I wear two hats when I write this blog of mine. First and foremost, I manage a small charity in a small Scottish town called Dumfries. Ours is a front door that opens onto the darker corners of the crumbling world that is Britain 2015. We hand out 5000 emergency food parcels a year in a town that is home to 50,000 souls. Then, as you can see from all of the book covers above, I am also a thriller writer. If you enjoy the blog, you might just enjoy the books. The link below takes you to the whole library in the Kindle store. They can be had for a couple of quid each.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019


I don't know about you, but every time I hear the words 'Brenda from Bristol' I feel a near overwhelming urge to put a brick through the tele. As soon as anyone utters words like 'election' or 'referendum', news reporters make like they have been thoroughly brain washed in some North Korean re-education camp.

The very second they hear the word 'election', they hit auto pilot and start prattling on about Brenda from bloody Bristol. "Ohhhhh! Well Brenda from Bristol won't be happy!"

Every sodding time.

I often wonder if things might have been rather different had the sainted Brenda not spoken her words of wisdom in a mildly comical West Country accent. What if she had been bog standard Surrey? I don't suppose the news room editors would have shown a shred of interest in her. What got their attention were dulcet tones which hinted at pasties and scrumpy and 'Ahha Jim lad!'

'I've got a brand new combine harvester and I'll give you the key...'

This is a new favourite when the news covers issues like Brexit or Indyref 2. Send some frantic wannabe reporter out onto the streets of some dismal back water where most of the shops are boarded up and get them to breathlessly interview a bunch of the usual suspects. Not surprisingly, if you pitch up on a high street in Barnsley or Clacton at two in the afternoon on a weekday, well you're not likely to catch hold of anyone who is actually in work. Instead, if a following wind is in your sails, you'll hook some miserable septugenarian racist who is on the brink of having a rant about too many nig nogs before a flustered wife gives him a sharp elbow in his dessicated ribs. Another favourite vox pop is the wild eyed, rattling heroin user who is hoping to extract a tenner in exchange for an in depth opinion on Brexit and the prospect of a free trade deal with Gabon.

Any normal human being doing a normal job is avoided like the plague. They are deemed to be far too boring. Every news editor in the land is frantically searching for the next Brenda.

Of course, most pieces will have a short clip from a business owner who is granted a few seconds to explain why bankrupcy is waiting around the corner. But thirty seconds is more than enough. Balance, right? At the end of the day, businessmen who actually know a bit about what they are talking about are just too boring. I mean, come on. It's the kind of thing which gets people to reach for the remote control and switch channels. No. We can't be having any of that rubbish. So instead we are provided with a constant diet of spitting mad racists on mobility scooters.

I am waiting in vain for some pundit to erupt in righteous rage at being told Brenda from Bristol won't be happy. It would be nice if they just let all the social niceties drop to the floor and scream at the top of their voice 'WHO GIVES A SHIT ABOUT BRENDA FROM BASTARDING BRISTOL!!!!'

Well. OK. Not so very likely. Not the kind of behaviour the BBC would tolerate.

They could maybe point out that Brenda from Bristol lives in a country where she has plenty of choices. If she feels there is too much politics in the air, then she is more than free to switch channels or do some knitting or read a boody book. Bristol is not living in Pol Pot's Cambodia where she might have been required to spend ten hours a day listening to political instruction and getting the soles of her feet smacked about with bamboo canes should she show so much as trace of boredom.

They could point out the simple truth that if Brenda doesn't want to take twenty minutes out of her busy schedule to go and caste her vote then she doesn't have to take twenty minutes out of her frantic schedule to go and cast her vote. It is up to her. She is more than welcome to join the 30% of her fellow citizens who don't bother. Free country, right?

The news could spend a few minutes digging out some archive footage to put Brenda's words into some kind of perspective. Like millions of South Africans queuing up for two days to cast their first vote, a vote Nelson Mandela paid for with thrity years of his life. They could show queues at polling stations in Poland and Hungary and Latvia and Romania in the years after the Berlin Wall came down. They could show the Alabama police beating the living daylights out of any black man or woman bold enough to try and cast a vote.

