MY extended social media strategy – a postcard in Tesco as well as the local garage and the local pub – continues to reap dividends. I get a call from a chap whose name sounds vaguely familiar. “Do you do reputation management?” he asks tentatively. Well, to be honest, I’ve no idea, but I’m not about to turn down work.
“Of course,” I lie. “How can I help you? What do you want to achieve?” (See, I’m learning.)
I go round to his house, an impressive gaff – all electric gates and stone greyhounds – and meet the man himself. He must be 70 at least, but has flowing, suspiciously yellow hair framing a sunbed orange face. He looks like someone’s transplanted the head of a Bee Gee onto the body of Albert Steptoe.
“You see,” he says, “in the 70s I was part of the music scene as a radio DJ. I wasn’t a big name, but did well enough. And I knew them all back in the day – Stewpot, Diddy, Batesey, Readie. All good lads and we had a great time, I can tell you. It was a big, non-stop party and the girls would literally throw themselves at you.
“The only thing is, we… err… “ He is rather sheepish now. “I didn’t always stop to ask to see a birth certificate.”
Ah. Stranger danger. Potential nonce alert.
“It’s just that the cops are obviously working their way through an old copy of the Radio Times,” he continues. “I’m just a bit worried that they might eventually get to me. Now I’ve not really put myself about since I moved here, so I thought it might be time to polish up the old profile – a bit of charity work, a couple of committees, that sort of thing. You never know when a good public image might come in handy.”
It didn’t do much for Stuart Hall, I think, before tentatively asking the inevitable question:”Soooo… is there any reason why the police might be interested in you? Is there an actual complainant?”
“Good God, no.” He says with elaborate outrage. “I would never knowingly do anything like that.”
Just then a pretty little Filipino girl I take to be the maid comes out to the garden where we’re sitting and offers us drinks. She looks about 16-years-old, 17 tops.
“Ah, Grey,” he says. “Let me introduce you to my girlfriend Precious…”
I make my excuses and leave, wondering on the drive home if a seat on the parish council annual dog show steering group would require a CRB check.
MEANWHILE, Cupcake Woman has been on the phone. “Grey,” she gushes. “I’ve decided to sell my cupcakes in Waitrose. Would you arrange an appointment with a buyer please. As soon as possible. Ciao.”
Waitrose, eh? Is she quite mad? She probably turns out a maximum of four dozen cakes a day from her Labrador-infested kitchen at home. What major retailer would possibly be interested?
On the other hand, there could be a nice little earner in this if it’s handled properly…
The Grey Cardigan has been in newspapers since the days of hot metal and expense accounts. After a lengthy career as chief sub on several regional newspapers, plus a multitude of shifts on the nationals, he was appointed editor of the Evening Beast in 2009 before being ignominiously 'rationalised' last year. He is currently collecting gas in jam jars in case the Russians cut us off. @thegreycardigan