Once the marquis had been taken down, the full splendour of Eggo’s stud became apparent. By rights, knowing me as I do, and let’s be honest, I seldom think about anything else, I should have been jealous. But I wasn’t. The stable yard was of a certain age, and there were interesting outbuildings around the place that would have rendered it something to be admired, envied even, had it been in anyone else’s hands. But such things were beyond the scope of an empty box like Eggo, and he seemed not to belong in it. And besides, the main house let it all down a bit. It was one of red brick construction dating back, ooh, say twenty years, and it looked like it had been designed by Eggo’s friend, Cardo, with a wax crayon. I had walked past some similar houses the previous evening, when I was out with mother’s dog, and I’d thought to myself then, that had I been compelled to live in one of those symbols of unambitious settlement, or take to the open road, I’d have chosen canvas, or Winnebago, over them every time. I suppose in Eggo’s case you could park your mobile home or pitch your tent inside one of the barns, and enjoy the wider property, but as I say, he falls more to the innkeeper than the wise-man side of the equation.
‘You’ve been doing well’ he says, half statement, half question. But he doesn’t laugh when I say, ‘yes, I’ve got me own caravan and an excellent set of underpants,’ as if he believes that I might be making a serious statement of my assets. To be fair to the idiot, he wouldn’t have been far wrong; I don’t like to boast, but what better sign of wellbeing is there than a good portfolio of recently acquired underpants? Mine comprise the hiker, the dress, the sports and the everyday-pant, with back-ups in each category.
He’s after my money. I’ve got some now, a stake, though not enough to buy any sort of house other than one of those red brick temples to mediocrity, so he’s telling me that there’s only one place to put it and have it grow. He and Cardo have constructed this meandering anecdote regarding Virginia Wade and Emma Raducanu, that when Virginia won the US Open in 1968, her prize money was $6,000, a relative fortune at the time, but had she just kept it, and not invested it … a salutary warning; then they go on to claim by way of illustration, that Emma’s $2.5M will one day be looked on in the same way. Face it dude, says Eggo, we all put our money in the bank and we’re going backwards. He, of course, is living proof of what can be done by growing his belongings in a petri dish
I tell him that I think the easy money bull run will be over soon, and even if it isn’t that there isn’t much headroom left, and he begins to lecture me on the flexibility of the hedge, as he calls it. I know that, obvs, but I my disdain for him and his ilk makes me see him as someone incapable of making a profit otherwise than by slavishly following a central bank-funded, gently sloping upcurve.
I definitely don’t see him as the Michael Burry type at all, but he’s persistent, talking about options, and other things that he doesn’t understand. To make him shut up I say that I’d be interested in talking to his boss about his plans for shorting the market, and Cardo chips in with, ‘time in the market, always beats timing the market.’ I have nothing to respond with to these rehearsed soundbytes, so I repeat that I’m only interested in investing with them if they can prove that they share the same dim view of the future as me.
Eggo laughs, and tells me that the next man up the chain in his organisation will only meet with new clients who have in excess of £5M to invest. ‘I’m afraid your half a bar doesn’t get you to those type of meetings, Maggie,’ he says. Oh yeah, he’s started to call me Dickie Magnolia now, because he says that I am a procrastinator. He didn’t use that word, obviously, but I knew what he meant.
I was slightly put out, because I’d saved my uranium anecdote for a keener mind. At the end of last year, thinking that either a post-Covey recovery, or old fashioned inflation, or both, was on the way, I decided that an investment strategy involving commodities would be a good one until something better came along, and then I homed in on uranium, given the clean energy rhetoric of non-Trump Western governments. Well, I found the only decent company that mined it, Cameco, and it turned out that they had laid all their workers off because of Covey, and shut down some mines, meaning that to fill their orders, they had to buy in uranium from other sources, such that if uranium prices rose, as I wished to bet, the company would be worse off. I looked around for others but couldn’t find any. The other day with this meeting looming, I decided to have another look, and this time I did find a couple of more likely vehicles for my vision. Imagine my surprise to see that since January not only has the uranium price more than doubled and Cameco’s share price tripled, but that on the very day I looked, THE VERY DAY, the uranium price spiked more than 10%.
Crushed as I was, the worst thing about it was that I didn’t, and still don’t, think that I had been tardy in my research. Do you feel like that? – that the year’s just getting going, when in fact it’s already September. I suppose I’ve always been a bit that way inclined: I never bought comics, records, clothes, or went to the cinema; then when I got a bit older I started not going on holiday too. I always put it down to not having any money, but I suppose it might also have something to do with complacency – allowing years to slip by un-lived. Mind you, it’s easier to be complacent when don’t have money. When I was a child, my mother’s husband had a system for pocket money whereby I didn’t get any. I was just supposed to ask whenever I wanted something, which, on the few times I did, always felt like an imposition, or followed a recently committed misdemeanour; on other occasions it was like the time I was to be given a leather jacket for my birthday, and when we got to the shop and he saw them (the prices), they were declared mere ‘jerkins’ and the project was abandoned. It’s perhaps why I have such an awkward relationship with money now, and why, when I finally have a bit, I don’t know whether to hold, save or invest. And it does seem to be the most reasonable explanation as to why I now find myself in the hands of a half-wit to help me make sense of it all.
I’m reflecting on all of this as I hang out my portfolio of underpants to the leeward side of Wemmick on my newly acquired clothes horse. As I do, I see that in some of them the material has worn very thin in the region of the back seam of the gusset, so much so in fact, that as I look closer, I notice that many of them have developed distinct blowholes. Not holes per se, but the untrained eye would find it difficult to differentiate them from an actual hole. Well, I suppose it is September, and most of the year has already been un-lived.