Opaque: Hard to understand: obscure and unintelligible in meaning
AFTER LEAVING PEAK HEALTH GYM, Pup had taken the tube to Kensington High Street. He was performing that lunchtime, for a room full of accountants, at an Awards Ceremony at Kensington Roof Gardens. The Roof Gardens are owned by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and hired out to corporates for private functions. Pup had done gigs there before and was looking forward to it. It paid well; he’d be away by 3.30 and at the Magic Circle, near Euston, by 4pm. He knew his act was perfect for this audience.
His equipment had gone on before him with his mate/driver/techie/stooge, Will. Everything was set up before the delegates arrive. Stormy may look like any other pool playing, wooden doll in a tuxedo, until the mouth, eyes, arms and cue move with Pup 20 metres away working the tables – animatronics – Chris’s idea.
CHRIS HAD WALKED THROUGH the park, rather than stay on the promenade. He’d made the diversion to get his daily fix of amusement. He was now in Independence Park, Sliema. The tree and hedge lined park is long and narrow and is sandwiched between, on one side, the rocks and sea and, on the other, the promenade and main road.
This part of Sliema is one of the most sought after residential areas in Malta. It is where many of the best hotels and most expensive apartments are. The beautiful people with their designer clothes and footwear can be seen power walking, jogging, parading and promenading from early morning to late at night. Chris did none of this but enjoyed watching them. The different speeds, sounds, gestures, wobbles, sizes, gaits, snorts, expressions, wet patches, smells and self-consciousness amused him more than any play or film. The promenade meanders for about three miles from Tigne Point, through Sliema, Baluta, St Julian’s Bay and finishes at Spinola Bay.
At one end of the long, narrow, tree lined, park is Dixie’s open air café. Dixie’s is one of Chris’s favourite cafes and not just because Mr Dixie had placed the apostrophe in the correct place on his sign. At the other end of the park is a children’s playground.
The humans share the park with fifty or more stray cats. They are extremely well fed and well looked after stray cats. The cats have their own posh hotels, shelters with bedding and plentiful food and drink, all donated by the Sliema residents. These Sliema cats and humans are more cosmopolitan than elsewhere in Malta – all colours, ages, races and beliefs.
It’s not really clear whose park it is – the cats or the humans. On balance, Chris thought it was the cats’ park as nearly every bench seat and table has a cat. It was mandatory for humans, certainly for those that want peace and quiet, to stroke, tickle, rub, play with and feed their nearest cat.
Chris was an avid people watcher. Many elderly couples spent most of their days together in this park. Each couple would have their own routine for the day. Chris was curious, envious even, as to why couples would want to spend their last years in this way. Why would so many want to be in such close proximity. Was that how they’d spent the whole of their life – holidaying, breakfasting, lunching, dinnering, cycling, swimming, walking, watching and sleeping together? Did they love each other’s company so much? Was being together all the time by choice or by circumstance? Did they know why?
There was one retired English couple, clearly living in Malta, which Chris never tired of watching. He admired them greatly as he’d never had such a calm, settled, content, relationship as assumed their relationship was.
Nothing in Chris’s life was calm now. He raged about everything and couldn’t stop his mind thinking of something else to rage about. Just spotting a political poster, catching a headline in a newspaper or a thought about one of his targets would bring about another rage. He’d be walking along the street and inside his head he’d shout ‘Fuck’. In public loos he found himself mouthing the words he’d say to one of his targets if he met them. It was embarrassing.
He couldn’t even rely on himself to do the ordinary things simply and properly. Panic was never far away. He’d find his kettle in the fridge. One day he walked out the apartment and across a pedestrian crossing before he realised he was wearing his PJ bottoms. To be sure not to lose his apartment keys he always has five sets in stock and each day places three sets in different places – bag, hat and back pocket -so that he’ll always be able to get back in should he lose some.
Routine just wasn’t possible anymore for Chris. Although he’d always been a loner he now felt desperately alone. So, there were so many things to admire in the way this particular couple got through the day. Their companionship and peace with life were both unattainable for Chris but he never tired of watching them.
