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It Was Only Money…

 

A little something I wrote to amuse myself while the stock markets continue to play havoc with my working day!

Todd’s head shook in disbelief as he watched. Had it really taken so little time, so few seconds, for the numbers on-screen to bleed from the healthy blue lake of profit to the sinkhole of dark, red despair that now reflected back at him? He reached a forefinger into his collar; tugging, loosening, desperately trying to dampen down his hysteria and regain rational thought as his mind struggled to accept that his entire portfolio – his whole net worth – had just sunk without trace in front of his eyes. His palms were clammy; beads of sweat broke out on his forehead. His hand fluttered uselessly over the keyboard: uncertain; unguided; unable to do anything to change the horror of what he was seeing. The nightmare, it seemed, had actually happened. The thing he feared most had come to pass. He felt utterly helpless in the face of such brutal loss. His useless hand sank back to the desk and he in turn slumped back in his seat; his other hand covering his eyes, shutting out the blinking red disaster that was his life. His thoughts flashed  wildly: what would he tell Ruth – his wife, his love? A forlorn and fleeting hope: was this some sort of computer glitch? Then epic dawning that there was no way out of this. No happy ending, no golden retirement fund, no paid-off mortgage and childrens’ trust funds. No well done back-patting and a sense of smug self-satisfaction. He was forty nine, a father of two, and his financial world had collapsed. No home; no money; no security. Nothing. He’d bet the farm – including the parts he didn’t yet own – and had lost the lot.

He rose shakily from the chair, burdened by a ton of concrete failure strapped to his shoulders. Unnoticed by most, one assistant did pick up on his pallor, his hopeless demeanor and zombie-like stumble away from his desk. She glanced up at him as he passed, wondered vaguely if he was OK but then resumed her personal call, gum rotating slowly in her mouth as she languidly discussed the relative merits of heels over flats for her night out.

Todd’s slow progress sped to a faltering run. Bile rose within him in waves, propelling him forward and away from the cruel sea of red numbers he had just witnessed. He slammed out through the office door and into a hexagonal hallway. Wooden portals to other firms stared in blank indifference to his entrance. He flew through the door directly opposite into an austere white bathroom where he only just made it to the cubicle on time – throwing up and up, his stomach heaving and retching its sorry contents out in sympathy with his wretched situation. Snot and tears flowed in equal measure down his face as he allowed the fear to overwhelm him at last and gave in to the sheer horror of it.

Slumped down beside the toilet, his chin smeared with his own vomit, he tried to stifle the painful sobs wrenched from within him. He knew it was over. He was finished. He was a useless, careless, reckless bugger and he’d got his comeuppance. Serves him right. Arrogant arse, thinking he would be the one to get the golden goose. A weird tingling down his left arm matched a sudden crushing pain deep in his chest; his breathing rapid, shallow. His jaw tightened and clenched. Something worse was happening, infinitely worse. His last thought before his over-stressed heart spasmed its last: It was only money…

 

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When Pigs Became Tigers…

This past week was spent in a not-so-sunny Salcombe. A very wet half-term but with some fun, challenging and awe-inspiring moments.

We’re not well-known for any outstanding acts of bravery here in the House of Pig. We lead pretty ordinary lives really broken only by the madcap adventures of me, Mrs Pig, who does like to mix it up a bit and who occasionally wanders outside the family comfort zone.

This week, however, saw my Pigs become veritable Tigers. Pure Lionhearts of determination and courage. Not on an epic scale for the general good of mankind – that would be unrealistic and time-consuming (only a week’s holiday after all). But on the Pig scale of courage, quite something.

The first was Man-Hog who bravely took up the challenge of learning to handle a pretty hefty rib up and down the estuary and out to sea. An ex-Naval man, he’s not afraid of the water by any means but close proximity has not been felt for many a long time. On this occasion, it was a darn sight too close. A 360 degree doughnut at 30 knots into a Force 8 swell by one of the other trainees on board unfortunately threw the boat’s skipper down the full length of the rib and left the Man-Hog, who’d been sitting at the back, clinging to a rubber handle of the rib by only his fingertips; his tootsies skimming the water and all looking very bleak. He could not get back in-board and there was no-one available to help, the skipper still struggling to return to the inept trainee helmsman from her prone position in the bow. A lucky wave bounce finally threw the Man-Hog back on-board. The skipper, now recovered from her own fall, just laughed it all off as a “learning curve” in how not to turn a boat at high speed but I know my Man-Hog was left feeling like he’d just received six of the best in the naughty corner! He recounted his story with shaking hands and much nervous swallowing over a wee tipple in the pub that night and we pronounced him a hero for not drowning and for continuing with the course after such a frightening experience. A Man-Tiger is among us after all – who knew?!

The Mini-Pigs, meanwhile, were each allowed to bring a friend on holiday with them. Whilst the Man-Hog bravely battled the ocean blue, I took four damp children to an outdoor theme park much to their delight and my abject sogginess. As chief coat-holder/lunch-purchaser/mug I was left at the bottom of many a ride and the seams of my waterproof were simply not equipped to cope with the constant downpour. Damp and Cold were my companions. Nevertheless, the kids had fun and threw themselves around with great enthusiasm. My son’s friend is fearless in the face of speed, water depth and, mainly, height of rides and wanted to go on everything. My son is conversely (and by self-confession) afraid of heights and would rather eat scrambled seaweed in a weaver-fish jus than jump off the top of anything over ten feet. Peer pressure can be a terrible thing sometimes but, miraculously, in this instance it proved to be a mini Lion-Maker. Rather than face the ignominy of returning to school having not met the same challenges as his friend, my son swallowed his rising bile of fear, hitched up his sodden trousers and LEAPT (eyes shut naturally) off the top of a high freefall slide, FRONTED the pair of them in a boat hurtling at top-speed from a great height down a water-drenched flume and even RAISED arms (OK one arm, not two but meh) on the swinging Galleon ship upwardly mobile ride from hell. My heart, and his I’m sure, was bursting with pride at his determination and sheer guts to overcome a real and genuine phobia rather than lose face. My little Mini-Tiger can hold his head high, he was not found wanting.

Small victories on a global scale but hugely significant in the Pig household. Perhaps more Tigger than Tiger to outside observers. Well – let me put it this way: the highlight of my week could have been the lovely beaches, the great food, the warm welcome from locals. But not this time. This time it was proudly seeing my Pigs, large and small, display their Inner Tigers. And Grrrrrr to anyone who thinks otherwise!