Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Is Caroline an extravert?

Caroline, Antonia and the other high-flyers had some tests done to see how well suited they were for the upper reaches of the business pyramid.

Melody gave them a schedule of questions to answer and discuss in pairs. She explained there were no wrong answers, but action-orientated extraverts who liked the big picture were in pole position. Antonia, Head of PR and Social Media, whizzed through the questions and the scores confirmed she was indeed in pole position.

Caroline, numbers girl, cautious, thoughtful, and attentive to detail, struggled to find answers in the tick boxes which fitted her complex feelings in social situations. But she was smart enough to know what Melody was looking for and ticked accordingly, resolving to develop her extravert qualities in the quest for promotion. She knew from experience that it only took a couple of glasses of wine for the inner accountant to take a back seat.

When she finally came home she wanted to try out the tests on me. Initially, I refused.
'Go on, Robert. It really works. I learnt something about myself.'
'Lawyers don't do tests,' I explained, 'only exams. Lots of them. What did you learn about yourself?'
'I learnt that I had been supressing my wish to speak out and propose action because I was worried what people would think. Leaders need to be decisive, not get bogged down in weighing up the evidence like you do.'
'So I don't need to do the test, do I? You've decided I'm an introvert.'
'Well, you don't speak much at parties and you prefer to write things down. Extraverts prefer to speak, introverts prefer to write - recognise anyone, Robert?'
'That's women and men, not extraverts and introverts. I'm a lawyer; we do write things down, otherwise it's not evidence.'

I did the test under protest. Caroline watched me, sipping a glass of extraversion. When she saw me sucking the end of the biro, she said:
'You're not supposed to think. Just tick the one that feels most natural.'
'But it depends on the situation, who I'm with.'
When I'd finished, I came out borderline, saved from outright introversion by my wide circle of friends: Antonia, (Caroline's friend, strictly speaking); Rampant Jessica (a work colleague); and 80,000 other Manchester United supporters.

I'm still not sure about Caroline. Is she an extravert? If you have read Shameless Ambition and have an opinion, please let me know.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Beckam retires - Francine starts playing

A second reaction to the publication of Shameless Ambition has flooded in, this time from Von Wolfswinkle’s wife, Francine Beauregard.

‘When I read the first half of your book I had an urgent need to see Bernard Cottoneau. Fortunately he was in Paris for the spectacle of David Beckham’s final game at Parc des Princes. I tore his clothes off and we made passionate love until 6pm. Then I sobbed onto his hairy chest as I summarised my husband’s infatuation with your wife, Caroline. Bernard was understanding, but then he had to leave for his seat in the box next to Victoria. I stayed in bed and read the second half of the book. Then I soaked in the bath, and relived the special moments I had with Bernard (in my mind).

I walked back to my flat with Pistou and Bisque as night fell. What a consolation Shih Tzus can be. They understand a woman’s heart better than any human, and certainly better than you, Mr Fanshaw. I talked to them as we walked in the grounds of the Tour Eiffel. My thoughts coagulated into certainties which I must communicate to you.

Yes, I will stand beside my husband Herbert in refuting the suggestions of impropriety. It is a fact that he has a lifelong artistic, and innocent, interest in photography. It is also true that I was with him at the Mermaid Club in Copenhagen, though not always in the same lounge.

He is an honourable banker who has ensured the upkeep of my residence in Paris to the highest standards. He is well suited to his new position at the International Monetary Fund. He loves travel and for him New York is only a short flight away. What a pity I am unable to fly due to a condition for which I am receiving regular treatment at the clinic near to Bernard’s apartment.

I have learnt that in life one must be open to new experiences, even those which are not chosen. My visit to the Mermaid Club was my first visit to an establishment of that nature, though to Bernard of course it is quite familiar. I can say my eyes were opened to possibilities I had not previously contemplated, especially in the themed rooms. Whilst it is sad that Herbert will be away for months at a time, I intend to use my free time to explore an aspect of my longings that were previously suppressed. So pass on my thanks to your wife Caroline for inadvertently leading me to pastures new.
F. BR v W.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

A rose by any other name

Caroline tells everybody she hasn't read the book. That didn't stop her from thinking that she should decide what the title should be.

When you start committing anything to virtual ink, you have to give the file a name. I collected together the emails, video clips, camera phone snaps, Sid's files, Caroline's notes, and my investigations into a folder called Bluebell, the name Caroline had given herself when she wished she was someone else.

When I had stitched the diverse material together, written the links, split it into chapters, and put the events into a coherent order which they seemed to have lacked at the time they happened, I racked my brains for a title that would sum it all up neatly. I made the mistake of asking Caroline if she had any suggestions.

After a couple of glasses of wine she becomes quite attached to her super-confident alter ego, Bluebell. She decided Bluebell Saves the Eurozone would be perfect. I pointed out that, whilst she had a part of play in the great events surrounding European integration, it was stretching things a bit to attribute the success of the project to one woman's strange relationship with a prominent banker.

"Okay then," she said, Bluebell Goes Banking."
"That could be easily misread or misunderstood," I said.
"If you didn't want my opinion, why did you ask me?"
"How about Bluebell the Honey Trap?"
"Robert, you're not suggesting..."
"I'm not suggesting anything except a snappy title. You travel a lot. What about Caroline Takes Off?"
"Ha bloody ha! My clothes, you mean. I think you shouldn't lose the politics. If you want snappy, how does Euro Bondage strike you?"

