Sunday, 29 November 2009

Twitter tales

I’m an early adopter. Gadgets, technology, new enterprise markets. You got ‘em, I’m in ‘em. I had a car fax in 1988, back when my first mobile phone was bigger than a housebrick and premium rate phone numbers were a licence to steal money. Oh happy days. We used to send out these black faxes to anyone we could find. To cancel them they had to phone or fax our premium rate number. We were raking it in. This was before all this red tape that stopped entrepreneurs like me from raising money from the pathologically stupid.

I’m now on Twitter (@rogercashman). It took me a while to work out the point of it, but it has huge spamming potential. Everyone who follows you can see everyone else who follows you. And you can send people messages letting them know what you think.

I told Stephen Fry he was boring – which he is – that got me a load more followers, but it nearly sent him back to the nuthouse.

Its use was rammed home at this techie conference in Manchester. Basically you can sit there and text in your opinion. Some guy called Alain de Bottom was beamed in by video link (memo to self, must get one for the games room at Cashman Towers). He prattled on about the future of work – sorry pal, writingbooks and talking is not work, so I told him: jog on, baldy. He then sends me a message asking what I’d done to offend him.

Now, at this point I’d already bailed out and taken a little posse up to Panacea for a Friday livener. Lord Tom Bloxham, who I used to think of as a friend, tells de Bottom he shouldn’t take any notice of me, because I’m a “made up character”. Outrageous. At least I don’t wear a hat.

Mrs C, a follower, not a leader, then gets on the Twitter bandwagon and notices that most of the people I follow are beautiful women – can’t win can I? I get called a “lecherous sexist pig” for taking an interest in professional women, and all this in the week when I’m up before an industrial tribunal for running a “macho culture” on the sales floor at RC Faxback Solutions. She then clocked that I was following someone by the name of Cheshire Escorts (whatever that is).

I swear I thought it was a Ford Dealer in Nantwich. Now she thinks I’ve been “at it” again and it’s going to cost me a fortune. Being accused of using high-class brass, I can deal with. But you know what they say, the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. Think about it.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Blood brothers

My business partner Rick Chalmers is the opposite of me. He’s so shy and retiring I bet you didn’t even know he exists. He says he likes to keep a lower profile than me. Think of us as the Morecambe and Wise of business. Or the George Michael and Andrew Ridgely, not that I’m “good with colours”, but then neither is he. Rick lets me do all the deals, all the work and I let him take his salary and dividends and he kind of chairs the odd meeting and deals with the back office day to day detail. My job is to look after the blue sky vision and business development. Don’t get me wrong, he’s had a part to play over the years, and he sort of started RC Solutions while I was on gardening leave from The Accident Group.

Sometimes you’ve got to act quick in business. Over the summer, there I was holding the whole thing together, opening his mail for him and he’s had this Internet junk mail outfit in Oldham asking for help after they’ve been shut down by trading standards again. They were about to go into administration so I picked it up, polished it off and parked it in this unit in one of Bashar Issa’s buildings near Piccadilly – not the one that had the fire, I’m not that squeaky. I’d bought it for cash, signed a PG on the debt and assigned it to Cashman Solutions (IOM) 2009, which is actually in the wife’s name.

Rick was off at his place in Tuscany – can’t see the point myself – no beach, no clubs, no golf, he just says he goes to read books and stuff. Some of them are even in Italian, which is frankly just borderline odd. You can understand that when he’s off with the fairies on crap like that I’ve got to grab deals when I can.

So there I was at Chester Races for the Summer do and he’s going right off on one, put me right off my punting. He’s even talking divorce, but we sat down, worked out how things were going to work in the future and it looks like we’re going to have to stick it out.

Just to show him I’m reasonable I’ve given him 2 per cent share and an option to buy the rest off me if we float it. Can’t say fairer than that can you?

I am a man of honour, despite what you may have heard to the contrary. What would it say about me and my reputation if I fell out with my best mate over something as trivial as taking a stealing a deal from under his nose?

