helipad built on the roof, which is handy when our Russian neighbours pop round for a few steaks.
It’s all gone mental over there, but for once it’s not me they’re gossiping about. This bloke who drives my Bentley Azure for me has been ferrying Paul “The Plumber” Davidson about. Or should that be “El Fontelero”? He’s got some front that bloke. One minute he’s bankrupt, but he’ll tell anyone ready to stand a round in the Admiral Rodney that he’s trousered it away. Then he’s flying about on Dave Russell’s plane and getting some Arab lads to back his new
invention that’s going to make him millions (like the last one). Next thing he’s going to buy Real Mallorca footy club.
Because I’m such a nice guy I put him in touch with my very good pal Mark Guterman, who’s told him all he knows about running a football club after his spellbinding terms in charge of Wrexham and Chester. The Penguin and the Plumber, what a double act!
The island has been going nutty for him; he’s in every paper, every day. He’s been looking around a house in Cala Llamp worth €26 million and everyone wants to buy him a drink. But if I was a betting man – and I am, as it goes – I reckon he won’t be buying it. And if I’m honest, some of his boasting and swaggering is getting a bit over the top. He’s starting to give Cheshire entrepreneurs a bad name.
So, with all that malarkey going on you wouldn’t think it was a holiday; it was like Chelford with sunshine.
Mrs C and the rest of the silicone jubblies brigade got all giddy when they heard that Alec “Craigy” Craig was in Puerto Andratx with his brood. Don’t get me wrong, Craigy’s alright for a lawyer, but I couldn’t see why they were getting their knickers in a twist. Apparently one of the dizzy bints had got lashed at the 40th of everybody’s favourite estate agent Stuart “Rushy” Rushton. She overheard someone telling the story that they’d met this bloke from Chester who’s oldest lad is that Daniel Craig, the James Bond actor bloke. The dozy cow put two and two together and came up with Craigy siring kids when he was 11 years of age. Women, unbelievable.
Anyway Rushy’s do was brilliant, shifting big houses in Mobberley isn’t as easy these days, but you’ve still got to let rip for the big one.
Someone should try telling that to the property lads. Have you seen how the invites for the golf days have dried up this year? Fair play to Hurstwood for sticking at it, but I did notice that it’s moved from the Marriott Worsley to the Rawtenstall Municipal or somewhere.
I’ve certainly never known a time like it.

Friday, 1 August 2008

I’ve had a death threat

It’s all kicked off on the Edge. And it’s my duty to put the record straight. I don’t officially live in Alderley Edge myself (it’s complicated), but obviously I have a few interests. The RC Resi Devs PLC flag is currently flying proudly over a nice little scheme overlooking the cricket club – provisionally named Cashman Towers – think a turreted cowboy ranch with a neo-Georgian twist. Or so I thought.
Standing between me and progress is a gang of geriatric bleeding hearts having a mega whinge about the improvements we’re making to THEIR village. This lynch mob gathered with their pitch forks at the Girl’s School of all places to demand my head on a plate. All because they reckon the houses being built by the new breed of Cheshire entrepreneurs, the footballers and their WAGs are too flash. Which is rubbish. Money talks and Alderley walks, and rightly so. These houses are better than the dreary dross they’re replacing. Progress, see.
Some of these designer birds responsible have got cracking taste – take that Dawn Ward (I would – fnarr), her fellah only ever played for muppet clubs like Blackburn and Bradford but it was enough to get a stiletto in the solid oak door and there’s no stopping her now. You should hear Dawn and Mrs C when they compare notes on wet-rooms, hot tubs, home cinemas and the rest. Point them at the jumps and they’re off.
But once again we see the British disease of knocking the successful, trying to tangle us up in so much red tape, intimidation and malicious envy that we lose heart. Only this time there’s been a much more sinister twist. I can’t prove it, but it’s no coincidence that I’ve had silent phone calls, potatoes shoved in the tailpipe of the Bentley and a blatant death threat.
The angry brigade blabbed to the papers that “developers had declined to take part in the debate” – and reckoned “a handful were spotted sitting quietly at the back of the hall”. But if the lunatics have taken over the asylum why put yourself in the firing line? I’ve had to get extra security on the house, you know.
The Jones boys have copped for some mither as well, but then they do pretty much own everything with a chimney round there.
But you just know that the moaners will soon have something else to grumble about. While most people are pleased that the Alderley by-pass is going ahead these Swampy types will be campaigning against it. But if you ask me, this rare display of common sense doesn’t go far enough. What about a congestion charge for London Road? That way we put the charity shops out of business, shift them all to Knutsford, and we can get on with expansion plans for more champagne bars and more nice houses. It’s time to make a stand for the real cultural values that have made Cheshire great.