The timing and sequence of their daily activities were perfectly replicated.. Chris varied the time he entered the park and guessed correctly where each would be in the sequence. The woman always looked content, serene, impeccably dressed, slim, tanned but never too much flesh exposed, short grey hair, designer glasses, straight backed and focused. She seemed to happily and untiringly ingest novel after novel. Chris had never seen her lose her concentration, her focus on the words.
This focus was a remarkable achievement. Serene Lady was never distracted by jumping, skating, stone throwing, biking, tumbling, sobbing, wailing and screaming kids. She never looked up to watch the cooing, coaxing, cajoling and admonishing grand-parents. She never shut her book in exasperation from the noise of the pram-wheeling, buggy-pushing, swing pushing, chattering and shouting parents. She never seemed to lose her train of thought as around her feet assembled lizards, fallen kids, over excited dogs and the park’s elite guard, of at least one hundred, cats in a variety of superior poses.
Twice in the day this couple would visit the café. They made one or two drinks last for hours. He would do the crossword or suck his pen and listen to his iPod. Serene Lady would recommence reading her novel.
From early to late afternoon they’d move a good fifty metres further up the park. If the cats allowed them, they’d settle at their favourite, adjacent benches. He did not look serene, like his wife, but looked very friendly yet lumpy. Lumpy Lad dressed more like a tourist with the almost obligatory baseball hat to complete the look and for protection too. As his wife resumed her reading position on one bench he would lie down, often flat on his back, sometimes on his side, knees bent, on the other. Within seconds Lumpy Lad was asleep and would stay asleep for forty minutes.
How Chris envied the fact that this man never snored and looked so content in his afternoon nap. Chris could never nap and every night he snored, sweated, hallucinated and woke himself up with the shouting inside his head. Lately he’d seen his mother standing at the end of his bed. She was wearing the nightie she’d worn on the night she died in hospital. Her oxygen mask was dangling from one ear. He heard her complaint, it was always the same, and he always responded to it angrily. By the time his alarm went off at seven each morning he was totally exhausted.
Meanwhile, Serene Lady, on the adjacent bench to the silently sleeping Lumpy Lad, would continue reading her novel. Late in the afternoon the couple would return to the café. He would resume his crossword and she, her novel. They only spoke when they moved locations. At 5.30 each day they left the park, together of course, stopping off at the grocery shop near their apartment.
One day Lumpy Lad nodded at Chris and Serene Lady said ‘Hello’. Chris was shocked that they recognised him. They’d probably been watching him and were curious about why he was watching them.
Some days, Chris would count up to twelve elderly, presumably all retired, expat couples in the park. They’d be reading, sleeping or looking into space. Many couples had synchronised movements. They’d take off their sunglasses or a layer of clothing at the same time. They’d take a sip of water at the same time. Chris’s favourite was when they raised an ice-cream cone to their mouth at the same time.
When they shuffled away together from their benches, many would hold hands. Each couple would rarely speak but they’d always remain side by side. Chris mused that all the best blues songs used train images – ‘People get ready there’s a train a coming. You don’t need no ticket – you just get on board’. Maybe these elderly couples were just waiting together at the station for that final train journey? Chris couldn’t wait around he had too much to do.
Chris stopped at the park administration and public toilets block. This was where the park’s free Wi-Fi zone was. Young people of all nationalities were on the benches outside the block, shading their laptops, netbooks, tablets and smartphones from the sun.
Maltese music was blaring out of the toilets and a well-dressed, middle aged man was sat outside. He was on hand to keep everything clean and to provide toilet paper for those that required it. But mainly he was just whiling away the hours chatting to friends that dropped by, whilst collecting his tips in a small bowl.
Chris thought to himself that was the kind of job he’d have liked. His lack of a sense of smell would have useful but he would have raged at all the men that left without washing their hands. As Chris had spent a lifetime counting things and working out proportions and percentages he realised he’d be raging at over 80% of the men. This Chris concluded might not be a good idea in the caretaking of public conveniences business.
Chris didn’t use the toilet but went straight to the mirror. He hardly recognised himself clean shaven. He checked that his scars were fully covered. He looked into his eyes in the mirror and surprised himself to see tears forming. Within seconds, the tears rolled down his cheeks until he could taste the saltiness on his lips. ‘That’s a new one’, he thought, ‘Hell, I must be fucking lonely’.
