One hundred thousand pounds is no use to anyone. I have lived recently under the vague notion that I had secured a stake in my future, but now, as I am rendered homeless again, I realise that it is anything but. Roger walked in to discover me squatting in his des-res, and I have come to learn that besides being a long way short of what is needed to secure a property, a oner also happens to exceed the threshold which adversaries consider when deciding to sue you.
I haven’t seen Nomadland yet, but perhaps with (temporary) access to funds and some paid employment I’m not so much homeless as camping? The issue of where to pitch the tent though, looms: I have grown used to living round the corner from Fips in a quiet and deserted London, and I’d slipped into the idea that it was to continue forever like that. If I were to start renting in the same area, my meagre funds will run out like sand in an egg timer. How did this happen? I was doing well, wasn’t I? It cannot be the parent’s shed, for various moods of shame with a Greek etymology; no, I have my dog’s nose-eye on unravelling the bedroll in an off-piste part of the woods, and will settle for now to come in to town every few days to tune into the internet, like an old crofter coming to stock up on oats, whiskey, and a massage. Perhaps I should deploy my funds on a mule?
Roger’s key turned in the lock as I was shouting, ‘you idiotic cove,’ at a contestant on The Chase; ironic really, since that was where I acquired my portable property. She was a drama teacher who, get this, ‘was obsessed with Disney’ and who, with her partner, had set on a course of visiting every Disney theme park in the world. I will resist, for now, the temptation to speak about my own pathetic education, and say just this: she would have made a poor pupil, and yet somehow, she is charged with the responsibility of teaching. TEACHING. DISNEY. Note the ‘for now’ of it, because I’ve started to think about this a lot and I’ve got myself all angry. Perhaps she is the sort of person who keeps novelists like Richard Osman, Graham Norton and Phillip Schofield in work, which, if she is, means that there are more of them than us. This jolting bolt of realism is not going to end well.
Fips pesters me constantly about this lack of grace, telling me that I am too motivated by a sort of bitter revengefulness. I know what he means, but I am not so sure I agree with him. Is it not one of the great joys of life to watch people you know succumb to failure? And when, like me, you have successfully divorced yourself from every so-called friend you once had, it is obvious and natural to see celebrities as your nearest and dearest – they are certainly the people who talk to you most. Spend time with anyone and you will learn how to hate them I say.
This eviction comes as news reaches me that Big Eggo has bought a local stud farm. He rang me up actually, to talk about Dog’s Bowl, who have been outed recently as appalling employers – their entire workforce wrote an open letter to the press to say so. He still takes credit for finding me the position, and he wanted to know what I’d done to upset the harmony in a ‘valued client’. Why do people think of me in that way? I’m a delight. And besides, I’m not allowed in the office.
When he dropped into the conversation that he’d bought the stud farm, I froze. My extemporised lexicon does not stretch to the appropriate word to describe the sensation that combines equal proportions of jealousy, cold fear, regret, anger, grief, disbelief, and indignation; it’s a rum concoction of acknowledged superiority mixed up with a crushing recognition of inferiority, which perhaps doesn’t yet have a word of its own. The Greeks were best at this type of thing, so I am going with Don’t-Phthone-Us.
I have spent my entire life from teenager until recently enslaved by horse racing, and only by a determined effort of self-denial during lockdown have I finally weaned myself away from the illness, yet I find myself jealous of his arriviste elation. He’s thick, and has about twenty years of research to catch up on, but I can’t persuade myself to think in terms of my passing a disease onto him, only that he will get out of it that which I never could.
He’s leaving his bank, to set up a Hedge Fund with some ‘buddies’. Must have been a good year, I hear myself saying, ‘very good; crypto and tech stocks,’ is all I get in return. But it’s expensive to set up a Hedge Fund, isn’t it? It turns out, that the Elon Musk play has funded all that, and he’s bought his stud farm with the gains he’s made from his punt in the property market with his equally gormless mate, Cardo. ‘I told you to get in,’ he reminds me, ‘but you and your uber-bear myseryomics wouldn’t hear of it.’
It was my total net worth of less than twenty pounds at that time that wouldn’t hear of it, but I tell him that there will be an economic consequence to pay for Covey and that we’ve just experienced a temporary blip of upswing caused by people like him who are incapable of thinking beyond the end of next week. Listen to me, giving a man who’s just spent £10 Million on a stud farm a lesson in economics. Under some misguided notion of what it means to be successful I had confused a savings account which would fall short of being able to secure a small bungalow without garden in the Yemen, with real wealth, which people as ordinary as Eggo had got on and accumulated while I was being clever taking the piss out of celebrities and putting on a Christmas panto.
‘Don’t miss out next time,’ he tells me, ‘join the fund, we want boys like you on board.’
I repeat that I believe that any ups in the market have been caused by bail outs and low interest rates and that both will end soon, and Eggo says, ‘for sure, when the shoe-shine boy is giving you tips it’s time to bail. The beauty of the Hedgie, Dickster, is that we make money whatever direction the market’s going in.’
Did he mean that I was the shoe-shine boy? And it’s bus-boy by the way.
The call ended, and I found myself immobilised by Don’t-Phthone-Us. Suddenly I recalled that as a small boy I had decided that my life’s goal would be to own a stud farm in France like the one I’d seen on White Horses. Whatever happened to him? How come he let coves like Eggo come up and pass him?
And more importantly than all that, what is life really going to be like when lockdown ends and we have to stop messing about without consequence every day? It’s Eggo 10,000,000: Dickie 0, and it’s only half-time.