I'm off to Mallorca tonight as a guest of El Plumbero - the new owner of Real Mallorca. I don't know how he does it, but he's going to be on the pitch before the friendly against West Brom.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Drilling a hole

I’ve never seen bravery like it. Most of you won’t know Tony Tighe, quiet bloke, scouser, does something to do with promotions and what not and plays a bit of golf at Mere and in Thailand. He’d spent a couple of days under the surgeon’s knife having an op that sounded gruesome.
You wouldn’t have known it when he walked through the crowd to the tune of Star Spangled Banner to deliver his chairman’s speech at the Mere Golf Club Summer Ball – everyone was there, the young lad on bail for VAT scamming, Derek “Degsy” Hatton, Chris “Purple” Ronnie, Nick Freeman (I knew him before he was famous, by the way), including some lads I’ve become friends with. Everyone who’s anyone, basically.
There’s been a bit of a changing of the guard at Mere. Mark Boler has taken over as captain, even though he’s chairman. And TT has become chairman, even though he was the best skipper the club has ever had. Ever. The main difference between the two jobs is the captain has a lad’s night and the chairman lets birds in. At first I wasn’t sure about that. Put it this way, I don’t have my best nights out with Mrs C in tow. That said, the members don’t just bring their wives or girlfriends (never both), some of them also bring their daughters. And I tell you what, more than once I was thinking, if she was my daughter, I’d still be bathing her.
Anyway, it was a proper classy do, as you can tell. TT sorted out the raffle prize, and the lucky winner was…..me! I had a weekend in Vegas, where I hadn’t been since Mark Boler’s stag do. This Doris TT knows out there had a limo waiting for me at the airport, Champagne on tap and tickets for the best shows in town. I even had a bodyguard, not that I need it, as you know I’m pretty handy when it comes on top.
It all tied in very nicely with a few developments on the business front. I’m sure you all saw the stock market announcement that we’ve had a strategic review at RC Solutions. We’re renaming it RC Oil and Gas Explorations and Solutions. The reason being the teenage scribblers at our brokers have gone all cold on IT marketing and property and they’re looking for oil. Aren’t we all, especially with diesel at £1.40 a litre. I’ve told them all about this new product we’re beta testing on an oil well site in Newfoundland. It’s so hard to get there, apparently, so they’re never going to check are they? I could have told them it was in Iraq, or Saudi, but then they’d have started asking questions about how our insurance and security costs don’t seem to have been affected.
It’s kept up the share price and, according to the lads at Insider, I’m up to 69 in the Power 100. My favourite number!

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Join the Cashman club

I take my hat off to Tony “Fordy” Ford and Arnie “Arnie” Hiri for opening the doors to a proper classy bar in Manchester. I don’t know what Ithaca means, but I like the look of the place. My favourite cop show from my favourite decade was Miami Vice and they’ve nailed the look – absolutely spot on. I was telling Fordy – with my Ray Ban shades and rolled up sleeves on my Armani jacket – that he needs to push the private members thing a bit harder. They work in London. Some say they are elitist, excluding, pretentious and aimed at people with far too much money and too little common sense. I agree. That’s why we need one in Manchester more than ever before.

As you know, I own a few shares in a few select venues around and about. Keeping out the riff raff is of paramount importance. I believe in the power of a membership – no, not Quintessential and Paint, which I accepted the free offer, by the way – but the ones that really count: Royal Westmoreland, Lancaster Grammar Old Boys, Mere Golf Club and the old funny handshake brigade.

