Start at the bottom: Neil Start drowns in unsold Christmas cards - and then despair

Tuesday: The sight of Santa in every shop window has reminded Clare, our head of policy, that sales of the Goldfish Action Group's very own Christmas cards are going slowly this year.

Keen, as she put it with her customary motivational insight, to "bring me back to earth" after my arrest on terrorist charges and subsequent headline appearance on Blue Peter, she has given me the unenviable brief of boosting card sales by 100 per cent by the end of the week. Targets are Clare's new big thing, based on Make Your Team Teem - her latest managerial vade-mecum, picked up at an 'alternative' leadership seminar and no doubt authored by David Davis's campaign manager.

One look at the cards would alert anyone to the problem - they have to be inclusive, so there can be no mention of Christmas. The usual stand-by of 'Season's Greetings' is "too establishment", Clare explained as she rushed off to lunch with her godfather at the Garrick.

So it simply reads 'Float On'. Minimalism on the inside, but on the outside - well, David, our chairman, has very nobly taken under his wing a young man called Shane who has just been released after serving three years in Strangeways for mistreating his goldfish.

In an effort to prove that his contrition is genuine, Shane has produced, free of charge, a series of colourful illustrations with our signature goldfish in various winter wonderlands. Some twist the predictable - popping out of a hole in Arctic ice with a seal and a chunk of the Titanic for company - but others are really bizarre. In one, the goldfish is emerging laughing from an oven full of turkeys. In another, he looks suspiciously as if he could be doing something unspeakable to a donkey. When I raise my concerns, David just tells me I lack forgiveness.

Friday: Still way off target, so I set off down our local high street to try and cash in on my TV celebrity and persuade shopkeepers to stock GAG's cards. I was doing quite well, with ten dozen placed in the fishmonger, 20 packs in the cake shop and a remaindered copy of Greg Dyke's memoirs from the bookshop as a consolation prize for them saying no.

But then the manager of the OAP hairdressing salon - rinse, perm and colour for £2.99 - threatened to report me for upsetting her customers.

I was only trying to exercise my boyish charm. I wasn't to know one of them was the founder of a donkey sanctuary.

I returned to the office to confess my failure to Clare and take my punishment like a man, but I walked in on a party. A bit over the top, I thought, even for my triumph in the fishmonger, but it turned out that everyone was celebrating Anka's good news. Our Latvian receptionist (until five weeks ago my girlfriend), Clare informed me with tears streaking orange mascara down her cheeks, is going to have a baby and David is the proud dad-to-be.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus