Wednesday, October 8, 2008
The Real Deal
Jonathan Roberts (the chap from the council’s finance department) went pale. I’m sure I could have swapped his soul for an assurance that I was joking, but I wasn’t.*
“I have all the records,” I said, spreading them out on the reception coffee table.** Feel free to verify them but I can assure you that they are all in order.”
“I can see that.” He was in accountant’s shock – that state where you know you’re going to have to explain something dreadful to Important People. “So what do you want?”
“Call it two hundred monkeys,” I said, “by the end of the fiscal year.” ***
He shook his head, still staring at the paperwork. Finally, he looked up. “It can’t be done,” he said. “We just don’t have the budget for it.”
“Then you can transfer the ownership of the building to me,” I said. “That’s just a bit of paperwork. I’ll even let you carry on using it and collecting rent for the market stalls, in exchange for the upkeep.”
“It’s not worth what the council owes,” he said. “The ledgers won’t balance.”
I smiled and played my ace of clubs.**** “And you’ll register the building as a charitable concern, free for any taxation duties in perpetuity.”
*I got his soul anyway, on July 22nd 2002 when his widow gave him an electric razor for his birthday. He was in the bath at the time, on the telephone to his girlfriend.
**Veneered chipboard with spindle, screw-in legs and moon-lander feet. A motif of stenciled leaves done by a well-meaning teacher of economics.
*** A monkey = £500