To be fair, when you’re ITK – (that’s In The Know – muppets) you don’t need to flash a piece of black plastic to get a table at San Carlo or get a new shirt from Frank Rostron – you get what you want, and you just do what you want. I was having this discussion in the sauna with Dave Russell the other week at the Midland Hotel – we weren’t staying there or anything – we just walked in. I mean, who’s going to stop us?

I’ve got a major dilemma at the moment about this congestion charge thing. I think it’s a good idea, basically. The kind of people who it will hurt should be taking the bus anyway and leaving the roads clearer for the rest of us. I don’t know how it’s happened, but I’ve signed up for Andy “Simmo” Simpson’s campaign against it. I know Simmo from his Rothschild days when we nearly bought NES Recruitment off him, but that’s a different story and not for now. Anyway, since he joined Peel he’s stayed in touch, to be fair, and he’s been right on my case about all this road charging malarkey. I think it must have been when I was on John Whittaker’s plane coming back from Euro Cup final in Moscow, my eyes glazed over a bit, but it all seemed to make sense. Next thing my name was on some letter to the council. Anyway, holding two contradictory positions at any one time isn’t the worst thing I’ve done and it always worked for Bill Clinton.

On the political front I keep being asked if I’ve done anything to make my life greener. I haven’t and I won’t. Why should I? That said I reckon I’ve spent more weekends at my place in Abersoch this year than I have at the gaff in Majorca. Does that count?

Friday, 16 May 2008

Curse of Cashman

When Dermot Craven had his house turned over by the Special Police, reckoning he was washing dosh for the IRA, I was there in the American bar in Hale getting my round in and letting the world know it was all a load of tosh. I was there. I was by his side.

When Wrexham footy fans were scrawling paint on Mark Guterman’s house and calling him the penguin. Did I laugh at his misfortune? Well, just a bit, but I was there. I was by his side.

When Sale Sharks owner Brian Kennedy knocked Paul Beck to the ground, did I walk away, avoid BK’s steely glance and deny my friend? No, I did not. As Jehova is my witness, I picked Becky up and told him the truth; he nearly had BK on the ropes. I was there. I was by his side.

When they wanted to cancel Tommy McGoldrick’s membership of Mere Golf Club on the technicality that he’s been banged up in Strangeways for 10 years, who was the sole voice of tolerance for a good old boy? Who stood by a brief that stood his round on Captain’s Day more times than I care to remember? I did. I was by his side.

Which all brings me round to what’s happening to Mike Hanlon at the moment. Mike’s a top lad, looks a bit like Austin Powers – and he’s been no end of mither with the relic hugging so-called “heritage” lobby in the Capital of Culture. Some of Mike’s lads got a bit carried away with the sledgehammers and knocked out a few old bricks or something, I’m sketchy on the details. The council gave him the wink, but some local tourist guide got a bit uppity.

He sent the boy Hanlon a snotty email, calling him a disgrace and worse. Mike, quite rightly, told this herbert to stick his opinions in a nicely-worded reply, but of course this is and the emails concerned were soon all over the local rag. Where are cities going to be if they scare off developers who are prepared to take a risk and stick their balls on the line? What do you want, muppets? A city of the future, or a museum?

Anyway, I emailed Mike to tell him I’m there for him. I’m by his side, just like I have been for all these other lads. And do you know what he said? “Get stuffed, Roger, you’re a bloody curse.”

Friday, 18 April 2008

Life as a spoof


Like most business people I don't see some magazine called EN. Never heard of it. Anyway, apparently I'm in it (see left). They reckon my life is a spoof. I tell you what mate, I wish it was sometimes, I wish it was.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Back home

Well that didn’t last long. I tried Monaco for about two months and I was bored out of my mind. The casinos might be rammed full of the beautiful people from Eastern Europe but give me a proper night out at Players in Hale Barns any day of the week.

I’ve patched it up with Mrs C as well. Which is a relief, we had a proper sit down and cleared the air.

I promised to stop dipping my pen in the company ink. She told me if I even thought about such dalliances again she’d super glue my pecker to my upper thigh. I think she means it as well. I like a deal like that: win, win.

