I hear from my mole in the Big House at the end of The Mall, that HM Queen Elizabeth II requires 50 hats a year for official business. Jumping out of helicopters with James Bond to open the Olympics and so on. For more formal occasions, she wears either a crown or a tiara, of which there is an amazing, ready-made stock to call on. Each of the hat-hats costs an astonishing £1000, so simple maths give us an eyewatering hat budget.
We know that the tiaras and crowns, largely made up of gigantic rocks given to The Firm over many years by fawning acolytes or nicked from the Tsars by Queen Mary, are kept in London. Queen Mary’s theft was easy as the gigantic steamer trunk stuffed with the Imperial Russian goodies was given to her for safe keeping whilst the matter of the Revolution was sorted out. Her avarice would have reduced Adephagia to tears of envy and despair.
So that great socialist, Balzac, was perhaps right when he said that all great fortunes derive from great crimes?
Anyway, I’d love to know if HM’s hats are stored in Guernsey. I sincerely hope that this puzzles you. For an answer, you’ll need to read on.
Madam told me that the bank had called and asked to see us about the toxic byproduct of my work, i.e., money. An appointment is made and I carefully rehearse defensive mentalconjuring tricks. We turn up, are shown into the Board Room. Coffee is served. Our usual man comes in, beaming and relaxed, together with a very beautiful lady introduced as our new Special Account Manager. I am utterly bowled over by this lady, with her impeccable grooming and blinding, dazzling white smile. Even teeth—an orthodontist’s dream.
We rattle through the business in hand. I find it hard to concentrate as I’m totally mesmerised by the apparition on the other side of the table. Madam tells me that all I did was smile and nod and, every now and then, remembered to close my open, drooling, gaga-like mouth. We agree that the next meeting will be over a casual yet structured lunch where the bankers, no doubt, will exude the natural bonhomie of people charging hourly fees whilst simultaneously enjoying a monstrously expensive feast with stratospherically expensive wines.
On the drive home, I admitted to Madam that I had a gigantic crush on this new person who was to help guide us through the money maze in the next years. “Yes,” she replied, “that was obvious. But didn’t you notice anything?”
“Well, she was very beautiful.”
“She seemed extremely knowledgeable about the subject matter.”
“Of course, but what else?”
“Er, her hands. Quite beautiful.”
“And…?” “Er, well…”
“She was 9 months pregnant.”
“Oh really? I didn’t notice.”
“Clearly not. You seemed to have quite ditched Aristotle’s principles of Prudence, Virtue, and Temperance serving the common good. The only service you were thinking of was for yourself.”
Continuing her literary theme, Madam reminded me of Thomas More’s “He travels best that knows when to return.” I suspect that this might have been a vague reference to my fantasy about the bank lady, or my fondness for wine, but it’s so long since I’ve been on a nasty that I’ve quite forgotten what it feels like. Ecstasy, I suppose, standing outside oneself looking in? It’s certainly several months since I’ve lunched only on emotion-enhancing champagne.
As it transpired, part of the lunch discussion, aside from the tough decision of whether it should be the ‘86 or ‘82 Lafite, was on the vexing issue of tax. Did I really want to go into a 70/30% tax partnership with one or more governments? (They take 70%, leaving me 30%).
If, theoretically, you are taxed at 44% but take income as dividend and your business is registered outside Switzerland, four-fifths of the dividend are tax free. So you pay 44% on the remaining fifth, hence a marginal top rate of 8.8%. If you live in Geneva but by a feat of teleportation are based in, say, Guernsey, well this is apparently so. At least I think so. You’ll need to see the stunningly glamorous lady at the bank to verify this. She may also know something to your advantage about hat storage. You’ll need to ask. And all this in the pursuit of excellence.