Monday 22 June 2015

Episode 29: Jaguar

From Under Dark Clouds: The story of a burnt-out British celebrity who, after scandal and disgrace runs away to a little village in Greece to seek asylum and get his head together. All he needs to do is keep his head down until the clouds blow over and on no account get elected!

Jaguar - When you absolutely, positively gotta get away
from the cops with your business rival in the boot - accept
no substitute.
Since this whole enterprise thing started I have been run off my feet, my dear blogees. I've barely had time to shit or wipe, but NOT both. I've hardly seen the wife, and the kids only when they're sleeping.

I must confess, the Pitch and Putt had left me a little disappointed if the future rested on porn and olive oil. Jude had found the whole experience quite risible but after speaking to Aris, I explained that it was a move in the right direction and it was a mindset of creative solutions to the problem that was important and not the ventures themselves. We should take heart in the changing Greek paradigm.

Aris and the Shedders had selected eight teams from the prospects including the cyber-school, some of the apps and a couple of the better olive oil and feta cheese ideas. They would be taken to the next level through their mentorage. He warned that fundamental flaws in their business plans may emerge during the incubation process but they may be able to pivot before the end. The ventures would be taken through a lean development program to arrive at a minimal viable product or MVP. The jargon is quite contagious.

What I am left with is the feeling that entrepreneurism is the key to the future and I have to get on board. The government, of which I play a minor role, is becoming the enemy of the future. The country is haemorrhaging bright young graduates, mostly to my country, and what we have left is, well, porn and olive oil. I have spent my career ridiculing authority and now life was beginning to imitate humour.

Socrates has a friend who makes children’s clothes. He has been finding it difficult to make ends meet and is considering moving production to Bulgaria or China. This struck me as madness, we have vacant buildings that could accommodate his production and more unemployed than you could shake a stick at. Socrates arranged a meeting.

Makis turned up in a new Jaguar, always a sign of style in my opinion. He squeezed himself out of the driver's seat, puffed a little and I offered my hand, he grunted and took it. Socrates and I took him into one of the prospective premises.

He shuffled around the bare open space kicking pipes and grunting. I tried to engage him about his business but it obviously troubled him too much. I looked for signs of him imaging his business buzzing out dungarees and cutesy frocks but after kicking around he just said, “Next!”

After the third, an ex national insurance office that had been vacated due to the downsizing of both the nation and its insurance. Socrates asked him to make a choice.

"The Chinese are offering a purpose-built factory," he snorted.

"But here you'll have Greek workers, experienced and hardworking," I countered.

He snorted again, "lazy fuckers! Always wanting time off and more money!"

"Maki, you know how important it is to have your business close, where you can keep an eye on it. Just think how long it would take to deal with the Chinese," Socrates said.

"You think I wanna spend time here? I'm in London most of the time running my lets. Fantastic place, London, so civil and organised." He coughed and hocked a Loogie in the dusty corner. “And! You can rent a wardrobe out for a grand a week.”

I explained our vision; to breathe life back into community, to utilise the rich resources of the town and its surrounding villages, to rebuild the working community, give the working man, and woman their dignity back, to be a shining beacon to the rest of the nation, to put hope back on the horizon. He looked at me. I offered him the premises for the first year without rent.


I laughed, he didn't.

I told him that we wanted him to employ sixty percent local people rising to ninety within three years. Now he laughed. I said we could subsidise salaries for the first six months until the new staff were trained.

"Subsidise, How much?"

I had his attention now.

"Thirty percent!"

Now he laughed and hocked another Loogie. "Those Bulgarians have to fucking sue me to get paid!" He kicked out his cigar and made for the door. "And I get a kick-back from the lawyer!" He was still making for the door. "listen, boys you're fucking amateurs. Call me when you get something juicy." I think I heard him mumble something about high-school girls.

Socrates looked at me, I don't think I've ever seen that look in his eyes before. "Maki, I've got an accountant who can do magic!"

He stopped, "How magic?"

"David fucking Copperfield magic!" Socrates fanned his fingers in the air. He approached the man by the door and turned away from me. Sun poured in through the open door and maybe it brought with it the heat that I was feeling. Socrates' lithe figure vanished in the shade of the business man. After a few minutes they turned and Makis was smiling, I think I preferred him grunting, it seemed more in keeping.

He held out his hand and made three steps toward me, I made up the rest of the distance.

"Well done, my boy! I think we can work with that." He pumped my palm.

We walked out to the Jaguar together in much lighter mood. Makis lit another cigar before sliding himself behind the wheel. "Listen, my boy, I'll be back from London in ten days. You know they still talk about you there.”


“Better off here!” his face assumed sympathy. “We'll make arrangements then. You want me to bring you something back?" He pumped a cloud from the window. "From home."

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