It is always nice to see a plastic hare being chased by greyhounds (note how carefully I have removed this from the area of blood sports. I have to be very careful what I sat round here, though. I am in the minority when it comes to objecting to hounds/dead foxes, and a bit odd because I’ve never saddled a horse). Sir Fred, who has a wonderfully apposite name, in that his whole career has been predicated on winning a lottery of sorts, is coming in for a terrible pasting. Having headed the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), which has surprised even some seasoned professionals by the epic scale of its losses (‘I don’t think the Royal Bank of Scotland will collapse’ – my mum’s solicitor last November), he has now fixed himself up, at a few years over 50, yes I am jealous, with an annual pension bung of nearly £700,000. Since this is, for every year in retirement, about twice or even three times the amount that many people earn in an entire working life, he has been an easy person to get the knives out for.
Nonetheless, a po-faced gentleman on the BBC a couple of nights ago (he was something to do with the city) said it would be quite wrong for Sir Fred to give up his right to that, even if a retrospective law was passed. This, he said – it wouldn’t have gone unchallenged on Jon Snow’s Channel Four News – was because it would contravene the Rule Of Law. (Others have chucked in the European Court of Human Rights.)
The question is, what would you do with the money, which is about three wins a year on Deal Or No Deal? In Sir Fred’s case, if he gets to keep it, a sensible option would be to acquire a top-notch plastic surgeon, and afterwards enrol under a new name for the first manned flight to Mars. He is already – especially since his opposite number at HSBC has apparently thrown in the towel – destined to be remembered in foot-notes as the greediest bastard of the decade. Not that he is (he doesn’t play for Manchester United Football Club, as far as I know). There are plenty of them out there in cloud-cuckoo-county (Surrey), living the low life.
And in any case, what is wrong with retrospective legislation? If we can overturn verdicts years after innocent people have been slung in jail for crimes they didn’t commit, what’s so wrong with unpocketing the pension fund of someone who doesn’t deserve it? If we can give back the heads of Tasmanian people a century or so later, and start thinking about whether Lord Elgin was really God’s gift to Greek archaeology, surely Sir Fred can have his wallet snatched, while we all look the other way? Wasn’t the whole point of Mandela’s truth and justice commission that the bad guys got to say sorry, retrospectively?
With a name like Goodwin, it’s a fair bet that Sir Fred is descended from the Godwins who once ruled the country. He is probably a direct descendant of Harold II, and he certainly deserves at least an equal poke in the eye. His name is an anagram of Wing-doo, and Wind-goo, and there is the ineffable smell of guano about him. In fact, his full name Frederick Anderson Goodwin anagrams as Friedcake Nerd Owing Donors, and you can get that one out just by splitting his name in two and tackling each part separately.
What we need is a maximum income. The prospect, it is often said of this, would drive people abroad. Good. When is the first flight to Mordor?