On Tuesday I had to go on a day trip to Paris for a business meeting.
I sat in the TGV, all preparatory documents read and assimilated and looked around the buffet car at my fellow travellers, easily classifiable as students and business men, the extremes of scruffy and smart. I thought smugly that they would have trouble classifying me, but I definitely looked more student than business. Would they guess that I am an aging singer a bit down on her luck?
The meeting was somewhere rather obscure on the outskirts of Paris that took another hour and a half to get to, so I was happy to be early, because it seemed I would have to leave before the end of the meeting in order to catch my train home.
It was a meeting of investors, and rather vociferous very angry investors, judging by the paperwork, who have been in a legal wrangle for the last nine years with the company managing our investments. I was torn between amused anticipation at seeing the director of the company being thrown to the lions and anguish that I will never see my money again.
When I arrived the director was in deep conversation with a German gentleman who had him cornered. Some discreet eavesdropping revealed his concerns to be identical to mine so I jumped into the conversation in my tactful English way. This was 45 mins before the published start time of the meeting, so there was no sign of the other more combative investors. My new friend and I adopted a conciliatory approach, both with a view of trying to slide our money out discreetly before the fireworks started. After some big promises which we had trouble believing, we adjourned to a nearby bar to await the real start of the meeting and lied by implication about how wealthy we were. (Well I did… although I expect my lack of jewellery told its own story!)
We returned to the meeting which filled up with some serious jewellery and sharp suited notaires representing various thwarted interests. The director spent 30 minutes telling us what an enormous and successful company he had, how well it was managing our investments, and what a lot of money it had made over the last 9 years for him. Did he mean that they were so successful that they didn’t need to rip us off? Or was it because they had ripped us off they had made so much money? The entertainment began when one of the investors released her notaire and he pounced like a rottweiler let off the leash in an enclosed space. Insults were exchanged and I felt reluctant to leave while things were hotting up. At this point my new friend said that he would give me a lift to the station, so I settled back in my ringside seat. The director started to froth white foam at the mouth. I wondered whether it was Colgate or hydrophobia.
Eventually the director made some concessions and everyone ran out of insults. He pointed out that if everyone sold at the same time, the value would fall, and the jewellery and suits seemed placated. Rottweilers were put back on leads.
I left with my new friend and was driven to the station via the sights of Paris in his very comfortable car while he sung me an extract of the bonnie banks of loch lommond in a pleasant baritone.
The day ended on a high note..
4 days ago