The homely, old style wood-paneled Principal’s office at Lusher’s College for Ladies contrasted starkly with the current holder of that august position, Mrs Clutch, an attractive angular woman of 45 whose taste in clothes tended towards the triangular. Mrs Clutch was strict with both her pupils and their parents. Believing familiarity not only breeds contempt but also inefficiency, she insisted on being called “Principal” by staff, pupils and parents alike.
“I am worried about Annabelle,” she said to Ray Purvis and his wife Raelene, who were seated across the large desk from her. “She’s regularly late, and hasn’t been to school at all for the last week.”
“She’s sick Principal” whined Raelene Purvis, a blousy woman in her mid thirties with blond hair done up, as always, in a heavily lacquered bouffant style. “I rang Miss Smyth.”
“Yes, she told me. A very bad case of the flu I believe. But still, she has been late on at least seventeen occasions this year.”
“My daughter is a keen rider, as you know Mrs Clutch …” Ray Purvis said, his answer interrupted by a glare from the Principal, and a quick, nervous glance from his wife.
“Oh, sorry … Principal. She goes out to the stables four mornings a week to train. I think she just forgets about the time,” Purvis continued by way of an explanation.
A faint smile crossed the Principal’s face. She knew she had the Purvis’s where she wanted them. After earnestly reminding them of the importance of a good education, she eased the conversation down with praise about Annabelle’s undoubted skills as a horsewoman.
“A potential Olympic champion I would have thought, but still these absences from school are a little worrying.” The Principal said, looking directly at Ray Purvis. “You must be very proud of her Mr Purvis.”
“Yes, very,” Purvis eagerly agreed. “If there’s any way we can help.”
“That’s very generous of you Mr Purvis,” the Principal purred. “As you know the school is raising money to build its own Equestrian Centre which I am sure your daughter would find a lot more convenient.”
Purvis knew he was trapped but, like a cornered animal, felt the need to offer at least some resistance. “This is beginning to sound expensive,” he weakly said.
“The point is, when it’s completed Annabelle will able to train here as part of the normal school program, wont she?” Principal Clutch said with conviction.
By the end of the conversation, Raelene Purvis was glowing with pride at the sound of the “Purvis Equestrian Centre”: A state of the art complex, for which her husband, with less enthusiasm, had agreed to pay.
After the meeting, Ray returned the offices of Purvis Holdings in the centre of the city. Time was running out on the latest development project, so Purvis and his young assistant Ralph Fly were once again trying to find a plausible financial model for the proposed shopping centre. This work was interrupted by the unexpected arrival of Sir Murray St Clair, a potential backer.
“Just passing. Thought I’d drop in for a quick word Ray.” Sir Murray announced.
“Of course, Sir Murray always a pleasure … um, anything in particular?” Purvis asked.
Sir Murray suggested it might be better if they talked in private. Purvis nodded to Ralph who quietly left the room.
“We’ve considered your shopping centre proposal.” Sir Murray announced, as both he and Ray sat down. “Regal Mortgage is willing to put up half the finance, about 40 million I make it.”
“That’s correct Sir Murray.” Purvis said with relief. Maybe today won’t be so bad after all he thought to himself.
“The board might even be persuaded to underwrite the other half.” Sir Murray said enticingly.
“That would be helpful.” Purvis replied with a mixture of excited anticipation and suspicion.
“The usual fee will apply, naturally.”
“Four percent of the loan?” Purvis asked.
“Make it five. Plus the money we’re underwriting,” Sir Murray offered by way of a correction. “I realize that this will increase your budget. Tell you what; let’s call it 90 million all up.”
“And the fee is four point five million?” Purvis confirmed with a question.
“Spot on!” Sir Murray agreed.” Much nicer dealing with round numbers, eh? For management services, paid directly to my company in Nassau of course, not Regal Mortgage.”
Ray Purvis nodded and the deal was done. The two men stood, shook hands and walked over to the office door. Just before leaving, Sir Murray turned and put one hand on his companion’s shoulder.
“Let’s not dilly dally over this,” Sir Murray said softly. “None of us knows what the future will bring, what?”
Ray Purvis closed the door, worried about the parting remark. His body gave a sudden shudder of cold, or uncertainty.
In the next episode, “Purvis, Price and Cow-pats”, Ray Purvis looks like he might finally have the money for his shopping centre, but this doesn’t stop his white shoes getting covered in cow shit.