Last month they had a so called election in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It seems like lots of bad stuff went down as the Kabila regime cracked down hard on the people to make sure the result came out right. All the usual stuff. Murders. Beatings. Torture. We don't really know because the government in Kinshasa blacked everything out. No landlines. No mobile phones. No internet. No Facebook. No Twitter. No nothing. A vast curtain of blackness was thrown all the way from the Congo Delta in the west to the Mountains of the Moon in the east. A thousand miles worth of clampdown.

We're more than happy to wax lyrical about the wonders of democracy when we drop that very same democracy from 30,000 feet on Fallujah or Tripoli. But when it comes to democracy at home, it seems like things are rather different. All of a sudden the most important fact to consider is how Brenda from Bristol will feel about having an open polling station in the primary school at the bottom of her street.

It's beyond pathetic. It took us hundreds of years to reach the point when everyone over the age of 18 has the right to vote. A lot of people got themselves beaten to a pulp before this was the case. Do we ever hear the politicians who are supposed to work for us point this out? Not a chance. Instead they go along with the Brenda from Bristol nonsense and make out that giving people the chance to spend twenty minutes casting a vote is akin to asking them to do a twelve hour shift down a Colombian coal mine.

Once the pundits have run through their Brenda from Bristol speel, they will then move on to worried faces and warning about just how divisive allowing the great unwashed a chance to vote is going to be. My God, there will be marauding gangs of neo Nazis on every High St! And then they will go all pale and horrified at the memory of the near civil war that broke out all across Scotland in September 2014. Oh my God, the sheer horror of it. Burning cars and gun battles on Princes Street and Molotov cocktails in Aidrie.

Well. Jim Murphy was hit by an egg and........

For Christ's sake.

Is it too much to ask for a news reporter to utter a few simple words. Like these simple words.

'Let's face it. Asking people to vote is no big deal. It doesn't cost anything. It takes 20 minutes. The streets will not be set on fire. Oh, and by the way. Millions of people all over the world would give their eye teeth to get the chance. Sorry? What was that ...... Brenda? ... Brenda from Bristol? ... well she's just one grumpy old woman, right? I dare say she spends her days droning about more or less everything from never winning when she spends a fiver on scratch cards to the last episode of Coronation St.....'


That would be good.

Saturday, January 26, 2019



So here's a small selection of recently released facts which are worth scrutiny. You know. Sit back. Light up a cigarette if that is your thing. Allow a bigger picture to take shape. To emerge.

First up, this week's super rich stuff. Here are the bare, gold plated bones. As of last week, the curtain has been drawn back. 26 multi billionaires now own the same share of the world's wealth as the poorest four billion. Planet earth is now home to 2200 billionaires and their collective treasure trove goes up by $2.5 billion a day.

Yeah. I know. Regular readers will know this is familiar enough turf. A couple of years ago the same stats showed 85 individuals owned more than half the world. Now it's 26. I guess in a couple of years time it will be less than ten.

And sure, it sucks. Unless mankind finds a way to discover some collective sanity, the only outcome will be revolutions all the way from New York to Newport. And it won't be pretty. It never is.

But the stinking pile of rotting fish nature of these statistics hides a more subtle point. Think about it. If the super rich of the world are shovelling in $2.5 billion a day's worth of extra treasure, where are they going to stash their troves. Surely this must be boom time for London, the long preferred bolt hole for the world's bent politicians and organised crime bosses. Surely the cost of those mansions in Belgravia must be rising as fast as the cost of a box of value range corn flakes?

Well. Actually.....

Well actually, no it isn't. Over the last year, property prices in Belgravia, Mayfair and Kensington have fallen by 25%. It seems like the 0.1% are stashing their cash elsewhere. Ouch. I mean that's got to hurt. Maybe after all these years, London's three card trick ain't working any more. And if the dirty money of the world suddenly stops beating a path to London's door, then what is actually left?

When Britain lost 90% of its Empire in the twenty years after the end of the war, those cunning boys of the City of London were quick on their well shod feed. They replaced a hard Empire with a new virtual Empire which needed neither soldiers nor gunboats to achieve it's ends. They created a place called 'Off Shore'. An archipeligo of treasure islands dotted around the world. 

