If you were bent on world domination but lacked sufficient confidence to do it on your own, where would you look for recruits? There must be a million answers but I doubt that among them you would find Asda’s underground car park in London N14.
But that was where Paul – or was it Ruth? – sought to enlist my help in their global scheme. I was not there at the time, being otherwise engaged some 100 yards down the road in one of JD Wetherspoon’s hostelries. But when I returned to my car, refreshed by two foaming units of alcohol, there, under a windscreen wiper, was a small piece of printed paper bearing the following message:
“Do you want to earn 150-500 per week P/T without risking your present job? We urgently need enterprising people from all nationalities to work in the UK and abroad to assist with our worldwide expansion. Call Paul or Ruth.”
I have rung neither of the numbers given for reasons I shall explain later. All the same, I should like to know more. I am not what might be described as an habitué of Asda’s underground car park, but from what I have seen it tends to be used by shoppers and youths whose clattering skateboarding prowess is observed by 14-year-old molls squinting awkwardly through beginner’s cigarette smoke. There is nothing in this litter strewn subterranean hole to suggest that it might mark the confluence of enterprising people from all nationalities, as might, for example, the departure lounge for Concorde.
Taking a still narrower focus, there is nothing about my car to suggest that it is driven by an enterprising individual prepared to slip inconspicuously across international frontiers in the cause of Ruth’s worldwide expansion. On the contrary, the squeaky rubber Christmas cracker left on the back seat by the dog implies with perfect accuracy suburban stick-in-the-muddiness. A world circumscribed by pipe and slippers and law-abiding half-pints of bitter sipped between stabs at the Telegraph crossword.
On the other hand, could that be precisely the kind of front that Paul and Ruth are looking for? No customs officer, border control guard or secret policeman could divine in your correspondent’s weary eye a desire to dominate the world.
That the rubber cracker is chewed and quite plainly past its best strongly implies that both dog and owner could put an extra 150 to 500 a week to good use. True, too, neither of us could give more than part of our time to world domination and both are risk averse, not to say cowardly. The dog’s fighting days are long since past and mine never began.
One other thought occurs. Is not Asda the lifetime’s achievement of Archie Norman? And has not that same Archie risen to the deputy chairmanship of New Conservatism? And is not his task to rebuild the party, investing it with dynamism and bestowing upon its youthful, bald leader a charismatic magnetism not seen since the days of Rudolf Valentino?
No one can better know the profile of Asda’s shifting population of underground car parkers than Archie. Is it here, then, beneath the passing roar of the 129 buses and amid the discarded, ketchup-smudged cartons of Chicken McNuggets, that the Blue Guard is being recruited? The men and women who will forge the New Tory party and take it marching gloriously to the sunlit uplands of nearby Cockfosters and then the world. It’s certainly not a cause for which you would want to risk your present job.
Intrigued though I am, I have decided to pass up Paul, Ruth or Archie’s invitation in favour of alternative opportunities. At the time of writing, I am torn between becoming a drug czar or a pygmy counsellor.
The czar job sounds appealing since it offers direct access to the Prime Minister, something for which everyone from Polly Toynbee down must crave since that blissful May dawn when Islington moved to Downing Street. On the other hand the job ad specifies, “A key factor in your success will be getting added value from resources which are not under your direct control”, which sounds like a fair definition of the impossible. Also, I’m not happy with the title drug czar. It’s too second-hand American and too monosyllabic. I should prefer to be called Drug Plenipotentiary.
So I shall have to settle for the pygmy post, though it has yet to be advertised. You may recall that last week staff at a branch of NatWest in the City said they had found a mummified pygmy in a safe deposit box. Though the anonymous owner assured the bank that what had been found was not a pygmy, mummified or otherwise, the precise nature of the contents remain a mystery.
The job vacancy occurs because the staff who investigated the box have been offered counselling. Someone’s got to do it, and I’m that someone. Have you ever felt that all your life is a preparation for a great challenge, as yet unspecified but instantly recognisable when it arrives? Well, this is it. To murmur caring, soft words of reassurance into the ears of bankers who think they’ve uncovered the mummified remains of a pygmy in a box is an opportunity that comes but once and is too good to pass up.