Chris went back outside and took his iPad out of his red bag to do some work on his ‘Open Shutter’ blog. After a few minutes, he shut it down and put it back in the bag. Out of the bag he took his fountain pen and the leather bound book with the magnetic clasp. He wrote:
Don’t you just love this neat little brown and gold book? I think it’s a bit special. It says it is bound in ‘hand tooled leather capturing the flavour of finely wrought Renaissance style bindings’. It has a clever little black wrap round magnetic strap to keep everything together. Well Steph, at least it’s a bit more personal than a memory stick. If you’ve read up to this point you’re about half way through. I’m sure you’re annoyed by the poor grammar and punctuation but I’m in a bit of a rush now and there isn’t time to revise – so not my usual standard.
Here’s a clipping of a press photograph I’ve kept for a long while now. It was a big shock when I first saw it. Can you see the woman, with her face in her hand, the hair, her eyes – can you see why, just for an instant, I thought it was you? She’s Nigerian and only 25 (did you spot the compliment?). Tragically she’d just laid her sister to rest. She’d escaped Libya by boat. On the way to Lampedusa, that’s the Italian island which along with Malta has been the favourite destination for tens of thousands of boat people, the engine broke down. The boat started to drift. She said that many planes and boats had seen them but only a Malta vessel, after 3 days, stopped and brought them ashore.
There were many reports of big boats pushing these tiny boats back towards Libya. The number of deaths at sea ran into thousands. Horribly, and I can imagine how desperate it was, some of them, including her pregnant sister, drank sea water. Her sister died as a result.
It was only one of many tragedies and they’re still going on post Gaddafi. But tell me Steph how could we have condoned all the US and UK air force and naval presence, there on humanitarian grounds, not helping the thousands of people dying at sea trying to flee Libya? Why are our bombing innocent citizens, anywhere in the world, including with unmanned drones, not a war crime?
They’ve learned that the humanitarian pretext is a lot easier to use than the bombing countries in self-defence – weapons of mass destruction et al. Of course the rebels cause as many crimes on humanity as the regime but no-one ever counts the civilians killed and tortured by the ‘good guys’, Syria was far worse, and a better case for humanitarian intervention, but they let that go on and on.
Anyway, it’s all Bin Laden’s fault. Getting rid of him gave them licence to do anything they wanted. LOL about the first story of a forty five minute fire-fight in the ‘fog’ of action accompanied by a picture of Obama, Clinton et al watching the raid live on a monitor in the White House.. Presumably by ‘fog’ they meant the stun grenades they used on Bin Laden’s invisible security guards. There must have been a real pea-souper in the room where they were watching it. Neat original bit of PR to release a photo of them watching it live. No-one cared that what they claimed they’d seen live they admitted later didn’t happen.
Oh well, that’s life in the movies, so, later we find out he was unarmed, not hiding behind anyone and the wounded woman, not his wife, was actually caught in crossfire between the Seals.
Every new book and film that comes out using Seals testimonies and documents, supposedly found in Bin Laden’s place, is an insult to our intelligence – but they don’t care.
We need our own media, not controlled by Corporate America, that we can present our own daily films. I think Moore was right in ‘Bowling for Columbine’. It is the images in the media, which so frighten the population about their own well-being, that makes America so aggressive. They’ll always lead the rankings on gun crime, blowing countries up and stamping out anyone or anything that is different.
All this scaremongering, from baddies in foreign lands to food that might kill you, is done to make Corporate America richer. The shocker for me was to see that Lockheed don’t just supply the weapons of mass destruction they also run the US Welfare to Work programme. This, like ours, is a programme to segregate and humiliate the poor to the point of ill health, addiction and crime – where corporate America can benefit some more. Where America leads we follow. I can’t imagine the stress you’re under Steph, being a part of these policies, day after day.
To the big, swinging dicks funding Saddam, Gaddafi, Bin Laden and then changing the deal on them is just fabulously good business. It’s a high cost in lives – just think of how many more are dying and oppressed in Libya and Iraq now that Gadaffi and Saddam aren’t there but lives aren’t a cost to US business. Each time you change a regime you’re a winner – you get the oil, the energy deals, the loans deals, the arms deals, the pharmaceutical deals, the fast food deals and the reconstruction deals too.