Once upon a time to reap the benefits of an oil field in Nigeria, we would have boots on the ground and gunships in the bay to oversee the looting. In the virtual reality of the offshore world, such costly unpleasantness was no longer required. Instead all that was required was the right kind of good old boy from the right kind of school to pay a nice fat bribe to some local type, an lo and behold, all the profits came to us anyway. To the City. To Jersey. To the British Virgin Isles. And the local type in question would be shown a red carpeted road all the way to a nice multi million pound pad in Hampstead or Chelsea and never mind the nicities of the immigration paper work. A few billion quid earns you the absolute right not to have to do the paperwork.

Well, obviously.

And it has worked very nicely thank you for a good six decades. Until all of a sudden it seems to have stopped working. And the gilded mansions are dropping in price as quickly as a twenty four tonne load of fresh prawns stuck in a sixty mile traffic jam in Kent.

Attracting the dirty money of the world was enough to keep England afloat for over half a century. When you have all those tens of billions beating a path to your door, well, why bother with vulgar things like factories and coal mines and ship yards. The idea of industry was deemed to be so last century, no line of work for good chaps from good schools looking to make a quick buck.

But there's a pretty big problem with all this malarky. Basically the English economy is little more than a huge Ponzi scheme. So long as the cash pours in, all is tickety boo. No need for factories and all the boring stuff. Who needs to make money when you can provide a home for money other people have stolen? 

So long as they keep on bringing their cash..

What happens when they move on to pastures new? A 25% drop in house prices at the top end of the market, that's what happens.

In the post colonial era, the UK has relied on two areas of the country to raise the cash to pay all the bills. London and the South East of Enland have surfed the dirty money wave for all it's worth and imported millions of wide eyed Europeans to do the jobs any self respecting south easterner wouldn't go near. You know. Teaching and road sweeing and bin collecting and coffee serving and nursing.

And the other area? Us, of course. Scotland. The oldest cash cow of them all, and no matter how hard London has tried, it has never managed to do an India and rob us right down to the light sockets. We still generate lots of cash by doing real stuff. You know. Whisky and wind power and timber and beef and oil and prawns. We actually still do the exporting thing. Which probably explains why house prices in Edinburgh have gone up by 10% while Kensington has hit the bricks.

More to the point, we haven't gone down the road of blaming immigrants for everything. People with different languages and skin colours kind of like bringing their talents to Scotland. They find themselves welcome and appreciated as opposed to being told to fuck off home.

All of which brings me to fact number two. A Channel 4 news piece from a food distribution centre in the South East somewhere. An Indian owner with the world on his shoulders. He points to a forty foot container. Two years ago it would cost him £400 to ship the container from A to B. Now? Now it is £800. And why? Because nobody can find enough people to make it happen. Fork lift drivers and HGV guys and clerks in the office. He has a bunch of vacancies and no applicants. Why? Many of his European workers have heeded the word on the street and duly 'fucked off home'. Leaving no bugger willing to do the work.

Both of these completely unrelated facts tell the same kind of tale. The London con trick is unravelling by the day. The super rich are parking their money elsewhere whilst the aspiring poor are doing much the same with their ambition and energy. Net result? Violent crime up 20%. Prisons turning into Mad Max and A&E looking like something out of Vietnam. And every piece of bad evening news is prefaced with the words ' England and Wales.'

So what of the man on the street? What is his or her reaction to this grinding deline into Christ knows what?

Well we see it on the news every night. Blame it all on Brussels and immigrants and treacherous bastards guilty of the crime of being young and smart. Across great swathes of England, the Brexit lemmings are starting jump and jive on the top of the cliff. When in doubt, scream 'Fuck you' at the top of your voice. All of sudden we seem to be hearing a lot about the good old days when we came out on the winning side of world wars. Who gives a shit if things get bad? Bring it on. Eating whale meat is a price worth paying so long as it wipes the smiles of the faces of all those young people with their fancy coffees and their Nig Nog friends.

And Germany is the bad guy again. Retro, or what!

The polls are telling a story which is impossible to ignore. The English are losing the plot and starting to yearn for a return to Spitfires in the sky and white faces in the corner shop. And if that means burning everything down, then fuck it, let it burn......

The English are starting to look a lot like the mate who always gets into a scrap once they get pissed. You know the type. We all know someone like that. And eventually you have to start ignoring their Friday night calls. Not worth the hassle. Oh, they are right as rain where they're sober... But once they get a few pints down their neck..... Nah. Not worth it. Best avoided.

