Within two minutes of Sir Roderick hanging up I’d had Rupert Carmichael on the telephone.
“I’m sure you’ve heard dear boy. And I know I really ought to have been the first to tell you. You must think me terribly rude. I’m afraid that, in the end, they simply wanted a bigger man. Of course, they had to pay up. Significantly. As I’m sure you can imagine. Anyway, I know you’ll make a colossal success of stepping into Sandy’s over-sized loafers. And I’m sure our paths will cross again. I certainly haven’t forgotten our bottle of Chateau Mouton Rothschild ’59. Au revoir.”
So Sandy had got the job I didn’t want for probably three times the already exorbitant package I’d been offered. Or thought I’d been offered. It certainly seemed that I’d been set-up by Sandy. And maybe by Carmichael too. The first class flight home was sleepless.
In the morning, Sir Roderick had stood beside me as I blearily and uninspiringly addressed the troops. As I spoke, I caught Juliette’s eye. She smiled. Surely the disarming prelude to a series of unflattering medical revelations. Afterwards I’d retreated to my new, very empty office where I’d found a white envelope, embossed with the bank’s emblem, obscuring the only personal object in the office, a framed photograph of Emma and Noel. The envelope contained confirmation of my promotion and of a 50% increase in salary.
I look up now at the expectant audience in front of me. Twenty terrifyingly attentive six year olds sitting cross-legged on the floor. Noel is conspicuous at the centre of the group. I’m under strict instructions to impress. Last week’s mum had just finished designing a house for a famous young actor and tickets to see his new film were promised to the whole class.
I reach into my jacket pocket for the 6 by 4 inch cards I’ve filled with the 20 most interesting facts I know about money. Fact One: in about 1200 BC in China, cowry shells were used as the first money. So just think, next time you go to the seaside you could come back a millionaire.
I withdraw my hand and decide to throw caution to the wind. “I’m going to show you something clever that you can do with money.”
I take a crisp, brand new one dollar bill from my wallet and show it to the children. I’ve got another forty-nine tucked away, just in case this goes horribly wrong. As Noel and his classmates watch, I begin to fold the bill. Into quarters and then diagonally. Curious, the children edge closer as the folding becomes more intricate. Three minutes later and with barely a hitch, the dollar bill has become a butterfly. Perhaps not the most airworthy or beautiful of butterflies but a butterfly nevertheless. An hour later, the world’s reserve currency is crumpled and looking rather tatty, whilst the butterfly population has not been added to. But the children are happy and Noel is beaming. It seems that those eight hours of first class airborne practice had paid off.
City Dad will be continued on May 24. See past City Dad columns at www.cityam.com