It’s fucking pathetic, Steph. For the last, nigh on 30 years I’ve been paying people to expose UK government officials, even to the point of resignation, but I should have been stopping their global corporate backers. It’s too bloody late exposing the propaganda and the hypocrites after the damage is done. Wikileaks is no bloody good either – it’s all after the event – I tell you no ruddy…
The raging and the effort involved in writing this down were draining Chris of his energy. He wanted to tell Steph more about his project so that she will respect him but he knew that, for today, he had nothing left. He’d over used his inhaler. He could hardly keep his eyes open and even when he tried to focus what he’d written was blurred. He’d start again in the morning. He hated not telling everything to Steph but there was no option. He knew what he was doing was for the right reasons and all he could do was give her those reasons and hope that she understands when she finds out what he’s done.
He decided to walk further on through Independence Park to watch the sun set. With luck his adopted cat, Mr Bojangles, would be there too. He’d called the cat Mr Bojangles not because this cat could dance or ‘jump so high’ but because of the line in the song about Bojangles’ dog of fifteen years. The line was that the dog ‘just upped and died’. Mr Bojangles had this same effect on dogs.
This was a large white cat with brown markings, one was on his tail and another as a patch, over one eye. When an unsuspecting, excitable dog spied Mr Bojangles in his favourite sleeping spot, in the hedgerow, naturally it would bark and prepare for the chase. Mr Bojangles did not like his sleep being disturbed.
It was a great shock to the dog, of any size, to see this large white cat advancing in slow, measured strides towards it. Mr Bojangles also had a whole range of hard cat gimmicks as he approached the ring. Two of these gimmicks turned every dog’s blood to ice. Mr Bojangles would paw the air with each claw in turn whilst making the most fearful loud hissing sound. The dog immediately understood that Mr Bojangles was not amused and, worse, was a seeker of a dog damaging, vengeance.
The dog would stop barking and for a second would freeze, with tongue flopped out uselessly and eyes staring incredulously.
Then, sensibly, the dog would turn to leave. The dog’s pace would then quicken considerably as he realised that he was being followed, at Usain Bolt-like speed, by Mr Bojangles. Less than ten seconds later the humans and cats in the park would hear the familiar, anguished sounds of mauled dog. The dog probably survives. Mr Bojangles is unscathed. He struts back, in measured strides, to resume his place and sleep in the shade of the hedgerow.
Sat on their bench overlooking St Julian’s Bay, Mr Bojangles and Chris watch a, ten metre wide, strip of sunlight. It is at least a mile long. It starts from the highest point on the horizon – the top of the blue Portamoso tower. It travels down through the dusk and then rides on the waves of the dark sea to rest directly below them. They are the chosen ones.
PUP WAS THINKING ABOUT SEX AGAIN. He was thinking about meeting Charlie soon. He knew they were in love even though they’d never spoken to each other. He knew he should be preparing to go on stage, visioning his act and illusions. But here he was walking around the gardens, looking across the rooftops and down below to the frenzy and frustration of people worried about they look and whether they’d be late.
He loved this place, the French Garden, the Spanish Garden, the English Garden, saying hello to the flamingos and cocktails in the Silver Bar. He wondered what the rest of the Richardsons would say when he went home tonight with plans to turn the flat roof extension at 94 Sunningfields Road into a garden attraction.
Thinking about sex brought to mind Chris’s belief that pleasure was always more powerful than threat or torture. Most of what Chris had found out about the people in power he’d learned from those that give them pleasure. Once when Pup was at his lowest, Chris told him he was thinking too much. Working life and monogamy are about repression but sex is about escapism. Lust was too powerful for even the most powerful to control.
Pup, had seen for years when he’d been the resident MC at the Stork Club, just how champagne, cocaine and sex fuels the City of London. Male discretion vanishes in the instant of the hostess or dancer loosening their belt or unzipping their fly. Presumably, Pup thought, his father, Geoff, will have enjoyed these extra-curricular activities with his clients but, although Geoff and Pup were well off – they were never in the league of Chris and Nick. A Gold Amex card was the key to unlock any door in London in 1984 and Chris and Nick’s stories on tour that year were legendary.