Thankfully the rest of the world can see the difference. They can see clearly enough we Scots are not going down the road of Spitfires and hating Germans and brown people. We have their sympathy. And they wonder why on earth we don't just cut the cord and get ourselves as far from the demented cliff edge lemmings as we can.

And you know what? They're absolutely right.

Thursday, January 17, 2019


Right now, at this very minute, as my cold fingers produce these words, thousands of desperate souls are setting out on a journey most of us cannot begin to comprehend.

They are gathered in dusty courtyards in the desert city of Agadez in Niger. I was there in 1980 when the world was unrecognisable from the world today. I remember a place of one storey buildings and the first trees I had seen in weeks. We had crossed the Sahara from north to south and Agadez was the town when mankind finally was able to find a toehold. There were bored soldiers and the relics of the French Empire. A dilapidated old colonial club with no electricity, beer as warm as tea and a swimming pool filled with thousands of tiny frogs. In the morning the cries from the minarets were haunting in the oven warm air of the dawn. By the mid afternoon, it was too hot to walk fifty yards.

And my lasting memory? The crumbling toilets in the old colonial club. My eyes catching sight of something dangerous. A shaven head and a fierce pair of eyes. Burned brown skin and raggedy clothes. My half pissed brain started to sober up fast. Fight of flight........

And then I was suddenly frozen to the spot. The danger wasn't danger after all. The danger was a mirror. My first mirror in six weeks. The eyes staring back at me were none other than my own. Different eyes in a different me.

Agadez was the end of our journey across the burning vastness of the desert. Today it is the beginning of the journey north for the thousands who are willing to cash in their every chip to put their lives on the line for the chance of a life worth living.

Agadez means a place in the back of a Toyota 4x4 to dodge the soldiers and head out into the oven baked Saharan emptiness. And then, if a slow death of thirst is avoided? Then it is the lawless anarchy of the failed state which goes by the name of Libya. Warlords and people traffickers and the Italian Mafia. A spot on a dingy and a desperate bid for the shores of Southern Europe.

And then? Maybe weeks and months and years in an internment camp. Maybe the long slog north all the way to a tented village in the woods outside Calais or Dunkirk.

And then? A place in the back of a truck. A dingy on the cold, black waves of the Channel.

And then? A life off the grid. A sweat shop and a pound an hour. If that. Or worse.

We aren't all that happy at the the moment with the way things are going on these cold, rainy islands of ours. We're sick of the austerity and the inequality and the complete and utter lack of any kind of acceptable government. We're sick of the potholes in the roads and the boarded up shops on the high street. We're sick of hearing how many of us are eating care of foodbanks.

It is hard for us to imagine the kind of abject misery which drives all of those who are waiting in the heat and dust of Agadez to buy a place on the back of a Toyota 4x4 and the chance to play a desert version of Russian Roulette. It is hard to imagine our rainy islands as the promised land.

Not many make it. So many hurdles. The desert. The criminal gangs. The sea. Fortress Europe. Fortress Britain. The walls are high and mighty, no matter what the Trump-light hate mongers say

All of which maybe goes a little way to explaining the absolute joy which broke out in First Base two days ago. Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with struggle of the Samuel family. We have been helping them to keep body and soul together in the cold, dark reality of Teresa May's much vaunted Hostile Environment for over three years now.

For many years they have been hanging on by their fingernails. They didn't cross the desert and the sea to come here. They spent every last penny they had on plane tickets and a work visa. And for many years they worked and paid their taxes. John started school and Dami finished school. They assumed they would be allowed to stay and work. They were wrong. After six years, the Home Office said thanks but no thanks. No more work visa. No more right to stay here. No more nothing. Time to pack your bags. Time to leave. We don't want the likes of you any more.

Then they made the smartest move of their lives. A bus ticket to the sanctuary of Scotland, a place where the BNP and Tommy Robinson don't even bother to try. They came to Dumfries and spent the last of their cash on a deposit and a month's worth of rent. And then all they had left was a wing and a prayer and a referral to a place called First Base who provide food to people who had no food. A place where the rules of Theresa May's hostile envionment don't apply.

Soon the town of Dumfries took the family to its heart, especially when their story hit the TV screens in the form of a BBC documentary called 'Breadline Kids'. No doubt thousands tuned in when the show was played live. More than a million have watched them on YouTube.