Friday, 2 October 2009

Fordy and the Bongo man

I love Tony "Fordy" Ford. What a guy. He's now brought over masseuse to the stars, Bongo Man, who's left the beaches of Barbados behind and arrived in the North West to bring a little Barbados sunshine into the lives of those with life-threatening illness.

Bongo Man, who has worked on the beach at the Caribbean island’s most exclusive resort – Sandy Lane – for 17 years, is a guest of Fordy - entrepreneur and a top man who does loads for charity.

During his stay, Bongo Man will visit local hospices including St Ann’s Hospice where he will meet with staff and day-care patients and learn more about the specialist massage the hospice provides.

He will also be putting his services up for auction at a number of events to help raise money for charity, including the annual St Ann’s Hospice Ladies Fashion Lunch on October 2, and the EN Magazine Entrepreneur of the Year Awards (my kind of dinner).

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Pre-pack to Jet Pack - hear my story

Me and my new best mate Imran Hakim got invited to see some Americans talking the other day. Seriously, people pay money for this. We didn’t pay, obviously, but the taxpayer did. I do like the NWDA, even though sound like they should be a rap band. Maybe they are?

Anyway, back to these speakers. One was old, had a beard and talked about emotions, or something like that (we’ll call him Beardie). But he talked ALL MORNING.

The other had mad hair (I’m going to call him Mad Hair from now on), has written a few books that everyone was raving about and he talked ALL AFTERNOON. I had a peek at one of his books in the lunch break – he’s no Andy McNab, but there’s clearly a big market in sweaty middle managers on the verge of a major nervous breakdown, looking for someone to tell them how to get on in life.

Mad Hair was good. He talked about Fleetwood Mac, always liked that Stevie Nicks. So, Mad Hair reckons he told a few New York hedge fund boys (probably know them) about the optimum wealth levels for being a good parent. I have this row with Mrs C all the time. Obviously raising your brats in the slums of Calcutta (or Stockport, or somewhere) is just lining them up for a life sentence of misery. Spoiling them rotten means they don’t work hard enough. He had my full attention for that until he said the perfect level was a measly £75K a year. How can we pay for school fees, pony club, the house in Abersoch and a driver on standby on that? He meant £75K in income per family. Fantastic. What a wind up. He had me going for a minute, but as the Yanks don’t get irony I’m not so sure. The hedge fund lads certainly won’t like some punk rocker taking the piss out of them.

He then told a few stories about history and success and war and how overconfidence was what did it for Lehman Brothers. He lost me half way through, but everyone else seemed to like it. Now either this is the worst case of the “Emporer’s New Clothes”, or it’s just money for old rope. You had 500 punters coughing a grand apiece to listen to this, or at least the NWA paying for them. Take out marketing costs, room hire and printing and I reckon Beardie and Mad Hair must have cleared £100K each. I’m having some of this.

Next year I reckon me and Imran could do even better. He can talk about Dragon’s Den and toys and stuff. I’ll copy a few chunks out of Art of War, use a few of Chubby Brown’s best gags, then tell everyone how I bounced back from the worst recession since the market correction of 2002. The science of my success was that toxic alchemy of cunning, intelligence and my ten point guide to loopholes in the Enterprise Act. I’ll call it From Pre-Pack to Jet Pack. You’d come wouldn’t you?

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Bloody students

I’m an educated man. I graduated with honours from the University of Life. The sponging student life was not for me, but now I’ve had my eyes opened to the land of opportunity that awaits in student land. And I’m not just talking about the number of times I mutter “would” when you wander about.

I’ve been putting in some time at the seats of learning, ready to check out what’s going on with start-ups with innovative “solutions” and stuff.

Since I went on Dragons’ Den (well, the screen test), I've been asked back to sit and judge these professor types with the "next best thing". I got collared to go on one with Scott “Fletch” Fletcher and Imran “Imran” Hakim, which frankly makes the whole thing feel like taking candy from a baby.

Most of these techie kids have no idea how to present the idea; there’s just no commercial nous whatsoever. You try going into some of the City boardrooms where I’ve walked the walk; start stuttering and muttering and your arse is history. That’s why they need someone who can talk the talk and command a room to be by their side. Do you see where I’m going with this?

