Chapter 8: Wall Street Blues and the Global Financial Crisis
NEW YORK! The heart of the global stock market!
“Oh, so that’s where New York is,” said Straw Puppy as we got off the Greyhound bus from California.
Our gang of goons helped us storm into the Flatiron building near Times Square.
“We’ve come to float our company on the stock exchange!” we shouted.
“This is a publishing company!” the confused editors shouted back.
“Sorry! We got our chapters mixed up!” we shouted again.
“Been there, done that!” shouted the editors.
Just then the Global Financial Crisis happened and the stock market crashed all around us. We sold our polo necks for tickets for a tramp steamer home to England.
As the ship sailed out past the Statue of Libertines, Straw Puppy and I stood on the deck and waved farewell to America. We had done our utmost to drag that nation into the twenty-second century but our vision was just too raw, too real, too commanding for the good old You Ess of Ay. But as the old saying goes “If you can’t change the country you are in, then you should change the country you are in.” Which I didn’t get at first but then Straw Puppy explained it to me. He drew a diagram and to be honest I still don’t get it.
Britain beckoned us. Blighty, that Sceptred Isle, that sling and arrow of outrageous fortune, home. Soon we saw the White Cliffs of Dover or at least that’s what we assumed they were but everybody else was shouting “ICE BERG!” Before you could shout “man the life boats” the ship was sinking and Celine Dion was singing and everything was becoming very confusing.
Chapter 7: The Epoch of Disruption – The Silicon Valley Years
Clad in a black polo neck I strode onto the stage to a round of applause. The audience was full of tech-heads, journalists and people with far more money than sense. I swaggered to a podium with all the nonchalance of a cat who knows that he holds in his head a vision of the future.
“Welcome to sTrawCat Product Release Symposium 20XX,” I said carefully pronouncing the ‘XX’. I practically sneered at the auditorium. “You’ll not that we no longer use the last two digits of the year. Our bold vision has deprecated that feature from dates, an initiative that you will all soon be adopting as none of our products are compatible with the now defunct standard.”
The applause was deafening.
“But what is it that your company actually does?” asked one frankly unvisionary journalist. I wrinkled my nose at him and had security out of the building.
“THAT WAS LAST YEAR’S PARADIGM!” I shouted to the departing hack.”stRawcAt has moved beyond being a company that ‘does’. We are now a company THAT IS!”
The roar of the crowd was even more deafening before. Which was great for my ego but not so good for my persistent tinnitus.
“We’ve made it!” said Straw Puppy.
“Yes, who would have thought that we could establish a global technology company that consists of nothing but two pairs of polo neck shirts and a gang of goons!” I said.
The next step was inevitable. We would float strAwcaT on the NASDUQ Index thingy!
LONDON! The heart of the world of publishing. It was here that I would build my empire! I immediately set off to the zoo to visit the penguins. Strangely, they were untalkative and showed no sign of controlling a vast business of iconic paperbacks. They mainly waddled around an enclosure with excellent views of Regent Park.
“They are Humboldt penguins,” said Straw Puppy reading the helpful sign. “I imagined they would have more typewriters,” I observed. “They have a slush pile,” said Straw Puppy. “Is that what that is?” I said as the smell of fish wafted towards us. I decided we needed a new plan.
NEW YORK! The other heart of the world of publishing! Manhattan awaited us!
“Damn,” said Straw Puppy as he perused the Tube Map, “New York isn’t on the District Line.” “We’ll have to catch a bus,” I concluded. Yet after several days hopping on and off random buses, we never once found ourselves in New York. We did visit Catford though and saw the shopping centre that had a big cat on it. Which was great.
PARIS! The other, other heart of the world of publishing! Sadly, this was off limits due to an outbreak of my profound europhobia caused by reading far too many copies of The Daily Mail.
MUMBAI! The heart of India’s film industry! After an accident with a shipping container, Straw Puppy and I found ourselves in the midst of Bollywood. The singing! The dancing! The riot of colours and costumes! Fun though it was, our short-lived career in the movies was getting us no closer to founding a publishing empire. We put aside our most excellent fake mustaches and decided to return to London by the first available shipping container. There would be other choices than a brand like Penguin we decided. “There’s Club Biscuits,” I noted.
SAN FRANCISCO! The heart of America’s Tech industry or at least not far from the heart of America’s tech industry. “Did we get in the wrong shipping container?” asked Straw Puppy. He was right — we were in the famous City of Angels now or rather the City of Angels Called Frank.
A reader asks “In my earlier letter what I meant by “pyramid selling scheme” was a complex Ponzi-like scam by which various goods are sold mainly as a pretext to recruit new members to the scheme, the recruitment of which is the actual main source of money in the scheme and NOT a scheme by which a person literally sells pyramids. When I suggested to my friend that she should sell prisms instead (as per your advice) she assumed I was mocking her. She has now terminated our friendship and regards me as her mortal enemy. We have since become embroiled in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse as her hatred of me and lack of financial success in the pyramid selling scheme has led down a dark path of spiralling violence. The good news is that her new business “Prim’s Pricey Prisms” has actually started to make money. I’m hoping that may help her out of her psychological rut but in the meantime she has me trapped inside a giant and deadly maze where I am chased by robot mice. Do you have any tips for escaping a maze?” Key Eops
I’ve visited several hedge mazes in this current time period and I have never found them to be much of a challenge. What can’t be eaten can be stomped upon. Here’s how I would escape a more substantially built maze:
pick a direction
get a good run up
headbutt the wall
repeat until the wall collapses.
A reader asks “Thanks for the help with my homework. My history teacher was late marking it. Apparently she broke up with her boyfriend and then tried to fly to Australia in a hot air balloon. Apparently she got back recently because she posted back my essay. My mark says “Help, I’ve been trapped in a death maze!” Is that a good mark or a bad mark, I can’t tell?” Archie Duke
Hi Archie. Thanks for the update! I think that must be an excellent mark because if anybody knows history it is me! There’s not much of history that I haven’t seen in my travels, including some that hasn’t happened yet!
Our first novel together was a great success and was widely acclaimed by all the people we showed it to.
“We should write another one.” said Straw Puppy.
“Yes, let’s!” I said.
But it took a lot longer to write a second one and in the afternoon we went out to steal chips from passers by.
The next day we dressed as pigeons and at handsomely in Trafalgar Square as we were fed by short sighted tourists. The day after that we wrote another novel. We had managed two whole novels in less than a week and also had made pigeon costumes. We were productivity demons!
A back of the envelope calculation revealed to me that at this rate we could soon write more novels than were in the average book store or maybe even two book stores as we wouldn’t need to make pigeon costumes repeatedly.
“I” I announced, “have unlocked the secret of publishing.” “Let’s take over the world,” said Straw Puppy, “then set it on fire.”
A reader asks “I need some more relationship advice Susan. I stopped dating my boyfriend (the family of opossums that was living in a pile of discarded clothes) and met a great new guy. He’s actually an emu in a bowler hat but he’s been very upfront about all that. He wants me to meet his family but that mean flying all the way to Australia. I thought emus were flightless birds so now I think he might have been lying all this time about being an emu. I’m not sure what to do. Can you help?” – Marsha Supial
“Flightless” here means “unable to power their own flight”. Emu’s can fly if they stand in the basket of a hot air balloon. Indeed they positively LOVE this mode of transport. Think about how romantic a hot air balloon trip would be with your emu boyfriend all the way to Australia. Bon voyage!