Soon the Scottish media were telling their story and hundreds of Scots were moved to donate money to the JustGiving page we had set up to keep the family afloat. The months flowed by and the Home Office hardened its approach. Every official letter threatened a return to mean streets of Lagos. Without family. Without funds. Without any kind of hope.

The Brexit vote empowered the newly minted Prime Minister to harden the Home Office into new depths of cruelty. Open racism spread through the streets of post-industrial England.

And to be honest, things looked pretty bleak. But thankfully the good folk of Dumfries never wavered. By hook or by crook, the community kept the family afloat. One by one, local politicians of every colour took up their cause. The Home Office disdainfully swatted away every entreaty from SNP and Labour MSP's. But when the newly elected Tory MP took up the family's torch, it made life a little more complicated for the hostile envronment merchants.

They overplayed their hand. They rejected the family's application for 'leave to remain' on bogus reasoning. They broke the law in black and white. On paper. In writing. They opened up a crack in the wall for the family's solicitors to ram a crow bar into.

I drove the family to Glasgow for a meeting with the solicitors fearing the worst. Instead they exuded genuine optimism. The Home Office had played arrogant hardball and set themselves up. And one thing hit me. The solicitor pointed out how lucky the family was to be in Scotland. To expose the mistakes of the Home Office required getting on for £2000 worth of legal fees. For a family living on fresh air, £2000 might as well have been £2 million. Had they been in England, they would have been doomed to a detention centre and a one way ticket to Lagos. Scotland provided legal aid and the keys to justice. Scotland offered the chance to fight the lawlessness of the Hostile Environment. Scotland had their backs.

And two days ago the news came through. They were granted to 'leave to remain in the United Kingdom'. They had finally arrived at the journey's end all the thousands of desperate souls in Agadez spend their every waking hour dreaming of.

They have made it. No detention centre. No return to the streets of Lagos where none of the local gangs would have believed in their being utterly penniless. Where the danger of John being kidnapped for ransom would have been of the 'clear and present' variety.

We have lots of bad days in First Base, but this was a good day. A day when for once we got the chance to enjoy a happy ending. The effort it has required to keep the family out of the clutches of the Home Office has been extraordinary. First Base has had to raise over £10,000 to pay their rent. Multiple Scottish newspaapers have fought their corner. Multiple MP's and MSP's have fought their corner. And the local community has never wavered. Not for a day. Not for a minute.

And now? Well the road ahead is still a long one. The family has made it to the end of the beginning. Their 'Leave to remain' is good for the next thirty months and then it must be renewed. Renewing will cost them £8000. After 5 years they will to find another £8000. And another £8000 after seven and a half years. And another £8000 after ten years. For ten years they will be eligible for no benefits other than access to the NHS. 'Leave to remain' means the right to work and pay taxes for the services everyone else uses. I guess over the coming decade they will send somewhere in the region of £50000 to the Treasury in the form of income tax and NI and VAT. Christiana will be a carer and Dami will become a midwife and John, well John might become more or less anything.

And then? Well after fifteen years and £80,000 worth of contributions, the family will finally arrive at their journey's end and be awarded their citizenship.

Hopefully when that day at last comes, the citizenship they will be awarded will be Scottish. For that is what they very much are now. Scottish and proud to be so. Proud and grateful and blessed to have become a part of the community which took them in and made them welcome.

And we should all be proud to. We should be proud of the road we Scots have chosen to travel. Proud to have resoundingly rejected the Farage poison.

Proud to be on the right side.

Saturday, January 12, 2019


Edward Bartholemew took a moment. A long moment.

He allowed himself a moment to sit back and take in the scene before him. It was certainly familiar enough. The panelled dining room had been familiar to him as far back as he could remember.

Lined up either side in front of him were his guests for the night. His comrades in arms. His partners in crime. His fellow travellers.

Two hours earlier, they had all been gleaming in their white tie and tails. Suited and booted. Dressed to kill. Now? Well, not so much. Ties were hanging loose and tailored jackets were carelessly tossed. The six white faces were brick red and shining. The four black faces were black and shining. The table was strewn with empty bottles. 

They were men in their prime and gone to seed at the same time. Their adbsurd collective wealth shouted itself from the rooftops in the form of ridiculously expensive formal wear and stretched waistbands.