On the face of it, it might seem a bit boring to be hanging around incubator buildings at universities, but I’ve always said, you reap what you sow, unless you’re talking about farming grants. And let’s face it, just how much of my and your hard-earned tax is going to
“knowledge economy” guff that no one understands? You may as well fill your boots and take what’s rightfully yours.

I’ve got to say I’ve forged a real bond with some of my students, or if it doesn’t sound too arrogant, followers. Their attention is grabbed from the moment they hear the Hummer crunching over the gravel.

The students are fine, especially the ones with big debts, they’ll do anything to get on my good side. And I mean anything.

No, it’s these boffins I worry about. They have half an idea and think some “product development” and “marketing channel research” will make them rich. No it won’t. What they need is a 50-seater sales floor with coke-crazed sales boys on commission-only trying to flog the thing as if their lives depended on it. It’s always worked for me.

Friday, 3 July 2009

WHY I’M STANDING AGAINST HAZEL BLEARS

There’s been a lot of tosh talked about MPs filling their boots on expenses and frankly it’s gone too far. Joe Public’s had enough of public servants sticking their snouts in the trough and filling their flats with John Lewis sofas paid for by you and me – the humble taxpayer.

But as my old man Don “the Don” Cashman always told me, somebody ballsing up means there’s an opportunity for somebody else. In short – it’s time for guys like yours truly to get involved. Integrity, charisma and the ability to get things done – I don’t think I’m overstating my credentials here. And with Alan Sugar (unlike his muppet contestants and that Doris from Birmingham City I’m an old pal and don’t have to call him Sir) now installed as the business tsar the wealth creators of this country might finally start getting the recognition we deserve – and about time.

But you only get one shot at this sort of thing so it’s crucial you get it right. The first question is, where do you stand? Obviously Tatton would be handy, but although I could count on the votes of the boys at Mere Golf Club and all the Alderley lot, but they've actually taken to George Osborne to be fair. People like the toffs when they're a bit thick, it's the funny ones that rub you up the wrong way.

I did quite fancy having a tilt at that Ruth Kelly bird, the religious one who whips herself, she knocked back Steve “Stevo” Parry’s plans to flatten New Brighton and replace it with something decent, whcih was bang out of order. But she’s standing down now anyway and I don’t fancy going up against Susan Williams, a woman who has something of the mighty Maggie about her (get well soon by the way Mrs T). Plus, Bolton? Come on!

You’ve got to target the ones that have really pissed the voters off. I can exclusively reveal here that I’ll be mounting a challenge against Hazel Blears, that little one who looks a bit like Gordon Strachan. I will crush her like a bug. She is toast. Cashman is coming. I have my own place in Salford - the top floor suite at the Lowry is virtually a main residence - but I won't be claiming for it - and we will run the whole thing from the corner booth at San Carlo should I ever need to actually stay there during the day. Frankly, I can only see one winner, but as this is a democracy, here’s what can I promise the people of Salford.

Compassion – I’ve raised literally hundreds of pounds for sick kids down the years, I almost had my own parking spot at Francis House at one point. It’s not something I play on though.

Vision – Under my leadership, Salford would win unprecedented global exposure through twinning arrangements. I’ve already made headway with partners in Douglas, Lagos and one of the Chinese places the Scousers haven’t worked out how to get to.

Integrity – they can try as much as they want to dig dirt, but I’ve never yet had a complaint upheld against me by the Insolvency Service, HM Revenue & Customs, the Race Relations Board or even the European Court of Human Rights. How many people can say that?

I will win here. Like I did when I beat all these lot. I'm a fighter, not a quitter.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

My friend Ian Griffin - the truth

This blog entry has been removed for legal reasons.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

God Save The Queen

Mrs C has been getting twitchy again. She’s seen some of her mates hit rock bottom and needs to keep me on my toes. One of them is even driving an Audi estate, which is a big comedown from a Range Rover and an Aston Martin DB9, but that’s property for you.

Her botox and plastic norks clinic will scrape by, but the resi property stuff is rubbish. It’s probably going to lose us £50K this year. But I reckon if she didn’t have so much to do she’d only end up spending double that much at Hoopers.

