A saga of everyday life in the Big L and a wry look at contemporary culture
By Tony Carden
Episode Twenty Four
‘Ha! Gotcha!’ Dancy turned just as Rocco caught hold of his arm. Rocco, what are you doing here?
‘I’d no idea you were in the office.’ What does he want?
‘Yah gotta read your emails more, Dancy boy.’ He put an arm around him and led him towards a meeting room. ‘We’ve got some catching up to do.’
‘Do you mean the trade? I think that’s sorted.’ I got a bit of flack for it, you know.
‘Hey kid, see I told yah it would be fine.’ I suppose so, but it cost me. He was led into the room. Rocco closed the door. ‘Everything’s a buzzing don’t yah think?’
‘Well business is good. The markets are holding up.’ He smiled at Rocco. ‘I heard there’s more money coming from Abu Dhabi in a couple of weeks.’ You certainly can bring the money in, can’t you?
‘That’s what I wantta talk to you about.’ Uh?
‘You’re passing it to me?’
‘You can do it, Dancy boy. I’ve been impressed with how you pulled off that business with the trade. Quite the Jersey slide. I didn’t have ta do nuttin’ on it. You’re learning kiddo.’ Do you know how much time I spent on sorting out that trade with Herb? Quinn was not pleased when I had to tell her I’d be working late on Friday to resolve the problem.
Rocco smiled and gestured. ‘Grab a pushchair.’ He seated himself and leaned back.
‘You’re not asking me to go to the Middle East, are you?’ Just what I need when we’ve been asked by Quinn’s father to go down to his place for the weekend.
‘Nah. Got that all sorted.’ He leaned forward. ‘The A-rabs are opening up to us. Do yah know what that means?’
‘No, can’t say I do.’
‘Money, baby, money. Think of the fees. A billion is coming!’ He chuckled. If we’re getting 2-20 on this. Dancy did some maths. Wow!
‘We’ll be shifting into big time. That’s fantastic.’
‘Yeah, Georgy Soros, shift over.’ He leaned back. ‘How’s their fund doing?’
‘Middling. I guess this quarter we’ll just level with the S&P500.’
Rocco shot upright. ‘Shit, Dancy, how’d that happen?’
‘The model. It told us to reduce our exposure, so we did. But the markets shot up.’
‘Mi fa cagare! I told you to not sell unless I said so.’
‘The committee insisted everyone reduce their positions. No exceptions.’
‘I don’t believe this.’ He pounded the table. ‘I should have been consulted.’
‘It’s not too bad, Rocco. We’re back in and recovering well. We screwed those guys who were shorting Tesla. And we called Apple right.’
‘Jeez. Here I’m busting a gut getting the money in and London f**ks it up. The Dhabi guys are our best lead for more Middle East money. They think we’re magic.’ He slammed his fist on the table. ‘You’re screwing it all up!’
‘We’re doing our best.’ If we’re not using our models, what are we doing? We should be backing our analysis, surely?
‘It ain’t good enough.’ Rocco dropped his voice to a whisper. ‘Dancy, me boy, there’s a favour I gotta ask you.’
‘Rocco, you know I’m always happy to help.’
‘Well, see, we gotta give the A-rabs the best returns this quarter.’ What? That’s impossible.
‘I can’t do it. We’ll be lucky if we’re even.’
‘Now, listen, Dancy, we can repeat the trade trick.’ What? You’re kidding me!
‘You can’t be serious. Besides, Herb would go ape s**t if we pulled a stunt like that again.’
‘We won’t do it like that. Herb won’t no s**t.’ He gazed out of the window. ‘What you’ve got to do is switch the start date for the review and move positions from the start of the quarter to the middle of it. Ta dah!’
‘I can’t see how it can be done.’ You can’t be serious! If you shift the dates, you’re cooking the returns and…and.
‘Dai! You’ll need that hot French chic of yours to help you out.’
‘She’s called Françoise.’
‘Yeah, whatever. Now, this is what you need to do…’
* * *
‘He wrote what?’ James smiled at her question. Mary returned his gaze. He fidgeted with the tablet that rested on his lap. What has the great buffoon done now?
‘He compared telephone boxes to Muslims’ dress. His comments have really got the press worked up. And you should see the number of online posts that condemn his views.’ He paused. ‘We can get him for this.’
‘How exactly?’ You know BJ’s untouchable. He’s the darling of the grassroots. They’ll defenestrate you instantly if you even so much as touch a hair on his head.
‘That’s the beauty of it, you see PM, we can take disciplinary proceedings against him for bringing the party into disrepute.’
‘Well, possibly. But that’s not the point. It’s to remove him as a thorn in our side. His article gives us the ammunition we need to spike his guns.’
‘But won’t disciplinary proceedings just make us look stupid? After all, everyone’s allowed to express their opinion on these matters.’ And despite what the press is baying about most people would probably agree with him.
‘PM, let me be blunt about why I’m suggesting this. BJ’s scheming to topple you.’ Just let the pipsqueak try it. Bring it on BJ! She instinctively balled her hands into fists. ‘If you—we—don’t do something to stop him, he’ll be making a run for the leadership before the autumn conference. Think of the consequences!’
‘He’s an oaf if he thinks he can topple me.’
‘But he’s an oaf you made Foreign Secretary.’ And bringing him into the Cabinet was the biggest mistake I’ve ever made. Well, apart from going out with that creep William. BJ as FS is like letting a thief guard your money. He’s continually undermined everything I’ve tried to do. And his comments on The Plan. Outrageous. Yes, cutting him down to size…
‘Thankfully, he decided to resign.’ Oh, I remember the letter. I danced a jig right here. Her eyes strayed to the area beside her desk.