Chris made out that his job as a European HR Director, mainly involved negotiating deals to hire talent they needed, whilst settling with those executives they summarily dismissed and smoothing over all the indiscretions of the top executives – particularly in-company indiscretions where the woman would be compensated for leaving. Chris always said the reason there was a glass ceiling was because the men above it didn’t want women seeing how they spend their time.
Chris believed that the reason for his continued high earnings, continually being headhunted and longevity – right through to early retirement at 55 – was that he couldn’t be fired. Chris always knew too much. The reason he knew too much was that he always asked the women, he was asked to placate or move on, what they’d found out about the executive.
To prove his theory that pleasure is a faster way to the truth than pain. Chris had told Pup of the Dom, to the rich and powerful, that he knew when he was in ‘Corporatedumb’, as he used to term it. He started by saying ‘Think of the top tennis stars, the top formula one stars, the top footballers, top footballers, top actors and top pop stars. Think how much they must get on an hourly performance basis – now double it. One hour for her to humiliate you.’
On entering her suite an attractive slave would entertain the client. Entertainment could take the form of massage, drink, food, drugs, videos, music, dance, fellatio, jacuzzi and sauna – whatever helped the client to relax. When relaxed she’d bathe him and then put a black leather hood over him. The apertures for the eye and nose were quite large but the opening for the mouth had a gold zip. Dependant on the forthcoming entertainment, the slave would either put leather handcuffs on him, to secure his wrists behind his back, or a leather restraint which secured his wrists to the very top of his thighs. She would then lead him into her Mistress’s room.
There were a few instruments of play, or pain, on display but this was not a dungeon. It was a very warm and sumptuously furnished boudoir. Standing in front of the client was a slim, tall, and naked, apart from diamond necklace, drop earrings, black silk gloves, stockings and heels, young woman. There was a professional camera man there too. Such was the fame of this Dom amongst the rich and powerful that a film to show your rich and powerful friends, or jerk off to, was an additional feature of the entertainment package. The camera man always stayed out of the client’s eye line.
She looked so damn good, slim, and almost skinny, long legs, pert, small breasts, and clit ring, black, short hair in a fringe, dark blue eye shadow, long black eyelashes and red, gloss lipstick. She spoke in an affected, smoky, mellow, warm but always sounding slightly curious voice. She was English but each word was enunciated as if she had only just learned but liked the sound of it. The last syllable always went higher – as if a question. It usually wasn’t – it was an instruction. Each instruction was short – one to three words.
She was, in heels, taller than most of her clients. She maintained eye contact from his first coming into the room. The guy would come before she’d said a word, usually within seconds of his entering the room. After being secured against a wall she walked slowly to him. A slap of his cock, a squeeze of his balls and a slow pull down between finger and thumb as if testing whether the cock could disappear into the balls – and that was it. The Dom would walk away slowly a few metres and stop with her back to him whilst the slave girl would clean him up and then leave. The Dom then turned round and said to her client ‘Now… I play’.
She seemed to do everything in slow motion. For minutes nothing would happen at all. Then when with her client standing, maintaining eye contact throughout, she’d hold his cock until it was hard – then look at it and then slap it hard. Painful I should imagine. Whenever she got his cock hard, she’d often do nothing for minutes, even walk away to smoke a cigarette. Then she’d return and squeeze his balls – hard, slap his cock – hard and whip his cock and balls – hard. She’d insert a silver needle into his urethra – very slowly. She’d turn and put his cock between her thighs, brushing her vagina but holding the end so he couldn’t move.
She’d sit on the couch with him on his knees in front of her, she’d open her legs and bring his cock to her vagina and she’d order him to ‘Push’ but his cock was never allowed beyond her lips. In fact he never would get to penetrate her.
Her finishing moves usually involved him on his back, again unable to move, and her straddling his face with her back to him so that her gloved hands could play with his cock. She may put his cock to her cheek and just hold it there. Every now and then she’d open the gold zip on his hood and say ‘Lick’. Once, maybe twice she’d open the gold zip, hold his mouth open and piss in it. Near the end of the allotted time, still straddling the client the Dom would stroke his cock to the climax of pressing his cock to her breast and he’d explode. She would then walk out the room and he’d never see her again.