Now she says she needs some more “substance” in her life – and she doesn’t mean the kind she used to shovel up her nose when I first met her and she was shaking her bits at the Purple Door in Yesterdays in Alderley.

She set me a target – and I love targets, I’m a winner – to meet royalty. She wasn’t impressed with getting an invite to the new shopping centre in Liverpool, even though “His dis-Grace” the Duke of Westminster was going to be cutting the ribbon on the Capital of Culture’s new “Peasant Crescent”.

My next route was to join this mob called Business in the Community - basically, it's the icing on the shit. Pay up and everyone says what a great guy you are. I went to an unbelievably boring day of speeches last year and signed a few forms pledging to cut our carbon footprint – it’s alright, no-one checks – and then we got invited to go to old Charlie Big Ears gaff down south.

You’ve never seen sharp elbows like it. All these mad witches falling over themselves in an orgy of brown nosing and I’ve never seen anyone look so bored in his life. She was trying to tell him he had an “exquisite garden” – like he doesn’t know that already and all he wanted to do was go on about the polar bears.

She was well happy for a bit and all was good, but rather than thanking me, she wanted more. That’s why I got a ticket for Queen’s last trip to these parts. We got offered slots in the welcome committee for her trip to Warburtons off Jonathan “Warbie” Warburton, but I thought we’d get more “quality time” at her visit to Leigh Sports Village. To cut a long story short, I don’t know if it was something I said, or Mrs C said, or maybe Lord Peter Smith went on a bit about Wigan, or congestion charging or whatever, but the poor old dear nodded off. I didn’t know where to look. Even Mrs C was lost for words and she realises she’s probably been too pushy on the social climbing scales even by her standards.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

No good deed goes unpunished

I will never, ever, ever agree to going on television again. And I will never, ever, ever agree to helping people who are poor and “deserving of a chance”. Frankly they’re in the cesspool of their own misery for a reason and there’s nothing that can be done.

You will see me on the Channel 4 programme Secret Millionaire in a few weeks and be able to draw your own conclusions, but before you do I just want to set the record straight. I was asked to go to the Stoops estate in Burnley. On my first day I saw a banner on the railings by the bridge – “Happy 30th birthday – Nana”. I promised to put some money on the table and encourage local enterprise. They asked me to pretend to be a social worker, which is harder than you’d think. Tactfully, I left the Ferrari at home – and what a good job. The Hummer got keyed and one of the locals tried to crowbar the family crest off one of the wheels.

Everyone complained about debt problems, so I decided to do a bit of undercover work of my own. The problem was there was no money since Cattles had been run out of town and the IVA boys had got their wings clipped. So I set up two local lads in a business providing “flexible finance solutions”. I didn’t think it was fair to mention this to the producers because it was a sideline.

At the community centre everyone was saying they were bored with no money, especially the single mums. Lightbulb time. With some lighting and plenty of make up, some scrubbed up alright. I offered to make Thursday nights at the centre into Peppermint Hippos, local talent night, if you like.

That’s when it kicked off. I was accused of being a pimp, drug dealer and a loan shark. All true, except for the drug thing – that was just the car. Thing is, I never agreed to that being on the programme. I’ve never seen a mob like it; they obviously don’t have pitchforks and torches in Burnley, just petrol bombs and hammers. One of the lads had to get me out with his helicopter landing on the roof.

So I’m done. I have one final brush with TV people up my sleeve – a “drink off” between Ricky Hatton and Freddie Flintoff. It starts in Players Bar at the Four Seasons at the end of September. Freddie has to pocket his dough from the Indians and duff up the Windies. Ricky needs a lift after he got battered in Vegas. Frankly, the last time someone got that badly beaten around the ring they ended up face down in Michael Barrymore's pool.