‘But now he’s back on the backbenches plotting his coup.’ Yeah and with his other Brexiter malcontents. Well, like Guy Fawkes’ he’s in for a surprise.
‘Let him.’ Yes, why should I fear his little schemes. He wasn’t even able to put himself forward for the leadership last time before he was cut down. He’s an empty vessel. It’ll all blow up in his face.
‘No, no PM. We must nip any leadership contest in the bud. That’s why we must get him for his article in The Telegraph.’ What? The ramblings of a superannuated cabinet minister shouldn’t be taken seriously. What about Osborne at the Evening Standard? His petty vindictiveness at being ousted is disgusting. If only I could think of a way of silencing him! BJ’s a minnow in comparison.
‘Do you think it wise to take him on? Cotton’s embroiled in an anti-Semitism row. Our ratings are up.’
‘But PM, don’t you understand that if it came to a leadership challenge he’ll easily get the necessary votes? At the moment, we mustn’t get diverted by a challenge to your leadership. We need continuity and we need to crush any thoughts of a contest.’ Well, that’s a change. You’ve been going on and on and on about how things are and now you’re panicking. But now the wind’s blowing the other way. She looked at his face, the wrinkles and the receding hair. I really, really should have replaced you. You’re past your sell-by date, you are.
‘Well, if you think it’s a good idea.’
‘Whichever way it works out, he’ll be holed under the water.’ She conjured up an image of a huge ship, all its sails unfurled, slowly sinking into a choppy sea. It gave her a frisson of anticipation. I haven’t had such a feeling since I returned from meeting Macron at that castle of his. She shivered again. That wife of his…a real gargoyle.
‘PM? You’re agreeable that I instigate a disciplinary investigation?’
‘What?’ Oh BJ! ‘Well, yes, if you think it advisable.’
‘Of course, I do.’ He settled back into the sofa. ‘There’s another thing I’d like to bring up with you.’
‘What is it?’ She noted the twinkle in his eye. You’re in a demanding mood tonight. She thought of Des.
‘Quinn. Her internship is due to finish at the end of September. PM I’m hoping that you’ll agree to extend it to January.’ What? Let your spy stay here.
‘Ah!’ Bloody hell. What can I say? The girl’s a real pain, what with her complaints about some of the staff. But if I say no, he’ll be miffed. If I say yes, I’ve got her until the new year eavesdropping on me. Bloody hell! She gave his face a good look. He had a half smile on his lips. Yes, you can very well smirk. You know I can’t say no. This whole BJ business means I’m dependent on your good graces. You’re a slimy bastard, you know that, James. I bet you worked it out before you asked that I’d have to say yes. ‘Quinn’s doing good work here and I’m pleased you see that. I’d be delighted if she could stay on till next year.’ There. That should please you.
‘I’m thrilled that you agree.’ He grinned. ‘Shall we call her in and tell her now?’ You do like grinding it in, don’t you?
‘Of course.’ Mary went over and tapped her communications console. ‘Anna, please see if Quinn is available.’
There was a squeak from the instrument. ‘Of course, PM. Give me a moment.’
‘How was your holiday?’
Ah yes, are you referring to the Swiss Alps or Fort Brégançon? ‘Delightful. And what about you?’
‘I’m glad to hear you had a good time. You deserved it.’ He winked at her. ‘I’m off in a couple of weeks to Necker Island. Richard invited me.’ I see. You’re just trying to make me feel jealous. Invited to Branson’s personal island retreat. And what will you be discussing with him whilst you are there?
‘Well have a great time.’ It’s your poison. I’m not sure I could stand being in Branson’s company for a day, let alone a weekend.
There was a knock at the door.
Quinn appeared. Scanned the room. Stopped. Began to retreat.
‘I wasn’t expecting to see you here, Daddy.’
‘Come sit with me.’ She came over and settled on the sofa next to him. ‘Mary has something to tell you.’
‘Quinn, I’ve just told your father that, if you wish, you can remain here until after the new year.’
She looked at them both. ‘Oh!’
James hugged her. ‘That’s my girl. You’re too modest Quinn.’
‘It’s not that…’ She doesn’t want to stay. How interesting.
‘You can tell me your decision later.’
‘PM. It’s such a shock…I wasn’t expecting…I mean…’ Quinn gave them a wide-eyed look. ‘I mean, I mean yes, of course I’d be delighted to stay on.’ She jumped up and held her hand out. Mary shook it. ‘Thank you.’
‘I’m glad you are pleased.’ There was a pause. Mary stared intently at Quinn. ‘You can catch up with your father later. He and I have private matters to discuss.’
‘Of course, PM.’ She headed for the door.
‘Can you let James know that we have agreed you will be staying on.’
‘I’ll tell him now.’ That’s a quick turnaround. One moment you don’t want to stay and now you’re as happy as sandboy. No, sandgirl. Blast, sandgirl doesn’t sound right.
Quinn closed the door behind her.
‘You won’t be disappointed.’ She eyed James. He still had that half-smile smirk on his face. You mean, you won’t be disappointed. Her eyes strayed towards Thatcher’s portrait. When will I get to stop doing whatever everyone else wants me to do and start doing what I want? The picture gazed fixedly back at her. I’ve got to seize the initiative. Ah! Foch! Attack is the best form of defense.
‘When will the disciplinary hearings be held?’
To be continued…
All characters appearing in this work are fictitious.
Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.