We’ve had lawyers and accountants in all morning. The Question: How to minimise the tax exposure of an offshore special purposes vehicle? The Answers: Lengthy. Complex. Expensive. And dreary.

What is it about lawyers and accountants? Maybe it’s the years of professional study and examinations after the years of university study and examinations. Institutionalises them. And leaves them determined to avenge themselves upon the rest of us…


“Sorry Juliette.” I snap out of my rumination. “Just thinking about McCreadie’s suggestion,” I reply, seamlessly and almost sagaciously.

Juliette flicks a loose tendril of hair behind her ear. She sees that I am watching.

“What?” she asks.

“No. Nothing.”

“What?” She smiles, tentatively.

“I… I was watching Gwennie sleep a couple of nights ago.” I brush biscuit crumbs from my trousers. “She hasn’t got a lot of hair. Well, you’ve seen the pictures.” I look up at Juliette. “And it reminded me of watching you. Sleeping on that flight from New York. Peaceful. Innocent.”

“Innocent? Oh, you don’t know me very well David.”

“No, of course. I’m sorry.”

“No, don’t be… Thank you… And McCreadie, you think his scheme can work? Give us the exemptions we need?”

“Yes, I think so.” I stand and walk to the window. With my back to Juliette I look down from 28 storeys and for a moment, feel like Orson Welles as Harry Lime, atop the Wiener Riesenrad in The Third Man: “Look down there. Tell me. Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving forever?”

“You know, your wife, Emma’s been in contact.” I turn and betray my anxiety. “My wife?” But Juliette continues, “Your 40th. She’s planning… Well, I just thought you might not want to be surprised.”

I brush crumbs from my jacket. “No. Thank you Juliette.”