Friday, 3 April 2009

What sport tells us about life

Sometimes I despair at the lack of ambition of the so-called entrepreneurial classes of the golden triangle – Alderley, Knutsford and Wythenshawe. Once you could breeze into the Alderley Bar and Grill on a Friday night and have a deal done by closing time. Now everyone is claiming to be skint – the only people ready to have a punt are the gangsters and footballers.
Gangsters are alright as long as you keep the bubbly flowing, but even I get a bit uneasy about their “bad debt provisions”.
My old man Don “The Don” Cashman was in the QSG and taught me everything I needed to know about credit control when he bundled Jonny Fingers into the boot of his Roller in 1977.
Footballers on the other hand are very open to new ideas and “alternative investment classes”. Some of them stumped up for a salvage ship I hired to get hold of this sunken treasure in the North Sea. It wasn’t the best deal we’ve ever done, but you get Frank McAvennie (Celtic, West Ham and Scotland) on the subject in San Carlo and everyone’s in stitches.
You’ve got to be careful, though; they do take things literally. I was telling Rio Ferdinand (West Ham, Man U and England) how me and (the third) Mrs Cashman got hitched and had these two elephants deliver the rings. He then only goes and gets some owls for his do. Why?
I’m about to slot myself into this deal with David “Tommo” Thompson (England u21, Liverpool, Blackburn, Wigan, etc etc) on a very sweet little deal. He’s the shop steward for the
football lads and they’re all piling into this little fund to buy successful growth businesses. Obviously they need a bit of technical knowledge, and I reckon a two per cent finders fee, some rollover equity and a management contract for RC (Footballer Investment) Trust (IOM 2008) LLP is a very useful contribution of my time and effort.
We’ve got this investment opportunity for a coffee plantation in Costa Rica, an IT company in Manchester (guess who?) and a new private security firm to keep an eye on the footballers’ houses (and the WAGs) when they’re away on European duty. I think we’re on to a winner there. And we’ve all been promised tickets for Wembley.
I feel very proud of my contribution to the financial success of these sporting heroes. Indeed, I regard it as a public service to protect them from the army of hangers-on offering self-serving, badly timed advice.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

With friends like these

I get all sorts ringing me and getting on my case when they’ve seen me here. But when you are featured in the biggest selling newspaper in Britain, two weeks out of three, the phone goes mental and I get stopped in the street even more than usual. And then when your wife pops up in the local rag, then I start to know what it feels like to be Jade Goody, but without the cancer, obviously.

First off, I’ve never made a secret of the fact that RC Textiles Solutions supplies some of the top High Street chains. For some reason they won’t let me say anything about it. I’ve got this lad who runs it – one of the Indian rag trade boys - I tell you what you know, he’s a good guy. He’s given loads of these women a job. The paper was on about it being a sweat shop, that these women were “slaves”. It’s all rubbish. Number one, they don’t pay tax; two, they claim dole and all the rest of it. By the time we’ve given them some free clothes and a few quid they’re better off than if we did it legal and paid them the minimum wage.

As if the News of the Screws hadn’t had enough of me they then had me bang to rights on the Lloyds Bank ski trip to St Anton as “ordering drinks”, “dancing on tables” and “heading off to a night club”. So what? What do you think we go on ski trips paid for by banks for? The skiing? The food? It’s Austria for fuck's sake; so you get on the lash. I actually can’t believe how tame it was this year. All these lads from the bank are like rabbits in headlights, you tell them to get a round in and they have to call Alistair Darling.

To cap a bad month on the publicity front Mrs C only goes and gets herself in the Wilmslow Bugle. She’s bought this clinic out of administration which does “modern hi-tech beauty treatments”. Tit jobs and botox to me and you.

Now, the reaction to all of this sums up what my so-called friends are like.

When the News of the World came calling Tony Tighe was straight on to me pledging to put my side of the story. Luckily the Indian lad copped most of it because I was away skiing.

Every freeloading lawyer and corporate finance jockey in town knew that the ski sting was just bad luck. By the grace of Roger, eh lads?

But nobody gave the old girl a smidgen of credit for joining the ranks of the Cheshire entrepreneurs. Oh no, just tired gag after tired gag accusing me (me!) of being behind it and asking if they could get a discount on some placcy bangers and a shot of botox for her indoors.

With friends like these, eh?