He had travelled the longest road with three of them. All the way back to fourteen years old and the public school which had prepared them to lord it over an Empire which no longer existed. They had started out as the bullied and the buggered before completing a centuries old rite of passage to become bullies and buggerers themselves. Two more of the faces had joined his life at Oxford. Days of blind drunk vandalism in evening wear and the joys of designer dumb girls from the backwoods served up by the secretarial colleges. 

Five true blue Englishmen cut from the finest of cloth.

One Russian.

And four coal black men of the Dark Continent.

Christ. So many moons ago there were too many to count. And now they were all right here, right now. Red faced and loud in the midst of the ancient bricks and timbers of Bartholemew Hall.

Outside the window, the last gasp of the June sun was turning the rolling hills of Gloucestershire all kinds of crimsons and purples. Darkness was quietly swallowing his 1200 acres of fields and hedgerows.

Just like it had every night for nearly five hundred years.

And slowly his gaze came to rest on the portrait straight in front of him. Just like always. Just like when he was four and ten and twenty five and forty eight.

The founder of everything. The man who had first forged the silver spoon which had been passed from mouth to mouth over the rolling centuries.

He wasn't distracted by the frilly collar or the flowing wig. He was past that. Instead he stared deep into the long dead eyes of Issac Bartholemew.

For after all, here was the men who had changed everything. Issac had been a farmer of modest acreage and modest wealth. Comfortable enough, but a country mile from any kind of fast lane. Just about worthy of being called a squire.

And then the time had come when Issac had no otion but to choose a horse. Where should he hang his modest flag? With the King? Or with the upstart?

He chose Cromwell and the rest was history. His side won and he was duly rewarded with a tripling of his estate and bag of cash. And then he made his big move. The move which sent the Bartholemews of Gloucestershire all the way to the fast lane. He took his bag of cash and bet the whole lot on a quarter share in a slave ship headed out from Bristol to the Gold Coast.

His ship didn't succumb to either tropical storms or pirates. Instead it made it all the way to Barbados and back, and Issac duly doubled his pot of gold and he went on doubling it and doubling it again for the rest of his life. And so the train was set in motion.

Issac's son built Bartholemew Hall and aquired another 400 acres whilst at the same time riding the money making wave of the slave trade for all it was worth.

Issac's great grandson took a hundred years worth of accumulated wealth and used it to start up a bank under the family name. And for 250 years Bartholemews had plied a discreet trade from modest accommodation in the heart of the gilded square mile of the City of London.

Edward had taken up the seat of power at the age of 45 having learned the tricks of the family trade with all due diligence. 2003. Boom time. The New Labour love in with the City was running on full.

It was two years later when he had the chance to make like Issac and take his very own great leap forward.

One February morning. Grey outside. A thin rain. And a ten o'clock appointment vouched for by Digger Hyde-Barnes.

Nicky. Nicky short for Nicolai. Nicky, all dandied up by big bucks spent on Saville Row and exuding bucketloads of easy Russian charm. Nicky who had been a rising star of the KGB before the rotton roof of the Soviet Union had come crashing down. Nicky who had become the acceptable face of those who were pillaging Russia all the way down to the light sockets. Nicky who took a 1% commission to move the dark money into places of safety. Nicky who offered Bartholemews the key of the riches of the Wild East. Nicky who had done his homework on Edward Bartholemew who went by 'Fast Eddie' in the corridors and the boardrooms of the City.

It had been love at first sight. And the millions had rolled through Bartholemews to Jersey and the Isle of Man and all the way to the old slave islands of the Caribbean where Issac had built his fortune all the way back in the day.

Russian money enabled Bartholemews to glide easily through the Great Crash of 2007. And Nicky moved his gaze south to the dirty money of Africa.

By 2016, Fast Eddie Bartholemew was 56 and rich enough as to have no idea what he would ever spend his money on. And yet there was still an itch inside him. An itch for one last big move. One last big play.

And like a one, two from Mohammad Ali, it came to him. One. A conspiratorial Alex bursting with news hot off the Moscow presses. A tale so bizarre it was hard to believe. Contacts in the Kremlin. Polls from under the radar which made a 'Leave' vote look more than likely. The heft and  weight of the St Petersberg cyber kings thrown behind Farage and Johnson and their motley crew.


