"I'm Arthur Godley - Godley by name and Godly by nature. Take a seat, mate. I won't be long."
From behind his expansive desk, Arthur Godley glanced at his visitor.
"Not the sofa, mate. The chair is for ordinary visitors. "
Arthur Godley, proprietor of Godley's Garden Gnomes of Krupton straightened his red tie and pulled on the gold cuff links. The penchant for bright ties and driving with the window of his Bentley open so that everyone could hear Tom Jones singing about Delilah was legendary in Krupton.
"I understand you've come here to find out why they now call me God's gift to Krupton business."
His visitor sat down but said nothing.
"They are right of course." Godley said, wandering to the window of his office to look out, "But as I'm not sure how long you've got it's probably best if we watch my PowerPoint presentation. I show it to all those who want to know why I've succeeded where others have failed. If you know how to do it, mate, there are many ways of making it. You've either got it or you haven't. "
"I bought this place as a rundown old Victorian factory that was losing money making plastic garden gnomes. You've heard of the Gnomes of Zurich? Well I'm the Gnome of Krupton."
Godley laughed and stared at his visitor.
"You're looking at me," he said. "You are thinking no-one can make money out of plastic garden gnomes. But, as that old song says, 'It ain't what you do but the way that you do it.' That song could have been written for me. Another song is 'Happiness, Happiness.' You remember Ken Dodd? He sang it because he thought he'd got around the Inland Revenue. But it was a bit premature. He should have stuck to jokes and his tickling stick."
Arthur Godley nodded, winked and grinned all at the same time.
"But you know the secret of a successful business, mate? Diversification. The old red brick factory may be hidden out the back but it's actually the front - if you get my gist. Once I set up Godleys Investments things really took off. "
"You're very quiet. Perhaps you're just overawed," Godley went to look out of the window again.
"The scene wasn't always as good as this," he went on. "I may be a no nonsense businessman but I have a softer side you know. I'm a great follower of prehistoric things. I've got a book on dinosaurs at home. A few million years ago you would have seen dinosaurs out there beyond that brick wall. Big, hairy gorillas sat thumping their chests right where my desk is now. My book has a picture of a bloody great Tyrannosaurus Rex looking down on a frightened little creature that looks like it knows it's time is up. And, on the next page, the T Rex is standing on his hind legs, bellowing to the jungle with steam coming out of his mouth. I read that book a lot. There are a lot of pictures in it."
He turned to face his silent visitor.
"Just like that original God I started with a clean sheet. But I was luckier than him I suppose. I didn't have an unmarried couple with no clothes on hanging around looking for hand-outs. "
Godley laughed at his joke.
"But that old God was good at bullshit. There are people who still believe he heads up some big corporation from a fancy office floating somewhere up near the International Space Station? But you know his biggest problem? Overstaffed!
"And you can't run a business by being kind-hearted you know. Everyone needs a social conscience now and again. But not every day. "
Godley sat on his white, leather, swivel chair.
"Making stuff like plastic gnomes is for fools, mate. Godley's Garden Gnomes satisfies a whim but, as I always say, Godley's Investments feeds the greed."
His visitor still said nothing.
"So, how does Godley Investments work, I hear you ask," Godley said.
"Feed the greed! They all want presents for the kids, a car or a fridge or to pay off bloody loan sharks. So they ask Godley Investments. Never say no, that's me. You've got to have a kind heart. And no cheques you see. We can't have customers being embarrassed by questions about where cheques come from."
Godley stood up again.
"Would you like a drink?" He went to a drinks cabinet, returned with two large glasses of whisky, downed his own, returned for a refill and swallowed that as well.
"Time for the Power Point." He wiped his lips and then tried to switch on the system.
Surprisingly, his quiet visitor got up, walked over, took one of the leads, plugged it in and pressed a button that Godley had not seen.
"That's it," said Godley, "I knew it was that button. You press that switch when I say and, as if by magic, numbers and graphs that mostly point upwards will appear on that wall."
With that, Arthur Godley pointed at the blank white wall, took another drink and fell into his chair.
"OK, first slide," he said.
Then he stared disbelievingly at the wall.
"Well, fuck me. I've never seen that slide before?"
Godley found himself staring at a picture of what looked like a tropical rain forest that covered almost the entire wall. "And so bloody big!" he slurred.
As he poured himself another drink, a sound, like a cow mooing, came from somewhere near the wall. Then everything around him - his desk, the computer, the bottle of whisky - faded away as he felt transported into a dense, jungle of prehistoric trees and plants that moved in an invisible breeze. His Power Point had never done animation before. Godley also felt hot and sweaty as if the cold Krupton climate had changed to hot tropical.
He stared at the movement amongst the trees that now stretched in impressive 3D way beyond his office window and into the garden. It was as if the entire building had been moved into the middle of a hot, steamy, prehistoric jungle. Then he felt the floor shake as a huge green lizard standing as high as the office ceiling and with a huge mouth with row upon row of sharp pointed teeth emerged and began circling his desk looking down at him. Another dinosaur flapped overhead and dropped something liquid onto Godley's desk.
