The Gates to Economic Recovery and New Prosperity were being guarded by the Bankers.
A tired and bedraggled band of travellers stood before them. They were led by Flashman, the legendary illusionist and Prime Minister of the Ukshire. The Chancellor, the Cabinet and other Uks were busying themselves trying to appear invisible – an ancient trick modeled after the mythical Bank Elders.
Flashman raised his pink chin so as to appear less terrified than he really was. He tried one of his famed rictus-like smiles. “Please let us in!” .
After he had spoken, he looked round to his band of followers who made the customary grunting and “Hear! hear!” noises of approval.
The Bankers were confused and a little frightened but nevertheless, were obliged to follow their elders’ orders.
” You have to pay to come in,” oozed the Banker as he counted heads and flicked at his abacus. His fingers were a blur as he remembered: “…then there’s the insurance.”
” But we have already collected and given you all the gold that we could find. And you did promise than when our coffers were empty, we could come in. It is getting so cold out here. We are tired and hungry and we can see that behind the gates there is sunshine and the New Prosperity. If you will not let us in, would you please lend us a little of our own gold back, so that we can eat . Many are dying”
” That is not our problem. You enjoyed the Old Prosperity when we gave you more than we had. We have no more to lend. Anyway, you look as if you would not be able to repay it.”
” But who are all those smiling happy people who I can see through the gates?”
” They are the Bankers. Are you a Banker?”
” No I am not but there are occasions when I am speaking to an audience – I imagine that I can hear a whisper in the audience.”
” And what is this ‘whisper’ ?” sneered the Banker.
” It seems that there are some who think that I am a Banker – because that is the sacred word that imagine I hear. On some occasions, I can hear it several times. There must be many who think that I am a banker. Can I at least come in? Just to see?”
” Why should anyone think that you are a Banker? Do you receive a large bonus? Do you have ridiculously large expense account? How big are your share options?”
” I have none of the Sacred Trappings – I am merely the Prime Minister of the Uks but there are those who see me nearly as important as a Banker. In fact, sometimes I hear whispers which make me think that the people wish me to be in charge not only of the Cabinet, the country but of even …………………the Bankers.”
Flashman immediately looked down at his feet because he sensed that he may have gone too far. His entourage cowered.
The Chancellor tried to make himself even more invisible and tried to stop himself from laughing by biting so hard into the back of his own forefinger that blood flowed from the wound. As you would expect, it was clear liquid.
The two Bankers both took a step back. They had never heard such an preposterously outrageous claim. “In charge of the Bankers???? Who? You?!!”
They knew in that instant that they were dealing with a “Dangerous” but decided to continue the dialogue.
They had heard the legend that one day, a simple creature would come to the Gates and become “In Charge”. No-one quite knew what this strange phrase meant but they wanted to be sure. Was this “The One?”. They doubted it because the legend suggested that the one who would one day be in charge, was to be a red-headed female called Merkin from the Land of the Goths.
But the pink-faced stranger had just used the sacred “In Charge” words!
It was a joke among Bankers because they knew that no-one but a Banker could be “in charge”. They were the chosen ones.
They used to serve the people but now the people served them.
” Are you ill? What are the people saying?” The Banker took out his Blackberry and punched some buttons. His eyes did not leave Flashman, who continued:
” Sometimes when I am speaking in riddles to the people – I seem to hear not just “Banker” but also “King” Banker. That is the phrase! They call me a ”….King Banker”. That is the phrase I hear.”
” But can you talk in riddles? Can you make money disappear? Are you so self-serving, selfish and thick-skinned that you can ignore the criticisms of all those around you? How good are you at offering help to those who do not need it? Were you unpopular at school? Have you ever given money and then changed your mind and taken it back? Well…… have you. Do you have the Gift of Sneer ???????”
It was like a bolt of lightning. Flashman knew! He was The One !!
He tried his smile once again. Some recoiled in disgust but there were those within earshot who were also beginning to believe that perhaps Flashman was “The One”.
Flashman certainly believed it. He would ask for an Inquiry – just to be sure. He liked an Inquiry – that most holy of Ministerial Sacraments. Meanwhile, he decided to take the bull by the horns – he would assert himself.
” Bring the Head Banker to see me here at the Gates. Tell him that David of Camenor (for that was his real name) wishes to see him.”
There were gasps. Humans, UKs and Bankers looked at each other. For what seemed like an eternity, there was a cold silence – just like the one which would follow a joke made by the Prophet Milibrand the Younger!
Just as suddenly, the beyond-dead atmosphere was broken by a commotion inside the Gates. Word had been sent to the Head Banker. There was no going back!
Eventually, a short man in a black silk pinstriped suit appeared at the gates. His gold tooth and diamond in his chunky gold pinkie ring glistened as he removed his Fedora. The black overcoat remained draped over his shoulders as he approached Flashman.
Flashman noticed that the Head Banker’s white silk tie matched the handkerchief tumbling out of his breast-pocket. He briefly imagined his own finger in the Head Bankers chunky ring!
They stood toe-to-toe. It was the Banker who spoke.
Flashman felt more resolute than he had ever done in his life. This was his destiny. He would be the saviour of the people. This was his time. He cleared his throat.
” On behalf of the people, I command you to lend them the money so that they can enter the Gates of Prosperity.”
It was the briefest and most ” to the point” statement that Flashman had ever made – and he’d managed it without an Inquiry. He felt quite exhilarated and just in case someone was sketching this historic moment, he struck a heroic pose and focused his bloodshot piggy eyes on the horizon.
The Head Banker moved even closer. They exchanged a knowing smile.
Almost imperceptibly, the Banker’s expression changed.
Swiftly, he brought his knee up.