Chris made the point that the client was always so desperate to come or for a blow job, or to penetrate her that had she rewarded him with that in exchange for the answer to any question – she could get any question answered. She was more powerful than Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. They nicknamed her Top Cat because she topped all the Fat Cats.
Pup always wondered whether life would bring him his own Top Cat but he knew such fantasies have to be bought – they don’t exist in real life. Then again, Charlie was tall, slim, dark haired and fit – Pup could but hope.
STEPH DIDN’T LIKE IT when the Chamberpots ignored her, when it all went quiet. She knew that, to them, she was ultimately Chris’s lover and also a representative of Her Majesty’s Government but she’d hoped that over nearly fifteen years she would have built their trust. Trude, especially Trude, lived within half an hour’s walk from Steph and they got on well.
Had she offended her on the train trip back from the tennis? Did she ask Trude too many questions about what Chris might be doing? Did Trude know from Chris that Steph had cooled their relationship? Did she think that if they were no longer an item, there was no reason for Steph to continue to attend Chamberpots get-togethers. To Steph that would be just horrible – she was so looking forward to the Globe and then the Olympics. These were her friends.
Steph had contacted Scalesy and agreed to meet him for coffee. Scalesy was always helpful, always straight – a kind, honest man with a lovely sense of humour. He’d understand if Steph needed re-assuring about how it was all going to end.
Steph was in London in the Victoria and Westminster area. Although Scalesy’s most famous clients were in Buckinghamshire, the majority were in Central London, so it was easy to fix a date. Scalesy suggested a day when he was going to meet with Dave and Nick so that if there was anything Steph needed sorting with the others he could do it straight away.
Scalesy, suggested they had breakfast at an old school Italian café close to Westminster tube station and across the road from the Houses of Parliament. Scalesy was reading Metro at a table but had waited for Steph to arrive before ordering. They both had espressos. Scalesy had a croissant. Steph had yoghurt and fruit. Before Scalesy had taken the first bite of his croissant, Steph handed him her iPad saying: ‘Have you seen this?’ It was one of Chris’s ‘Open Shutter’ blogs. Steph said: Do you know how to scroll it down… oh I’m sorry Scalesy, of course you do’.
‘No worries’ said Scalesy and quickly read the blog.
CORPORATE FRAUD WILL DROWN US ALL.
It is a mistake to think the world is imploding from natural disasters and US, UK and France supported military interventions. For the cause of the implosion one need look no further than the beneficiaries of these environmental and human disasters. Major US corporations and their UK supporters are the cause.
No matter who lights the blue touch paper it is these major corporations that are the preferred suppliers of the fire extinguisher. Sudan, Syria, Bahrain, Yemen, Mali, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Iraq, Mauritania, Tunisia, Egypt, Afghanistan, Libya and Tunisia are easy to light the blue touch paper and so, to these Corporations, are immediate market opportunities. Every now and again they have to change the management team in these countries to maximise the earnings potential.
It took me many years to understand that the media fill their pages and air space with the words and actions of politicians, which allows the puppet masters to remain hidden from view. Career politicians become very wealthy people as a result of being the communicators of the Corporates. That is just the way it works. It is why, whichever politicians form a government the result is always the same, for, inexorably, their purpose in governing is to protect the assets of those that sponsored them and ensure the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. No US or UK Government has bucked this trend for 30 years.
The only way for western society to evolve more positively is to find a process to elect new rule makers. Current democracies only perpetuate the status quo. The world is ruled by these corporates and so our world is drowning in corporate fraud.
Over the last decade every Wall Street firm has paid big fines for all sorts of crimes including outright embezzlement by their CEOs. A few years since the biggest financial crisis in history not a single financial leader in the UK or US has faced jail. The bigger you are and the more trouble you get into the greater the certainty you’ll be bailed out.
Most of the corrupt bosses are still in position and getting fatter on their mammoth salaries, perks and bonuses. They run the IMF which is as dodgy as all the financial institutions they run. What is worse, because it’s a matter of life and death, is that they are the ones that make the decisions about which regime is to be supported that has got the oil or natural resource they want. Not surprising that the first sale of oil by the Rebel Council was to Qatar and yet it all went to the US to be processed.