The level of argument deteriorated and Caroline, still not completely comfortable with the role her friend Antonia plays in the book, said words to the effect of If you're dismissing all my suggestions why don't you ask Antonia what she thinks? To which I replied, grabbing my phone for effect, All right, I will then.

Antonia was delighted to be asked her opinion, but said she needed time to think about it, and why didn't I call in tomorrow on my way home from work. I asked her to just say the first thing that came into her mind and she said Strip Time, Caroline, referring to Bluebell's debut performance at Spanish Knights. For some reason, Caroline was even less happy with this suggestion, so I thanked Antonia and rang off.

"The trouble with you, Robert, is that you're just shameless. Most people would try and cover this all up, not make it public. But you have this ridiculous ambition to be a writer and you won't let anything stand in your way, not even my delicate sensibilities."

A Delicate Sensibility would have been wildly misleading, so the book became Shameless Ambition.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

'I deny everthing'

After consulting his lawyers and publicist, Maximilian Cliffhanger, Herbert von Wolfswinkle has asked me to post his denial of any wrongdoing in the Eurobonds scandal.

Readers of previous posts will know that Von Wolfswinkle, a banker from a family of bankers, was put into the European Central Bank to maintain strict financial discipline and prevent the sharing of European debt through the issue of Eurobonds. I only know about any of this because my wife, Caroline, met Von Wolfswinkle and some of his ECB chums when she was working in Frankfurt. However, as you will see from the statement below, Von Wolfswinkle wishes to distance himself from the account I created from my wife's emails and my own trip to the Copenhagen economic summit.

'I, Herbert von Wolfswinkle, am issuing a statement today in response to the appearance of an ebook, Shameless Ambition by Robert Fanshaw, published by Steam eReads of Australia. My advisers debated whether I should lend credence to such an obvious fabrication by issuing a statement. However, I believe a swift denial of all impropriety will uphold the reputation of the ECB and banking in general. I must make it clear that I have no involvement any longer with the ECB or with the Bank of Wolfswinkle, as I am now engaged in a two year project with the IMF.

I must also make it clear that I have no argument with Caroline Fanshaw. She is a fine, intelligent and yes, it is true, beautiful woman, who understands the complexities of European finance and the burdens of office better than any woman I know. With the exception, of course, of my wife Francine, who after careful consideration is standing beside me at this difficult time, as she has stood beside me at times like this over the past 20 years (though not always in the intervening periods when her life in Paris has kept her occupied).

Firstly, the photographs I took of Caroline were in the context of a lifelong hobby, where architecture, design, and the female body have formed the themes of my amateurish compositions. I never used the photographs for the purpose suggested by the book.

Secondly, there is no shadowy old bankers network which admits only trusted individuals and engages in excessive behaviour. There is not one shredded piece of evidence because such organisations do not have a paper trail.

Thirdly, whilst I do not deny the CCTV pictures of me entering The Mermaid Club in Copenhagen, there is a perfectly innocent explanation. There was enormous pressure from the financial press on members our committee before the Eurobonds report was published. We could not afford our recommendations to be leaked before the summit. So we met in the one place where no journalist would expect to find us, on the top floor of a private sex club. There were no leaks, so I believe the decision was justified. Also, Francine was there too, to make sure there was no funny business.

To re-iterate, there are no hard feelings towards Caroline, and to prove this I am offering now to buy her dinner next time she is New York.'

You may wish to make you own mind up:

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

May Day, May Day

I thought it might be the day on which our relationship crashed and burned. I had given Melody Bigger until the end of April to withdraw her allegations about my wife, Caroline. I have received no such assurances, so Steam eReads have been told to press the button.

Shameless Ambition  is therefore available on Amazon, giving the correct version of events. Here is the link:

Or for people using quaint old British Pounds,
Last week, when I told Caroline I thought this would happen her reaction was to put her fingers in her ears and go "la-la-la." I took this as a sign that she did not want to discuss the matter further. So yesterday I was dreading giving her the news that her involvement with the Eurobonds scandal would be made public. I wasn't sure how to raise the issue again, but she needed to know about publication in case any of her colleagues recognised her on the cover.

Rather than send a text, I waited until she got home from work. Fortunately, I had some good news for her as well.
"Caroline, your wine's arrived." I had placed the large cardboard box on the kitchen counter. Rather appropriate, I thought, because it was boldly advertised as being from Naked Wines.
"Great," said Caroline. "You're in for a treat."

At these words, my mind wandered where it usually goes when Caroline says that. Caroline slit open the box with a kitchen knife, waving the knife dangerously whilst she described a problem she'd been having with Paul Larkins, the head of HR. She unslotted a bottle of Jen Pfeiffer Rock it Like a Redhead The Rebel, Cabernet Sauvignon 2012.

While she was pouring I said, "Caroline, I've got something to tell you."
Caroline put on a disappointed face. "You haven't been stopping off at Antonia's on the way home again, have you?"
"Nothing like that. It's the book. It's been published."
Caroline sipped her wine and sighed contentedly. "You really are in for a treat. What book?"
"The book about Melody's plot to change economic policy and your involvement with the bankers and politicians."
"Well I'm very pleased for you, dear. Just don't expect me to read it."

Who are these people?

The world is divided into voyeurs and exhibitionists... It takes one of each to make a good marriage.

Robert and Caroline Fanshaw are an ambitious young couple trying to make their way in a complex world.

What happens when their private affairs collide with world events and the big issues of our times? Drama, comedy and x-rated scenes.