‘Realising that we weren’t going to accept his unsatisfactory offer Jack Lang
informed me that my business plan was crap, my numbers were a joke and that if I
was ever going to make it in the business world I needed a finance person and he
was going to put me in touch with Michael Carter… Michael changed everything for
me forever. He taught me about money and how to use it.
Michael is a fairy godfather, favourite uncle and devil’s advocate all rolled
into one. He walks everywhere so consequently always arrives at his chosen
destination slightly out of breath and a bit hot.
He dresses like an accountant, predominantly M&S with comfortable
footwear, and sports a sixth form haircut. He doesn’t really enjoy small talk
but has a go anyway, which can make conversations with him stunted and not
pleasant. If you have something to say then fine, likewise if he has something
to say then that’s also fine. If you don’t have a point or anything
earth-shatteringly intriguing to convey then it’s best to remain silent; which
at first is awkward but, once you realise that’s how he likes it, it’s quite
Considerable effort goes into creating small talk and it’s a relief not to
have to engage in it. You don’t have to waste time thinking of banal things to
Gavin: ‘So, you’re going on holiday this summer?’
Gavin: ‘Ooh, that sounds fun.’
Gavin: ‘Er. Can you pass the salt?’
Gavin: ‘Any plans for Christmas?’
They say that there is a fine line between madness and genius and I suspect
that if I had to choose between the two, Michael flops slightly on the genius
side. He’s a hair’s breadth away from the former though. However, he has a knack
of explaining accountancy and making it understandable and in a very short time
everything that had previously been so daunting clicks into place. He helped me
make sense of the fiscal workings of a business and, without doubt, he is one of
my favourite people in the world and I hope to enjoy many quiet lunches in the
future with him, not talking.
More than anything I regret not making him rich. Twice.
So Michael arrives, hot, hair ruffled, out of breath and he sits in my office
and he looks around unfazed by the porn and pauses and says: ‘Right. Let’s get
you some money.’
So I tell him about my ideas.
1. Friends and family investors. Ruled out because you should never do
business with friends or family. Or people called Jack.
2. Big rich man who has £200k kicking about. Proving elusive.
3. Sell shares to the readers. This was my latest cunning plan. I had heard of a
football club who when faced with an empty bank account sold shares to those
investors they knew would be interested in their business. Their fans. What a
I thought the same thing might work for our readers. It was an expansion of
my friends and family idea except they were one step removed.
We had ten thousand subscribers. Most of whom were men, getting on a bit, got
a few bob, probably retired colonels, probably read Shares Magazine and I’m
betting would absolutely love the opportunity to acquire shares in the Erotic
Particularly if Rowan [Pelling] chairs the AGM. And they can get a photo of
the editorial team in their nighties at Christmas.
Michael absolutely loved this third option. ‘Only problem is,’ he says, ‘if
you do it now you’ll go to prison.’
Not wanting to go to prison (another close shave with incarceration in only a
few weeks) I pressed him further on this point. The only way I was going to get
my ‘sell readers shares’ caper off the ground was to set ourselves up as a PLC.
So, thrilled at the prospect of being finance director of the Erotic Review
PLC, Michael left the office to investigate what we had to do to get this off
Abridged extract from The Accidental Pornographer, © Gavin Griffiths, 2008,
published by Capstone (Wileyeurope.com)