The US hated that Gaddafi had National Oil to sort out profit sharing terms with global oil companies, worse he was talking to China and India, and worse still was threatening to get rid of the current system and distribute oil revenue directly to the people. It was an imperative for Corporate America that they privatised the Libyan Oil industry.
It’s not just oil though. Blowing up a country, getting control of it and putting it back together again is just fantastic business. Tomahawk missiles cost $1.5 million dollars each. At least 4000 missions are needed to blow somewhere like Libya up but it still represents a good investment. US Arms sales are increasing at 50% per annum, technology, construction, medical, loans and financial services- all are going up and up.
They make so many $Billions they can afford to admit to the Senate that over $60billion in cash went missing that they’d lent for Iraq’s reconstruction. The corporates don’t get rich by conventional trading they get rich by being very good at acquisition, speculation, gambling, fraud and corruption. Voters do not understand the numbers.
For example organised crime in Italy, primarily cocaine, is reckoned to be worth £160 billion a year. It sounds a lot until your realise that it is about the same turnover as Italy’s largest energy company and less than one per cent of the amount accumulated by legitimate US and UK financial services companies from their proven mis-selling of financial services products and investments.
In other words, corporate fraud pays over a hundred times better than organised crime. Both the leaders of the organised crime and the legitimate financial services industry believe, despite the destruction, deaths and poverty they cause, that it is ‘only business’ and there is little chance of them being punished.
Don’t think it’s done for all the shareholders either, it’s mainly done for the Chairmen, the CEOs, the executive directors, a few non-executive directors and a few controlling, institutional, shareholders. They avoid taxation because they pay other corporates in the club to do that for them. All the top 100 corporates switch accountants from time to time but it is still the the same five accountancy giants that share all their business. No need for conspiracy theories about tax laws or tax avoidance.
Corruption pays big time. Look at Rick Scott, Governor of Florida or Steve Rattner. When Obama he wanted someone to help with the bail out of the Automobile industry he chose Rattner to fix ii even though Rattner was under investigation for giving kickbacks to government officials. Of course he settled his own case for a few million dollars.
That’s the point though, isn’t it? If they get caught they settle but they’ve still done really nicely out of the corruption. Vice President Cheney set the precedent, before he became Vice President of the USA and Head of Acquisition of Iraq’s oilfields. He proved that they’d never take on the biggest multinationals. While he was CEO of Halliburton, his firm engaged in illegal bribery of Nigerian officials to enable them to win access to that country’s oil fields. Getting access was worth billions of dollars and certainly worth a paltry out of court settlement of $35 million.
Half the US Congress are millionaires and very many have ties to the Corporates before they arrive in Congress. The UK has gone the same way, although many make the multi millions after they leave office.
I thought that ‘Bowling for Columbine’, Michael Moore’s film, concluded that what made America many more times violent with its guns, than any other country, was the images of fear that its media propagates. This fear, putting a whole country under stress, is in the interest of and therefore promoted by the Corporates.
Whilst maximising income in the US by promoting fear of crime, obesity, cancer and so forth the same Corporates are turning in record sales and profits by promoting different messages, even the opposite messages, in other countries. Cigarette sales are increasing worldwide yet millions die from smoking. Prescription drugs, oil spills, radiation and technology cause more deaths but the corporates maximise the revenue earning opportunity in the countries that allow them to get away with it.
It is probably two generations after the event that society finds out about the millions that have died because of the Corporates lobbying and getting legislation which enables their mass marketing of products which may be detrimental to health – from technology to foods. The only sure thing is that when they do find out the perpetrators are incredibly wealthy and their lawyers settle – no-one gets locked up.
The West’s leading politicians are regularly invited to hold secret talks with the wealthiest Chairmen, Owners and CEOs of America’s largest Global Corporates. This is the ruling class not the group that have been elected to govern.
The ruling class will congregate at the Koch Brothers annual two day get together of America’s wealthiest individuals, or within the Carlyle Group, Bilderberg, Buffet and Gates’ Billionaires Club, FIFA, the International Olympics Committee and so forth.
