A Modern Morality Tale
Few are spared in Bob Jones’ latest novel treatment of life’s pecking order. Scientists, academics, conservationists, doctors and the clergy, and of course company directors, merchant bankers, lawyers, journalists and politicians all get good going over in this outrageously funny story.
It’s outrageous because, yes, it will offend many — which has never stopped Jones from anything. And it’s funny, which is the reason people will want to keep turning the pages.
Jones has taken the simple, but also complex, universal plot — man and money — and built it into an engaging journey of business lessons according to the main character, Len Edwards.
Along the way, this morality tale shows how shallow and superficial are many of the power and prestige icons that society worships.
Edwards is the master of the shifting sands of scam land, and his dubious deals will ring few bells to readers: the mail order businesses that sell weekly horoscopes, winning horse-racing formulas, guides to instant wealth, lucky charms. Or ads telling people to send in $25 to cut their electricity bills in half — for which they receive pair of scissors.
Then there’s the love letters scam, where bogus “lonely, attractive laboratory assistant” extracts air tickets, money and gifts from love-lorn engineers and scientists in foreign postings.
And the apartment leased for six-monthly advance rentals to 47 Americans all at the same time.
Jones comes into his own with his treatment of people.
Company directors: “It never ceases to amaze me how those pathetic buggers clamour to be directors of public companies. It’s the most bogus job. Absolutely no one takes any notice of them or even pretends to — most directors know that, yet they still carry on for cats’-meat money and self-delusion of prestige. I’ve never met non-executive director who has any idea what their company’s up to.
Scientists: Collectively referred to as “beards” they study esoteric and useless projects such as why there are no polar bears in the Antarctic, whether leopard seals have right-handed bias, blinking and yawning in seals and incipient penguin neurosis. “They’re mostly boring buggers and screamingly bloody wet — sort of Morris-dancing wet. They’ve got beards and I can picture them back here driving small cars with ‘Baby on Board’ signs, that sort of wetness.”
Left wing academics: You know the types, they’ve been in vacuum since socialism collapsed.
Greenpeace: “I had X donate half million quid to Greenpeace to agitate on this issue and damn fine investment it proved as it drove exotic log prices up 60 percent.”
A good thought provoking and funny read, where you may or may not agree on the details, but you have to laugh at the big picture.
Jones of course, is one of the country’s most colourful knights and businessmen, whose vast insight into the goings on in high places over the years is bound to make useful research. His first book was Jones on Property in 1977, and he’s been writing regularly since, as newspaper columnist and book author.