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Monday, 9 July 2007

What does happen when drink and drugs combine without you knowing it?

… Plus how to leap from loss to profit in a trice

One of my old bosses used to say “never promise more than you can deliver; and always deliver what you promise.”

Maybe I wasn’t listening properly, as I promised all kinds of things last Monday that I haven’t delivered yet.

I touched on the combined effects of amphetamines, rum and Methedrine - taken in ignorance – and also the tale of how my new suede coat was ruined by a carving knife attack. And how my partner Martin and I took a failing mail order piano course and turned it round.

Shall we start with the druggy part?

If you remember, I was living with a lady - let’s call her “A” - who’d retired from a life of well-paid misbehaviour. By well-paid I mean she told me that in the five years before we got together she’d blown £50,000 on meth.

Multiply by at least 10 and maybe 20 to get its value now.

We only had one encounter with her old druggie pals, when we went out one night. At that time – and for some years before and after – I suffered from what I eventually discovered was hypertension.

I had fearful panic attacks - was utterly convinced I was going to die each night as I tried to sleep. No fun at all.

No doctor seemed to know what to do about it; they were all a bit vague about what worked and what didn’t, but the one I was seeing at that time, decided a suitable treatment would be purple hearts. This I quickly realized was about 100% the wrong idea as they excite you, not calm you down.

Nor did I know they were disastrous when taken with alcohol – until one day during a meeting after a good lunch I made romantic advances to the wife of our biggest client. She was probably as surprised as I was, being hardly the stuff of fantasies - just rather cuddly in a motherly fashion - and very forgiving

Anyhow, returning to the day I was talking about, I went home – a top floor flat next to Whiteleys in Queensway - where I my love and I shared a joint. Then we went to a club in Carnaby Street, where we shared half a bottle of rum with some of her friends.

One kindly soul, it seems, livened it up with a spot of liquid meth.

I never quite understood why I was unable to sleep or keep still for a second for two nights and days. Nor why I kept weeping inconsolably as I gazed at my loved one, who was lying in the bath as I lamented that she had sold her body to so many for so long.

This was a trifle odd, really, as part of me had always found that thought vaguely exciting.

So now you know what happens when you mix all these contrasting mind-modifiers: insomnia, restless energy, and weepy mopings.

But you don’t yet know about the carving knife attack, my beautiful, ruined mushroom suede coat, how A amazed me by turning out to be insanely jealous – odd in one of her professional background.

All yet to come – but now back to business.


I have a confession here: this narrative is bobbing about a bit in terms of what happened when. My first venture with Martin took place two years after the adventures with A, but the facts in both cases are as I describe them.

When we got hold of the mail order piano course – which was called Easy-Learn – Martin and I had to invest some of my £780 savings to get its owner back to Canada, where he came from, in exchange for him giving us the rights.

So I paid for his air flight, did the deal, then went to see George Gibbs, the chairman of the ad agency Martin worked for.

George was owed so much money he wouldn’t allow any more advertising. But that money was down the drain, so when I promised to pay for advertising as we went along, and gradually repay the debt, he agreed.

Then we had to make the course profitable.

Martin had detected the flaw in what they now p0mpously call the “business model.”

The course – which was a book of lessons - was being sold off the page, then after 6 weeks customers were offered the whole thing on record for a lot more money. Not enough bought to make it really profitable.

What did we do?

What we did was sell the paper course and offer the upgrade by return when they bought. That made all the difference – and demonstrates an important, simple business truth many people still don’t appreciate.

The best time to sell people is usually when they’ve just bought.

You may know this, but we didn’t till we tried it – and it laid the foundation for what could and should have made us rich.

But it didn’t, because of a few simple mistakes and one piece of bad luck involving a lying newspaper.

More to come, dear readers, if you’re still with me.

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