There are lifebelts to prevent our drowning. The way to change all this, getting the ruling class to act differently, is through citizen journalism and whistle-blowers. But it has to be about what they plan to do, not just what they’ve done. When voters understand the scale of the crime and the suffering, for the few to prosper, they will mandate their governments to prosecute individuals for corporate fraud. When the judiciary have no alternative but to send individuals to jail for corporate crimes then the ruling class may modify their behaviour.
Scalesy put his reading glasses back in a leather case and looked quizzically at Steph and asked:
‘So what’s different between this and Chris’s other blogs?’
‘I think you know Scalesy. The last two paragraphs are a call to arms. He’s not just looking to expose those he considers hypocrites. He’s looking to expose the most powerful men, and a few women, in the world. He as good as names them. He’s never done that before. Is this what all this frenetic Chamberpots activity is about? Is he trying to get to these people? This is out of your league.’
‘Whoa. Steady girl. You know Chris better than any of us, probably, why do you think nearly 30 years ago he formed the Lord Chamberlain’s men?’
‘Because he wanted to level the playing field and getting rid of a few baddies would do that?’
‘Partly, but the main reason was that we were all angry. We were all furious that the pictures on our television screens about the miners’ strike were purely government propaganda. It’s strange that in April 2012, when you and I carry at least two devices on us that can instant pictures and movies of everything that happens, we’re still angry about the propaganda in the media.’
‘So you’re saying it’s not just about Chris?’
‘What Chris has done, or at least he’s tried, is to keep us honest. He can be very boring but he only deals in fact. His blogs are just a way of reminding us, all the journalists and film makers he’s sponsored, and the influencers on the politicians, that exposing the truth is a damned good idea.’
‘But what are you up to, Scalesy? If you don’t level with me I’ll have to let my bosses know – so that they can find out’
‘That’s cool Steph but remember we never do anything illegal and we’ve only ever supplied information to Chris. How old is Chris? Late sixties, I guess, I doubt if he’s going to start being a baddie now either.’
‘That’s not very helpful, Scalesy’
‘Put it another way then. Since 1984 the only people that know what information we’ve passed to Chris are me, Dave, Trude, Pup, Tricks and Nick. We don’t even know what the others have passed on to Chris. When you read about the scandals of MP expenses, secret government deals with media and lobbyists, government contractors making millions for fuck all, sorry, you don’t know if it’s Chris behind it or Private Eye or that investigative journalists association or just a great idea they had themselves – and neither do we.’
‘So, I’m saying, do you trust the man you love, to not do anything to harm us? I do and that’s why I’ll continue to help him until he dies.’
‘OK Scalesy, but aren’t you worried that something has changed him. Nick called him ‘loose cannon’.’
‘Not everyone helps Chris just because they trust that he’s trying to do something useful with the information we give him. For many years, some Chamberpots have been scared stiff of what Chris could and couldn’t do to them. Sometimes we are a coalition of the unwilling. The fact that Chris is dying and is choosing what he wants to do before he dies, scares them even more, but it shouldn’t scare you’.
‘You don’t seem worried that I might have to tell my bosses?’
‘Chris thinks someone has told your bosses years ago. From time to time he’s sure he’s being followed. Ir could be paranoia but I doubt it. Since 1984 he’s been prepared to be questioned by the establishment and all his data seized. He wouldn’t be surprised if everything he’s said, typed or written has been monitored. Personally, I think he’ll be disappointed if he isn’t ever questioned. Knowing Chris he’ll hand them a script for his interrogation. He’s always had his lawyer friends on standby. I don’t think you have anything to worry about. If you are worried tell your bosses – Chris would understand’.
‘So are you a reluctant Chamberpot, Scalesy?’
‘No, Steph, I’m not. Meeting Chris 30 years ago and all our Chamberpots get-togethers has been terrific fun. I wouldn’t be as successful without the encouragement Chris has given me and the clients that he’s put my way. I’ve never been asked by Chris to do anything that I don’t feel comfortable with doing. I’ve done nothing illegal or wrong. I’m going to really, really miss him when he goes. Aren’t you?’
‘Then lighten up Steph – we’ve got The Globe then the Olympics to look forward to. You shall go to the ball and I’ll be delighted to accompany you.’