Godley shrieked and, as his knees trembled beneath his desk, his whole office went completely dark.
It was then that he heard the Voice.
"Arthur Smedley Godley?"
"Yes?" whimpered, Godley, hating the fact that someone knew his middle name.
"Arthur Smedley Godley. Listen to me. Do you know how much money you have made out of Godly Investments?"
Godley groped for his calculator in the darkness.
"Arthur Godley. I repeat. Do you know how much money you have made out of Godley Investments?"
"A few thousand quid I think," Godley said in a voice that, to him, sounded unusually embarrassed.
"Arthur Godley. Please don't tell lies."
"Well, maybe a million quid," said Godley.
"Let's call it three million, shall we?"
"Well, nearly," Godley admitted.
"Arthur Godley, are you familiar with online banking?"
"Yeh, I do a bit of that." Godley said to the blackness.
"Arthur Godley. Your computer screen will now light up."
Godley's world was suddenly lightened by a blue haze from his computer screen.
"Log in." said the Voice.
Godley tapped away at a few keys in the light from the screen.
"I've forgotten my Membership number." He tried.
"It's 37689014896,"said the voice. "Don't try my patience Godley."
"Sorry," said Godley.
"It now wants my PIN number."
" 9186,"said the Voice.
"How the fuck………?" said Godley.
"I hate swearing. Let's make it four million quid shall we Godley?" said the Voice.
"Bloody hell," said Godley and tapped in 9186."
"Now go to 'make a payment'" said the Voice.
"OK," said Godley.
"No, Godley. Not 'cancel standing order'. I said, go to 'make a payment'"
"Oh, yes," said Godley, "What next?"
"You will now see a name on the screen showing the account that the money is to be paid into," said the Voice. "What does it say, Godley?"
"It says Godley Investments - but that's me," said Godley.
"No longer," said the Voice.
"But you can't just pinch my trade name and bank account!" Godley shouted.
"Oh yes I can," said the Voice. "You'd already stolen it from someone else."
"No I didn't," shouted Godley. "I checked."
"You didn't check with me, Godley."
"Then who the fuck are you, you invisible bastard?"
"Language, Godley, language. I'm your Chief Executive. Click on 'complete transaction'."
"You can't just take me over," shouted Godley.
"Complete transaction, Godley. Now!"
Godley's finger trembled but he clicked and, as he did so his computer screen went black and he was in total darkness once more.
Silence now added to the darkness and, as Godley hated silences, he tried shouting, "What the fuck?" Then he panicked and tried to grope his way towards where he thought the door might be.
"Don't move, Godley," the Voice said from the darkness. "Listen to me."
"Thank you for inviting me to your office. It was enlightening but not unexpected. But I am getting fed up with having to deal with people like you. I've got enough to do in my own office but prefer to adopt a hands on approach if I have a slot in my diary."
"So who the fuck are you?" repeated a desperate Arthur Godley. He then added, "And where the fuck are you?"
"You call your organisation Godley Investments, Mr Godley, but who are you investing in?" asked the Voice.
"Bloody customers, of course." said Godley. "They want money and I give it to them. Give a bit, take a bit."
Another silence descended and Godley thought he heard the Voice sigh.
"Did you like the dinosaurs, Mr Godley? Did they remind you of anything?"
"My book," said Godley.
"Good! One valuable business skill is spotting an opening for the sales message. Would you say you recognised yourself, Mr Godley? Do you constantly circle around looking for the next victim to eat? Would you say you fly around scattering charity or do you mostly drop shit from a great height? What happened to the dinosaurs in your book, Mr Godley?"
Still in the darkness, Godley thought hard about it.
"They got taken over."
"That's it, Godley. The business model failed. An early mistake of mine."
"What are you talking about?" said Godley.
"Now you've also been taken over, Mr Godley. You can't just take on a company name, especially one called Godly Investments. You see, I already own the brand and the marketing and distribution rights. I started the business long before you. And where does it say in your Memorandum and Articles of Association that you can act as a banker, Mr Godley? You see I think you invest in Arthur Godley, whereas I invest in people. "
"So who the fuck are you?" Godley shrieked into the darkness, "And where has my five million quid gone?"
"Put it down as a tax free charitable donation, Mr Godley and I'll invest it. I have an Investor in People plaque in my reception. Also, I am not the Chief Executive of Godley Investments but the Chief Executive of Godly Investments. There is a subtle difference in the spelling as you will see if you check where you transferred the money. You win some and then you lose some, Mr Godley. Good Bye."
Without warning, Godley's office lights came on and he looked around him.
Everything was just as it had been before the visitor had arrived. Godley switched on his computer and went online to check his bank statement. Somehow, he had just transferred four million pounds to a firm called Godly Investments.
"Oh my God," Godley said and burst into tears.