Thursday, 5 February 2009

I'm buying Nigeria - here's how

I’ve been told to make this column uplifting. Readers don’t want to hear about doom and gloom, they want to hear tales of daring and adventure.

Well, to be fair, I don’t know where to start. I’m doing great, thank you very much.
And things are going to get even better this year. For me, anyway. I’m just about to pull off the deal of the century. Remember where you heard it first.

This doris called Kristen Heather – I think I met her at some charity do at the Sheridan Suite – and if I remember rightly she was wearing this red dress that revealed… (Get on with it – editor).

It started on the first day back after New Year, when I’d just got back from Val d'isere. I got this email marked “private”. Everyone likes one of these. The secretary leaves them for me to deal with so I don’t get mithered by all the muppets chasing unpaid invoices and begging letters from corporate financiers who haven’t done a deal in six months.

This lad at the Kristen Heather Investment Bank in the Isle of Man must have heard that I’m a bit of an international wheeler dealer and all-round entrepreneurial guru and asked for a bit of help. They don’t send these letters to anyone, you know. Anyway, they’ve managed to get this grant from some European fund to back this consortium of Russkis who are banged up in some Gulag in Siberia for backing the wrong side in the last scrap over there.

They’ve got about £2bn in a bank in the Isle of Man and need me to set up a facility to get their hands on it. Basically I get a 10 per cent fee. I love a win-win deal like this, and I’m always keen to keep the wheels of international finance oiled. All they need is a few grand to get in motion – the usual “performance bond”, which is normal in cases like this, and we’re on our way.

So, in the spirit of spreading my joy around, once the cash clears I’ve already got my eye on one of those Bombardier Global Express XRS jets and a new Ferrari 599, just like the one Cristiano Ronaldo pranged in the tunnel on Altrincham Road (the wall was never ten yards away – boom boom). I also quite fancy one of those islands in that resort in Dubai that’s shaped like a map of the world. Trouble is, where would you buy? Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have already bought Ethiopia, which is mental, and some Russian has bought Iceland.

I mentioned all this in the email to the lad who’s setting it all up for me. He said I should buy Nigeria. Strange choice.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

On the straight and narrow

Right, time to put the record straight. These rumours have started getting back to me and I need to be clear. I did not have a scrap with the doorman from Ithaca. And I did not get so drunk I forgot where I live and had to spend the night in a police station after a taxi driver dropped me off in Denton. None of that happened.
I am not being investigated by the Horse Racing Board for betting against the glue pot on four legs I happen to own. I have backed it to lose on Betfair, but that’s hardly inside information is it? It couldn’t win the donkey derby on Blackpool beach.
Back to work, we’ve started the new year on a bit of a high. On the QT, last year we started doing some systems solution work for some government department or other – I’m boring myself, so I’ll spare you the details. Now the government has cut payment terms to a week, we have been able to hang on to more of our cash and extend our own terms to suppliers for six months.
They’re so desperate they don’t even complain! Brilliant. Only problem is we haven’t found a decent deposit rate since the Russian mafia pulled the plug on that nice little laundrette they were running out of Iceland.
It’s absolutely disgraceful that the government won’t guarantee all deposit rates at the same rate we used to enjoy and guarantee 10 per cent rates in the Isle of Man as well. I worked hard for that money and deserve to see it grow. Do you think I actually like going to the Isle of Man to see my fund manager? Did you know they smother their chips with cheese? My part of the solutions industry is also facing unfair competition from China and the French and we need a ban on foreign imports. Today. I’ve risked everything on my schemes to export our gear to Burma and Laos, but the level of export credits we get is miserable. We need more. It’s also essential that they completely abolish tax rates for entrepreneurs. Don’t they understand how tough it is out there?
I told all this to that bloke John Young from the Bank of England who came to see me the other day. He uses what I say to tell Gordon Brown what to do with the economy. It got a bit technical so I had to get my FD in when he asked me if I thought the PBR would affect the LIBOR and the FTSE, or something. Sorry mate, I said, ask me one on sport.
Poor bloke, I let him have it with both barrels. I don’t think he knew what hit him. The long and short of it: the biggest problem with this country is scroungers always looking for handouts.