Broadcasting With A Difference
Alan: Take a seat, Tony. You’d better make yourself comfortable because you’ve some explaining to do.
Tony: I don’t know what you mean, Alan. I thought everything was going nicely.
Alan: Oh, you did, did you? Well, let me tell you what I want to know. Three weeks ago, I took a hard-earned and overdue holiday. I returned today and found a totally unsatisfactory state of affairs here. Kindly tell me how this came about.
Tony: What’s wrong?
Alan: Where do I start? Perhaps by reminding you that we are a local commercial radio station, much like many others but admittedly smaller than most. We rely on advertising to keep us going. In case you’ve overlooked the point, adverts are supposed to be legal, decent, honest and truthful.
Tony: Truthful, shmoothful. What does it matter so long as the mazuma rolls in?
Tony: Right. Mazuma, cabbage, spondulicks, moolah, frogskins, the folding. You do speak English, don’t you?
Alan: Yes. It’s getting through to me that you mean money, but the important thing is how we come by it. We’re supposed to do so ethically – and if you say: ‘Ethically, shmethically,’ I’ll brain you.
Tony: This is strong stuff, Alan. Where do you reckon I’ve gone wrong?
Alan: Everywhere would be a good start. Where did you find these characters you’ve hauled in during my absence?
Tony: I didn’t. They were recommended to come here.
Alan: By whom? Crime International? The ‘Mob’? The ‘Syndicate’? Just look at the identities of these companies you’ve allowed to pollute the airwaves in our name.
Tony: What about them?
Alan: Let us first consider this firm of lawyers. I know such people are into advertising nowadays, but there are limits. For one thing, look at the name.
Tony: Is there something wrong with it?
Alan: Oiler & Wheeling did not fill me with confidence, so I did a little checking. The company was set up two weeks ago and it does not employ anyone with either of the names its title suggests. By the way, I imagine you are unaware of the fact that this firm is the UK subsidiary of an American outfit rejoicing in the name Arty & Dodge.
Tony: So what?
Alan: That’s a play on words, you oaf. It’s a barely veiled twist on the Artful Dodger, who was a character in Oliver Twist, and a most unsavoury fellow. Incidentally that company too was formed a fortnight ago and nobody named Arty or Dodge works there. But let’s put that aside and consider the wording of their presentation. I’ll read you as much of it as I can stomach. Here we go: ‘If you’ve ever been distressed by anything, you can bet that there’s money in it for you. Somebody must have been at fault and we can find out who it was and make them pay through the nose. Your best bet is to opt for our premium rate Strawclutchers’ offer. That way, you can be sure that no matter how tenuous the link between what upset you and whoever caused it, we’ll dig up the dirt and get you a wad of compensation.’ There’s more of the same but I think that will do.
Tony: You’re not happy, right?
Alan: Very perceptive of you to notice that. I was also intrigued by the deal this Goldplate Finance company is offering. You may recall the patter, but I’ll remind you anyway. The extract I have here reads: ‘Yes, you heard that right. We are actually giving you a chance to invest with us at a guaranteed annual interest rate of twelve percent. And you won’t have to wait a year to find out that our offer is genuine. No, at the expiry of each month from the day your account is set up, we post to you a payment of one percent of your investment. So if you start with a modest ten thousand pounds, you get back one hundred pounds a month until you want us to return your capital. You can’t beat that anywhere. But hurry, as this offer will close very shortly.’
Tony: Sounds great. I’ve been thinking of taking a piece of it.
Alan: You dolt. This is an era of rock-bottom interest rates. Nobody can keep paying you twelve percent a year. This is obviously the old Ponzi swindle all over again.
Tony: What’s that?
Alan: It gets its name from Charles Ponzi, who worked the scam in the nineteen-twenties, but it wasn’t new even then. The idea is to tempt gullible types like you to send money to these rogues and they make the promised monthly payments for a short time. They do that by using some of the money they receive from the early plungers and from others who invest after those first victims have let it be known that they’re receiving the advertised returns. When the scoundrels have grabbed enough to satisfy themselves they close down and vanish with all the loot, except what little they’ve paid out each month for a short time. The first dupes get back only a tiny fraction of their capital by way of so-called interest, and most later takers lose everything.
Tony: Hey, that’s cheating.
Alan: Ah, a further flash of brightness on your part. Now to another of the people to whom you’ve so enterprisingly granted our facilities. I refer to this auto sales firm, Plentycars. It claims to be offering a vehicle with many remarkable features, one of which is that it can be parked in a kerb space less than its own length.
Tony: Yeah, clever isn’t it?
Alan: Most ingenious. However it appears to have escaped your attention that the photo these rascals supplied shows the car in question parked by a roadside. It certainly occupies less than its own length at the kerb. That’s because it’s parked nose-in, you imbecile. Any car takes up less than its own length in kerb space if it’s placed that way, unless you can point me to one that’s at least as broad as it is long, and I’m sure you can’t. However, we’ll move on to the last of your carefully chosen weirdoes. I’m speaking of this charity organisation, LiftaLord.
Tony: Is there something amiss there, too?
Alan: You might say that. In case you failed to vet their script, let me just read an extract from what you permitted them to say to our listeners. It goes like this: ‘We are appealing on behalf of distressed nobility. There are many members of our upper classes who have fallen on evil times and are bewildered and directionless, barely knowing where their next plate of caviar is coming from. You can help. A donation of a little as a hundred pounds will enable one of these afflicted people to enjoy a bottle of decent wine, perhaps for the first time in years. A thousand pounds will allow a deserving couple to spend three days in the kind of country manor they once occupied as a matter of course. Please send us all the money you can spare and we’ll make everything all right for these unfortunate toffs.’
Tony: Well, I don’t think there’s anything exactly out of line there. I just assumed it would be okay.
Alan: I don’t care what you assumed. It’s utterly tasteless. Now look, I’m soon going to be up to my ears in lawsuits, while you are about to seek an alternative way to make a living.
Tony: You mean you don’t want me here any longer.
Alan: Yet another of your bursts of luminosity. Yes, young man. The last thing I have to say to you is that you’re fired, with immediate effect. Get thee hence.
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