"For fuck's sake, Eddie. You ask me why? How can you ask me why? Your silly little country has 72 Trident missiles pointed at our cities. You think we like that? You think we're happy about that? Come on. Brexit will break Britain in half. Of course it will. What's there not to like? So why wouldn't we mobilise our army of unwashed, acne ridden geeks to nudge the Brexiters across the finish line"

Alex laid out the Kremlin's view of the long game. The UK was a fast aging country which had come to rely on cheap, free moving labour to keep the wheels turning. Could London even function without all those minimum wage cleaners and bin men and teachers and nurses living three to a room and sleeping in shifts? Could it fuck. And the Kremlin always played the long game better than anyone else.

So Fast Eddie bet 20% of the bank's net worth on shorting the pound in June 2016 and once again he won big. He won huge.

But that wasn't the thing. The thing came a few weeks later as the early Autumn sum made the ripening fields of Gloucestershire wheat a rolling sea of gold.

He was cracking a boiled egg when his eyes were caught by the stare of Issac Bartholemew from his place on the wall. And all of a sudden the pieces had fallen into place for his big play.

His huge play.

His very own long game. 

The biggest play any Bartholemew had made since Issac had hitched his wagon onto Cromwell's runnaway train.

Fast Eddie started making his plans to re-enter the old family business. A few days later, he punted his plans to Alex and all but popped the Muscovite's eyes out. And the Muscovite liked the plans. The Muscovite loved the plans.

In early 2017, a new company was quietly registered in the Brietish Virgin Isles and the ball was duly set rolling. A network of off shore connections umbically hooked the BVI mother to it's respectable offspring.

Dexter and Barnes London Plc.

Middle of the road. Unassuming. Reliable. Trustworthy. Laden with Directors of unimpeachable credentials. A balance sheet to make any accountant drool. MBE's and knighthoods littering the letterhead.

The best lobbying money could buy was duly engaged and ten years worth of patient drip, drip was delivered into the ears of Ministers of the Crown. And as the 2020's rolled by, Fast Eddie and Alex were proved right as almost every British institution started to fall apart due to lack of enough young people to make anything happen.

Not enough of anyone. Teachers and nurses and prison officers and bin men and fruit pickers and cleaners and coffee servers. The pound crashed, the economy fell into a permanant recession and Dexter and Barnes London Plc bided its time.

In 2031 the moment arrived. The House of Coomons voted by a majority of 234 to allow the importation of agency workers from all corners of the earth to clean the streets and pick the fruit for £2 per hour so long as they were housed in appropriate compounds and stayed for no longer than three years.

For years, Dexter and Barnes London Plc had been quietly buying up large, seemingly worthless post industrial properties at the rock bottom of the market. And now all the patient investment paid off as they exploded into life. They were first through the gates and then some.

Within two years, they had over a million Nigerians on tens of thousands of payrolls. Ten hours a day for £20 to send back home plus a dormitory bed and three meals per.

50p per hour commission for Dexter and Barnes London Plc. Half a million an hour. Five million a day. Clean and clear.

Within eighteen months the United States, Canada and Australia had followed London into the new, era and Dexter and Barnes London Plc was the market leader in every one. The EU fought to stay aloof until German pressure forced them into the club, and soon Dexter and Barnes London Plc ruled the roost all the way from the Med to the Baltic.

20 million Nigerians earning Dexter and Barnes London Plc £10 million an hour gross. Over £100 million a day.

More and more every day. And still they had a pool of 350 million Nigerians with an average age of 16 to fish in. 40 million souls? Piece of cake. 60 million? My dear chap, there's a queue at our door and the queue is a thousand miles long.

Fast Eddie and his guests had become the richest men in the world. They were the new masters of a new universe which had reverted back to old school rules.

Fast Eddie Bartholemew slowly rose to his feet wearing a trademark smile. He brought the old room to silence with a tapped spoon on a crystal glass.

"Gentlemen. Friends. It has been twenty years. The ride of our lives, don't you think? And here we all are. Older. Wiser. And a fucking site richer. So I would like you raise your glasses. A toast to my inspiration and my mentor. A toast to the man on the wall who set the ball rolling. Gentlemen, I give you our trailblazer. Issac Bartholemew. Gentlemen, I give you 'what goes around, comes around'."