Tag Archives: British Empire

Yesterday I met a man from Atlantis who speaks Japanese

For ages, I have thought there was mileage in a Real People chat show on TV – if you go to any bus queue in any town in Britain and choose any person at random then, with the right questions, that person will reveal the most extraordinary life story.

Life truly is stranger than fiction. Novels are very often watered-down versions of the truth and they have been watered-down simply to make them believable.

I was reminded of this when I was passing through the food department of Selfridges in Oxford Street yesterday and I was offered a free tea sample by a Greek-Bulgarian sales specialist working for the East India Company which was bought by an Indian entrepreneur in 2005 and which opened a shop in London’s West End last year. It turned out the tea-offerer was from the island of Santorini (claimed by some to be the origin of the legend of Atlantis). He told me he spoke six languages including Japanese and Scots Gaelic – which he then proceeded to do.

Speak Gaelic.

It is a tad odd to have a Greek-Bulgarian from Atlantis who works for the East India Company (given its charter by Queen Elizabeth I in 1600) speak Gaelic to you when you are passing through the food department of Selfridges department store.

To surprise me, it would have been enough for him, as a Greek-Bulgarian, just to work for the fabled East India Company because I hadn’t realised it had been re-born.

While being one of the most successful commercial companies ever to exist –  at its height, the company allegedly generated half of world trade and it established Singapore and Hong Kong as trading centres – it also effectively ruled India with its own army on behalf of the British government 1757-1858 and virtually built the British Empire by monopolising the Opium Trade – it was responsible both for the Opium Wars and the Indian Mutiny!

That Indian entrepreneur – Sanjiv Mehta – who bought the name in 2005 and re-started the company last year is a near genius. People are buying recognisable brand names for millions of pounds/dollars all over the world and the East India Company must be one of the most famous names worldwide – it has been around for 411 years – though I’m not sure trade with China will be easy!

So it would have been enough for the tea-offerer, as a Greek-Bulgarian, just to work for the fabled East India Company but, good heavens – perhaps you had to be there – a Greek-Bulgarian who works for the East India Company, comes from the original Atlantis and speaks Gaelic! What are the odds of that combination happening? If you wrote a novel with a character like that in it, people would laugh at how stupid you were for including such a literally incredible character…

What price a Real People chat show?

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“Killer Bitch”, a UK crime crisis and “Citizen Kane”

I was talking to one of the Killer Bitch cast yesterday and (as one who knows) he came out with the legendary line: “I’ve got no money at the moment and xxxx xxxxxxx ain’t got no money either. The bottom’s fallen out of Crime.”

Has Britain fallen this low? Sir Francis Drake made England great by robbing Spanish ships of their gold and the East India Company built Queen Victoria’s glorious British Empire on the heroin trade.

We live in difficult economic times. Or do we? Opinion varies.

A recent report said organised crime caused “an estimated £30 billion a year in social and economic harm” to the UK. I’m not quite sure what “harm” means in this context. Presumably it means there is a £30 billion black economy underpinning the ‘legitimate’ economy. But it’s all guestimates on guestimates. A recent report by the Association of Chief Police Officers claimed the UK underworld economy is now worth around £40 billion a year.

I’m more concerned that fake DVD production is now reckoned to be worth £300 million in the UK. I had vaguely hoped Killer Bitch might be fairly immune to this because I had hoped that the people most likely to rip us off were actually involved in the movie in some way – and therefore highly unlikely to rip us off. I had, however, reckoned without the international nature of modern movie rip-off-dom.

Still, I am filled with hope for the future of Killer Bitch because Michael Deeley, the highly-regarded head of British Lion Films reportedly said, when his company released The Wicker Man in 1973, that it was the worst film he had ever seen. Years later, the equally highly-regarded Cinefantastique magazine devoted at entire issue to The Wicker Man, famously calling it “the Citizen Kane of horror films”, while the Los Angeles Times said it was: “Witty & scary! No one who sits through it to the end is likely to find it easy to shake off.”

Likewise, no-one who sits through Killer Bitch with an increasingly dropped jaw and open mouth is ever likely to forget it. Bland it is certainly not.

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