Once upon a time, at the beginning at the 21st Century there was a powerful and secretive man. Let us call him Mr Malum. As this is a fairy story you will probably ask if he’s a good fairy or a bad fairy. Well let us consider it. If you read the description of himself that he published in a business journal, you would think he was the best of good fairies, for he comes across as the epitomy of philanthropic human kindness, a man devoted to persuading the very rich to give money to charities. However, if you study his company reports, you will see quite another creature behind the mask. The job he actually does is to advise the mega rich on how to avoid paying income tax in any of the countries where they trade, and to put possible new business opportunities their way whenever he finds them. In short he’s a man with an eye to the main chance.
Three years ago an interesting property came onto the market. It had once been the home of one of our most famous poets but that wasn’t what interested our Mr Malum. What interested him was a) that it stood in a plot of land that was ripe for development and b) that the small literary society that was struggling to get the money together to buy it had a shortfall of nearly £400,000.
Mr Malum picked up his magic wand and contacted one of his most wealthy clients who was looking to enter into the world of property development. Between them they thought up an almost foolproof plan. The client, whom we shall call Mr Moneybags, would hand the necessary £400,000 over to the charity (such a sum was chicken feed to him) and Mr Malum would start the next stage of the procedure.
First he set up a private trust company naming himself as managing director. Then he contacted the chairman of the literary society whom we will call Mr Gullible and told him that he had a donor ready to help him and that the whole process of buying the property would be easier if it were done by a small charitable trust rather than by the society he chaired, because their activities were under scrutiny by several unpaid but very well meaning trustees. Mr Gullible was warned that the donor wished to remain anonymous and that nothing should be done to disturb his anonymity. The new trust was duly set up with three members, it was the easiest thing in the world as it was already up and running and directed by Mr Malum who simply stood down as director and handed over to the new three man team. The property was brought, there was rejoicing in the village where it stood and a happy ending seemed to have been reached. But that is not the way of fairy stories.
Little did we know.
For a start, the property was in bad repair and the three man trust didn’t have sufficient money to repair it immediately, which was a little difficult for them because they were beginning to come under pressure from a small, local group which had been raising money towards the sale price. It was led by a passionate, young woman who wanted the property to be open for artists, musicians and poets and rather fancied herself as a patron of the arts. Let us call her Ms Patrona. After a little while, she and her friends were beginning to be something of a nuisance to the three man team and who did they turn to for assistance? Yes you’ve guessed it. Mr Malum.
Mr Malum being the magical and powerful figure he is, with an ability to pull any number of strings simultaneously, got in touch with the local council. His advice to them was suave and sound. Ms Patrona wanted to be a patron of the arts. Very well then, rent her a property in the nearby town and give her so much work to do running it that she wouldn’t have time to worry about anything else. Simple. But of course as Mr Malum was careful to point out such generosity would come with conditions and in her case the condition would be that she would not do anything public in opposition to Mr Gullible and his three man team. The deed was done and her silence was ensured. At that point, surprise, surprise, the three man team broke the news to the general public that part of the property was going to be pulled down and a beautiful new, state of the art, half a million pound building erected on the site. Well, well, well.
Time for the good fairy I think. And yes there is one. It is a small, insignificant, white plant that glows in the dark. Mr Malum noticed it on one occasion when he was inspecting the garden and told the gardener to get rid of it. The gardener didn’t obey him for he knew the value of plants and especially of this one. It is called Veritas.