Between me, you and the gatepost I think she saw what divorce did to her old school pal Heather Mills, when she was ranting like a lunatic on the Six O Clock news having got a great deal less than the £125million she hoped for. Frankly, she never had a leg to stand on.

Back in blighty, I’m diversifying like there’s no tomorrow. The whole interweb stuff is looking after itself, especially with all the spam email we’re churning out. The ads for blue pills and “male enhancement” are going down a storm, we’re getting a 0.00001 per cent return rate, which given the amount we churn out is an unbelievable performance.

We had to sell off the clever techy stuff. Made a killing on that, started getting bad vibes about the back office, systems solutions architecture gubbins we were going to do with Northern Rock, so we sold it to these semi-autistic techies from Leeds that didn’t ask the right questions about our “vendor due diligence”. Not my problem now.

I had a lucky escape over all that business with the Nintendo Wii’s we found when that boat beached off Dorset. I had them in a lock up in Oldham and shifted most of them, but this bloke who worked for me (not me) took everyone’s money even when we’d run out of stock. I tell you honestly, I’m the victim here too.

Remember those banks that used to fall over themselves to lend to me? All gone. All of them. I’ve even been turned down by the Icelandics. How bad is that? In fact, the last thing Kaupthing did before they cut the phones off in their Manchester office was to say “Nei” to my scheme at Media City for a themed hotel. It was going to be a recreation of Upper Street in Islington, as part of the attraction for all the BBC types: estate agents, art galleries, caf├ęs and Albanian beggars. Surely there’s a few boys out there who think it’s worth a cheeky half mill?

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

The pain of D.I.V.O.R.C.E

Since the missus booted me out I’ve been overwhelmed with the support from my legions of mates. I tell you what, you can’t buy friends like that. Well, you can, but you know what I mean. Mark Guterman phones me every day. What a lad. Big lad, big heart.

Paul Beck has helped me take my mind off it all with some boss helicopter trips. We’re all bombing down to Cannes for that MIPIM thing. Apart from anything else we need to see how the public sector bods are spending our council tax on Russian brasses.

Me and Becky are doing a stormer on these sporting dinners. We’ve got a big one coming up for the Bolton promotion winning team of 1978, Peter “Reidy” Reid, Franky “Oh Franky” Worthington and Brian “Kiddo” Kidd. As long as we can get Frank to get his tackle out, we should have a great night. After that we’ve got an evening with David “Maysie” May as part of our “legends” series.

I’m gutted about the Supercasino getting torpedoed. RC Solutions had the contract in the bag for all the, er, solutions and systems stuff. We’re thinking we might have to get together with the council and come up with a better idea. Some of the lads are already talking about a Super Knocking Shop, but you’ll have the Millie Tant brigade up in arms.

If things look like I’m being taken to the cleaners on the old D.I.V.O.R.C.E, then there will be a wholesale emptying of bank vaults in the Isle of Man and a lot of very happy sick little kiddies benefiting from my generosity. We all know that kids touch the heart strings, and I’d rather they had it than that greedy cow.

All her mates down at the golf club have been turning her head with tales of how much she’s going to take me for. Luckily for me, not so for her, I use Pannones for getting me out of scrapes with the VAT, so I told her she couldn’t use those lovely ladies. She’s currently talking to that lot who advertise with the picture of the Porsche with the WAS HIS number plate. Outrageous.

You won’t believe what she’s going for. She even believes my rich list entry. This new brief has told her she can have a pop at my future earnings. What future? Since President Brown started nationalising the banks and frightening off the gamblers there isn’t a future for this country.

I better keem schtum on some of the things we’re going to hit her with when it comes to court, but we’ve been adding up what she might be able to invoice the Daily Sport for if she was to get out the new pair of funbags I bought for her at Transform.

The alternative, of course, is going round there with a red rose between my teeth and my cheeky smile. It’s worked before. Maybe it’s worth another try.

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Out on my arse

It doesn’t rain, it pours and I’m not just talking about the weather. No sooner was I back from Barbados that I found some scrotes had attacked my house. Windows smashed, garage doors like an explosion in a paint factory. Thank Christ the Hummer wasn’t out front. Frankly, Alderley’s not seen anything like this since the Hamas branch of the United supporters club popped round to Rio’s gaff to politely ask if holding out for an ivory backscratcher and a helicopter to training wasn’t a tad excessive.

