Saturday, 5 December 2015

CLOWN, COMIC, CONMAN

The Honourable Frederick Fergus Fintan Fuddpucker, Minister of Finance

A sample read from The Life and Times of Freddie Fuddpucker by Peter Blakeborough

After a year as chief executive of Global Finance, Freddie Fuddpucker started looking for a new opportunity. It just didn’t feel right to spend so much time in one job. Apart from that the auditors had gone on a global hunt for the money that Fuddpucker had managed.
Freddie was cleaning out his desk at Global Finance when the Leader of the Opposition called on the phone.
‘Hello. Is that Freddie Fuddpucker?’
The Life and Times of Freddie Fuddpucker
‘Speaking.’
‘This is Con Blowhard, Leader of the Opposition...’
‘Nice to hear from you, Con. If you’ve got money to invest, I can channel it straight through to a Swiss bank account, totally confidential, tracks covered, no questions asked.’
‘No, no. It’s not about that, but it’s nice to know for the future. This is about the election and how fast it’s coming together for us – and how fast it’s falling apart for the other crowd. We’re going to be in government before you can say Mr. Speaker.’
‘So you need campaign finance?’
‘No, no. It’s not about that, but it would be nice if you could arrange something. You know, through a Swiss bank account, totally confidential and, tracks covered, no questions asked. If we need anything, I’ll send someone around with a brown paper bag.’
‘Anytime, Con.’
‘The reason I’m calling, Freddie, is because your name came up recently as the best finance whiz in the country and we want you in the team as the finance spokesman.’
‘I’m not surprised you’ve called, Con, and I can thoroughly recommend myself for the post. As you no doubt already know, I’ve got a wealth of experience advising people like the Pope, Kentucky Fried Chicken, the inspector of air accidents as well as numerous learned judges, bankers, undertakers and debt collectors.’
‘Excellent, Freddie. That’s what I’d heard. Now, I need a man who can put together an emergency economic stimulus package. This crowd has made such a shambles of the economy that we’re going to have to bring down a budget as soon as we’re sworn in. Can you handle it, Freddie?’
‘Con, my friend, you won’t have to con them. I’ll do that for you. No-one knows better than me how it’s made round to go round, as they say.’
Two months later Blowhard’s Wind Party was swept to power and the new Minister of Finance was the Honorable Frederick Fergus Fintan Fuddpucker. After the swearing-in, Fuddpucker was interviewed on television.
The Author
‘During the election campaign you promised an emergency economic stimulus package to get the economy going again,’ the interviewer began. ‘Can you tell us how that will work?’
‘Yeah, sure. The package will be made up of money that the Government will give to taxpayers to spend.’
‘Where will the money come from?’
‘Well that’s a daft question. It will come from the taxpayers of course.’
‘Now let me get this right. So the government will be giving the taxpayers their own money back?’
‘Yes. No. Not all of it.’
‘So the government will be giving the taxpayers only some of their money back?’
‘Yes, that’s right, and only some taxpayers.’
‘Can we just clarify this? Which taxpayers will not get anything back?’
‘That’s easy. The ones that didn’t vote for us . . .  Ah cancel that. Make it the ones that didn’t vote for anyone. Cancel that too. Is this program live?’
‘This program is always live, Minister.’
‘There won’t be anything going back to the ones that don’t want it back. I knew there was an answer. I just couldn’t remember which hand I’d written it on.’
‘But surely there won’t be many who won’t want it back?’
‘Naturally. My point exactly.’
‘Thank you, Minister. Now, if we could just get back to the emergency economic stimulus package. What is the purpose of the package?’
‘Jesus! This is getting tedious. It’s the EESP; Emergency Economic Stimulus Package. It speaks for itself. It’s self-explanatory. How long have you been doing these interviews?’
‘A bit longer than the ten minutes that you’ve been in your job. And, if you don’t mind, Minister, I’ll ask the questions.’
‘I thought that was the purpose of the interview and if I can give you a word of advice, young man, I think you should turn off some of these bloody awful lights. Don’t you know there’s a power shortage?’
‘The question, Minister, could we get to the question?’
‘What question?’
‘What is the purpose of the package?’
‘Oh, that question. It’s to stimulate the economy. I thought we had covered that.’
‘Yes but how will it work?’
‘Like a sausage machine. We’ll only get out what we put in. It’ll just be dressed up to look better. People will get their own money back. It will feel good in the pocket and they’ll go out and spend it. I always explain economics in simple terms. Not everyone has the benefit of a university education. And this scheme is so simple it’s bloody brilliant, even if I say so myself.’
‘So I take it that you explain economics in simple terms because you think the voters are a bit simple?’
‘Oh, no. You can’t catch me with that one. Only the ones that didn’t vote for us, and as you know we got more votes than anyone else which means that the voters as a whole are more intelligent after the election than they were before and that means that by the time we’ve been in government for three years the voters will have learned so much more that university degrees will be as common as Wheeties cards and you really shouldn’t have asked me this question. By the way, what was the question?’
‘I think we’ve covered that one. But let’s get back to the stimulus package.’
‘Ah, yes, the stimulus package.’
‘So you want to stimulate consumer spending by giving people money to spend on cars, flat screen televisions, petrol, clothing and other consumer goods?’
‘Not specifically those items. No. You see if they buy cars and TVs the money will go to Japan. Petrol money will go to the Middle East and clothing money will go to China. Computer spending will finish up in India or Taiwan.’
‘That sounds a bit racist.’
‘That remark is totally uncalled for. I’d walk out of this interview right now if I’d finished my coffee. It’s not racist at all. I just want to keep the money here in New Zealand. Remember the package is to stimulate the New Zealand economy. Not economies of other countries.’
‘So what do you think people should spend their money on?’
‘Well, I’m sure a man of your intelligence can think of something.’
‘I’m asking you.’
‘Well, let’s see now. Well, what about going to some garage sales? There’s always a game or two of footy. The brewers are always crying into their beer about poor sales. Give them a hand up, I say. Get a local tattoo. Spend some money with the girls on K Road. Now you couldn’t get a better stimulus package than that.’
‘I have one more question for you, Minister. It’s about your career with Global Finance. I want to ask...’
‘No! I won’t allow that. You can’t raise a matter that’s before the court.’
‘In that case, thank you, Minister. I’m sure the voters now have a pretty good idea of what to expect from your government.’
‘Don’t mention it, young man. I’m always willing to explain anything that you don’t understand.’