Thursday, 14 February 2008

Episode 12 - In a spot of bother?

Fresh from her shower and dressed in a pale grey Marc Jacobs business suit, Laura walked into the small kitchen as Martin was pouring the freshly squeezed orange juice.

Martin turned to hand her the glass ‘How do you manage to look so beautiful on so little sleep’ he asked

‘Just lucky I suppose’ she answered while at the same time checking for messages on her mobile phone. ‘I’ve been thinking’ she continued turning to help herself to a warm croissant from the basket ‘why don’t I have a word with Tony for you. I’m sure he would be happy to arrange a loan for you and he knows that you are good for the money’

Tony Eagleton was a big player in the City and Laura’s boss at the Investment Company she worked for in Bishopsgate. This could be the chance Martin needed to get his accounts back in order. The only problem was Tony had a reputation in the square mile that wasn’t as squeaky clean as he liked to make out.

‘Do you think that Tony would be interested?’ asked Martin nervously as he walked Laura to the front door

‘I can only ask the question sweetie. I’ll let you know what he says when I see you later. Are we still meeting up for lunch today?’

‘Of course darling, the table is booked, Lay and Wheeler’s at one o’clock. I’ll be tied up on the phone all morning, so if it’s OK with you I’ll meet you there’

‘Yes, no problem’ Laura answered distractedly as she slipped into her new red patent Christian Louboutin pumps, ‘I’ll see you later.’ and kissing him on the cheek, she picked up her car keys from the hall table and left for work.

Martin spent the rest of the morning on the phone with his clients, smoothing furrowed brows and trying his best to reassure them that this dip in the commodity market was only temporary.

At twelve thirty exhausted from the strain, Martin decided to walk through to the restaurant in Leadenhall Market to try to clear his head.

He knew that he had bought himself a couple weeks grace with his biggest clients. He’d managed to convince them to keep hold of their investments until the end of the month when he was sure the markets would be showing signs of recovery. All he needed now was the promise of a short term loan from Tony to keep the auditors happy and he would be OK. At least until his fees started coming in.

As Martin made his way through the crowded restaurant he spotted Tony standing alone at the bar with a bottle of Bollinger and two glasses.

‘Martin old chap, Laura sends her apologies, can’t make lunch I’m afraid, tied up with a client’ Tony laughed ‘Afraid you are stuck with me old chum’

As their table was called Tony strode ahead through the dining hall calling greetings and shaking hands with what seemed like half the diners before settling himself at the table.

‘We won’t bother with the menus John’ he called to the Maitre d’ ‘Just send us my usual two dozen oysters if you please’

Tony smiled as he poured more champagne into Martin’s glass ‘Now then old chap, a dickey bird tells me that you have got yourself into a spot of bother’

‘Only temporarily Tony, I’m looking for £250k to be repaid at the end of the month’

‘Trouble at the tables I believe’

‘Well partly’ agreed Martin ‘but the downturn in the markets hasn’t helped’

‘I’m sure it hasn’t’ smirked Tony ‘But how can I be sure that my loan would be safe. How do you intend honouring the debt?’

‘As soon as I bill my clients for their quarterly fees I will be able to repay you in full’

‘Sound good old chum, but what if your clients are tardy in settling their bills, what do you have as collateral?’

‘The villa in Spain is probably worth about 1.5 million euros now and the apartment in Southwark has doubled in value since I bought it and that’s without the equity in my business. So you see I am good for the money in the long term. It’s only a short term loan I’m looking for’

‘Why not approach your bank?’

‘I’d like to keep my bank out of this for the moment. Fliss would have to sign any loan agreement on the business and I don’t want to have to worry her’

‘Ah yes, the lovely Fliss, I hear that she is out in Spain full time now’

‘Yes she loves the life out there’ Martin looked at Tony and wondered where this conversation was going. How much did Tony know about him and Laura?

‘Rather a good cook if I remember. Well old chum, I am happy to transfer the funds through to you. Maybe you could pop into the office after lunch and sign the necessary. Just one thing though, only a technicality but I do have to keep the board happy, shall we say that you are putting the villa up as security. As I say purely a technicality’

Martin was stunned, ‘Tony, you know that I am good for the money’

‘Yes old thing, I’m sure there won’t be any problems, but as I say, I have to keep the board happy’.

Martin knew that Tony answered to no man but in the circumstances what could he do. If he didn’t get the money soon it could mean the end to everything. ‘Yes Tony, I understand, thank you’

* * *

Laura stood looking out at the City sky line from Tony’s office on the 10th floor.

‘Sweet as a nut, you were right my dear, he is desperate for the money. Good old Martin has been a naughty boy’ Tony stood behind her with his arms around her waist. ‘This time next month if all goes according to plan we should have a nice little bolt hole in Spain’

‘Poor Martin’ said Laura as she turned to face Tony ‘It’s true what they say, there’s no fool like an old fool’