Problems on the home front as well. Mrs Cashman has changed the locks and is looking to become Mrs half-my-cashwoman. It’s all come from laying off the au pair, following a bit of financial restructuring. Mrs C for once in her life took it upon herself to take a few of my suits down to the dry-cleaners and wallop, mayhem. I told her the Cheshire Companions gold card wasn’t mine but she wasn’t having any of it. If this one goes all the way to court it could cost me big time.

If it weren’t for the tax-crazy President Brown and his Jocko pal, that one with the eyebrows, I’d say that it might be time to start cashing in on a few ventures. I’m weighing up a tactical move to Monaco. Alan “Murph” Murphy – a top man incidentally – and a few of the boys have been out there for years now as an advance party. Frankly, it’d be a relief to work in an environment where there’s less nose-poking and more respect for the entrepreneur.

I’ve considered packing up and heading for the Land of the Free before now, but it looks like they might be taking leave of their senses again by sticking Slick Willy Clinton’s Doris in the Oval Office – so to speak.

The Yanks have got it right, apart from Tom “Hicksy” Hicksy and his pal George Gillett, owners of Liverpool FC, who are finding out what a touchy lot the Scousers can be. Mexicans and Puerto Ricans for a taco an hour, that’s the US way, and not a complaint from anyone. Rafa Benitez even seems to have even found room for a couple in the first team, which is good of him.

Give Hicksy his due, he said he’d pull off the refinancing of the club and he has. Wish I had his bankers - every bank in town seems to have forgotten what a track record is and I’ve frankly had enough. It’s off to the Riviera to call a few old favours in and get back on track. I’m a winner and in the end, I’ll win. My favourite film tells us that “What we achieve in life echoes in eternity”. Couldn’t have put it better myself.

Friday, 4 January 2008

Sacked on Facebook

I told you things were going to get tough this year. You won’t believe who’s been signing the visitors book at Begbies Traynor. And I blame the banks, frankly. And the “wine bar” developers who’ve been paying silly money for sites (with a h).

Our property development arm RC (property) Solutions (2006) has gone into administration. We had no choice really once the bank told us they wanted their money back. We’d sorted this monster scheme in Northwich – shops, offices, a bit of resi in there – but the subcontractors were overrunning on the costs – all the Poles are serving sausages at the Christmas market - and Mike Connett has basically cornered the market in that part of mid-Cheshire.

It meant we had to lay off a load of staff, but the good news is because we ringfenced the one company and loaded it with all sorts of other liabilities we didn’t have to pay anything more than the bare minimum of redundo pay. I thought it would be a bit retro to sack them by text, so I poked them on Facebook instead. It was mayhem when they found out so I left my Hummer in the garage that day in case it got smashed up. To be fair, we gave the staff a few shopping days notice so they could take back all their kiddies Christmas presents.

So, that was all a bit of a nightmare for me and so to cheer myself up I bought a place at Royal Westmoreland on Barbados off John “the farmer” Morphet. We’re very much looking forward to asking him what he thinks now that his old caravan parks business has just been sold for even more money. He used to say he’d done the deal of the century. Maybe not, John.

I’ve never been a believer in the value of humility. And neither, clearly, does my old mate Paul “the Plumber” Davidson, who is once again regaling the diners of Manchester and Cheshire with his grand plans. He might dress like a striking miner, but every time I’ve seen him lately he’s had a carrier bag full of £50 notes on him. At first I thought he must have become Mickey Thomas’s new best mate, but he picked up the tab for me and Mark Guterman when we were having a bit of nosebag in the Alderley Bar and Grill. A couple of days later I was on the train to London and he paid for my ticket. In cash. Top bloke, always liked him.

On the leisure side I’ve been enjoying the shooting. Bagged a few grouse and a brace of rabbits on a shooting trip to the Trough of Bowland with Richard Topliss from the Royal Bank of Scotland and a few of the boys. The next trip out was a bit marred when one of the lads found a dead body in the woods. He marked that down on the card as “various”, but it shouldn’t really count, to be fair.