Laurence Inman is offered a job

Laurence Inman is offered a job as a Jack Nicholson look-a-like but axes the idea.

CastleLast week an invitation dropped through my internet box which looked very welcome indeed. These two blokes had arranged to celebrate their thirtieth birthdays by hiring a castle and filling it for the weekend with their wives, friends, their wives, dozens of them in the end, a castle-full in fact, and then they had organised a fun-packed timetable for them all, including team-building initiative tests, diving in the moat, looking for ghosts, black-tie dinners, dancing, industrial-scale drinking, and so on.

They wanted an actor to play a particular part in this bacchanalia and were willing to pay him over £500 for a few hours’ ‘work.’ They wanted him to ‘be odd’ in a sort of Jack Nicholson in The Shining way. To mutter mysterious things about the moat and the massacre of some nuns in the seventeenth century. To appear carrying incongruous things, like an axe or a sledge-hammer. Then at the end they would reveal it all to have been some jolly practical joke and everyone would laugh.

No, they wouldn’t. They would feel confused, uneasy, irritated and slightly bored. Then the wunderkind would look around for someone to blame for their own inability to think things through. Then I wouldn’t get paid.

They worked in ‘finance’ these people. Investment bankers, equity traders, hedge fund managers. Usurers and con-men who have elaborated a global game, the rules of which only they are allowed to understand. The fortune they spent on a few hours’ giggling came ultimately from the kind of person I’ve just heard about by chance on the radio four; she was cold-called by some verminous thief, persuaded to sue her bank for ‘mis-sold PPI’ and ended up owing him more money than she was due from the bank in the first place.

Also by chance this week I came across this from the marvellous Marilynne Robinson:

….we now live in a political environment

characterized by wolfishness and filled

with blather.



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