Ray Purvis quickly scanned the email he had just received about the shopping centre project from Elliot Price. A look, with just the faint suggestion of worry crossed his face.
“Not looking good with Fleece Industrial. I’m going to have to ask Biggles.”
“Biggles?” Asked Ralph Fly.
“Sir Murray St Clair,” Purvis told his young assistant sitting opposite him.
“Oh, Regal Mortgage,” Fly said, with a definite look of worry. “That’ll be expensive.”
“Probably another 4% on the top,” Purvis replied.
“That’ll make it more difficult. No chance at all with Fleece Industrial?” Ralph Fly inquired.
“Sure, there’s always a chance while we’re still talking, but Price is getting nervous. I’ve got to have another option in case he chickens out,” Purvis said as he reached for the phone.
Sir Murray St Clair, conservatively dressed and in his early sixties, was a gentleman with an impeccable accent, a limited intellect and an inherited title: An anachronistic reminder of times past when the British Old School and the Raj were all that was important. When Sir Murray arrived in Australia thirty or so years ago, he was pleasantly surprised to find that being a “Sir” was all you needed to be invited onto the board of some of the country’s largest companies.
When deregulation was the buzz word, banking was the business to be in, but Sir Murray was hopeless with figures and knew absolutely nothing about banking. As with the rest of his life, the lack of ability was no impediment and when the sharp suited brigade took over a small Friendly Society, Sir Murray was their first choice for chairman of the board.
With Sir Murray in the chair, an aggressive band of young executives, well schooled in the art of greed, transformed the small non-profit company into Regal Mortgage, a large investment bank and well known lender of last resort.
Sitting behind the large glass-topped desk in his office, Sir Murray punched at the numbers on a calculator with increasing ferocity as it repeatedly failed to perform the function he expected of it. He looked up when the receptionist showed Ray Purvis into the room.
“The agency has sent over a copy of the television advertisement for your approval Sir Murray,” the receptionist said, putting a DVD on the desk.
“Oh good, good,” Sir Murray said eagerly, before passing her a sheet of paper and the calculator. “Helen, be a good chap and add those up for me. I can’t make that damn thing work again; must have pushed the wrong dashed button.”
“Sit down Purvis, there’s a good fellow.”
Helen did not need to resort to the calculator for the three amounts on the list. “It comes to twelve dollars eighty, Sir Murray. Shall I enter it into the petty cash book?”
“Yes, carry on,” Sir Murray replied, and Helen left the office closing the door after her.
“Never much good with figures, eh what? Sir Murray offered as Purvis got himself settled. “Now this proposal: Another, one of your shopping centre things is it?
“Yes Sir Murray. My assistant is finalizing the acquisition of the two remaining properties now …”
“Interested in having look?” Sir Murray interrupted, picking up the DVD he walked over to the less formal area of the office with comfortable chairs and a home entertainment centre.
“Oh, err yes Sir Murray, very interested,” Purvis replied as he took a folder out his brief case. “I’ve got the figures right here.”
“Jolly good, Purvis. Leave it on the desk and I’ll get the lads to look them later.”
At that precise moment, Sir Murray’s main concern was the home entertainment centre. No matter what combination of buttons he pushed the DVD refused to play. In frustration, he picked up the phone hand piece and punched one of the presets.
“Helen, would you mind coming in here for a moment.” St Clair hung up the phone and indicated for Purvis to come over and join him. “Damned new-fangled gadgets. Just got used to those tape things and now we have these.”
As Ray Purvis settled himself into one of the comfortable chairs, the news from St Clair was not comforting. “I must tell you, I’ve got a limit now. If we go ahead with this thing of yours, Regal won’t be able to kick in more than half.”
Before Purvis could answer, Helen entered the room. Sir Murray indicated to the DVD player. “Can’t seem to get it off the ground, Helen. Take over will you.”
In a matter of seconds, Helen had the DVD playing.
The advertisement was very slick. Over glossy shots of rural properties, office blocks and high technology locations, many featuring Sir Murray St Clair, the narrator’s voice was deep and reassuring. “In today’s world of finance, one name towers above the rest, Regal Mortgage. Led by a man with experience in the world of finance and technology, Regal Mortgage is able to offer you both a secure and solid investment and a high rate of return on your savings.”
In the next episode, “Crystal Shopping”, Ralph Fly is sent to spy on Sky Crystal but gets more than he bargained for.