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Thursday, November 8, 2012

He who shall remain nameless


A Bank Johnny from my time with the ANZ Bank is now managing a strip club in Melbourne and an accountant-friend from my Bougainville days subsequently promoted Bottom of the Harbour tax avoidance schemes.

I've just tracked down another accountant-friend from the same era who went on to promote tax havens in the Cook Islands and flog time-shares in Bali. That was after he had set up accounting shop in a picturesque but economically depressed coastal town. It was so depressingly depressed that he spent more time helping out-of-work cow cockies fill out Centrelink forms than doing actual accounting.

His mention of Bali time-shares brought back memories of an encounter with one such spruiker during one of our countless visits to Bali. He was one of two Poms with all the charm of second-hand car salesmen who had run out of snake oil and gone into selling time-shares in a non-existent resort. He got no money out of us but an elderly Australian couple at an adjoining table hadn't been quite so lucky: she was still sitting there, staring dreamily at a colourful sales brochure, while hubby had gone off to the bank to cash a wallet full of traveller's cheques.

Several cups of coffee later, the Pommie spruiker realised that he couldn't get blood out of a stone and escorted us down the backstairs where, before being released into a back alley full of dumpsters and dead cats, his charming receptionist made one last attempt to at least cover expenses: we were invited to twiddle the combination lock on a metal box which - if we were lucky!!! - would open up - which it did!!! - to reveal a winning coupon entitling us to a week's free stay at the same non-existent resort. Free, that is, provided there and then we paid a small 'registration fee' of a mere $50. We politely declined but suggested we might get back to them if they could give us their business card. Miraculously, they had just given out the last of their cards five minutes earlier.

Days later, aboard a cruise-ship to Lembogan Island, we shared our sea-sickness with a professor from Magdalen College at Oxford who had been spruiked the very same timeshare. He and his charming wife bemoaned the fact that they had missed out on this opportunity as they hadn't had the necessary cash with them. They hoped to still be able to do a deal after their return to England. I hope I was able to talk them out of it.

If you want to know more about the Bali Timeshare Scam, read this, especially some of the stories at the bottom of that page. This one says it all!

But back to my accountant-friend: we had a long conversation over the phone and reminisced about many people all of whom shall remain nameless. As shall my accountant-friend as he's still trying to make a living in his latest endeavour: selling real estate.

It all makes my own working life seem so pedestrian that I've begun to wonder where I went wrong!