Life’s bare necessities are revealed in death to Professor Verity Bastion.

Nowadays I attend more funerals than cocktail parties. They can be quite jolly affairs and it is remarkable what you learn about the dead.  You often discover they were much more interesting than they ever let on in life.

Last week I attended Crispin McDonal’s funeral, which was not the jolly type. It followed his dramatic fall from grace due to unsavoury revelations about his harassment of women which led him to take his own life.  I felt I should attend as he had been one of my star pupils as well as latterly a friend and thought the family might value support in the circumstances.

Surprisingly though his suicide seemed to have allowed everyone to forget his fall and remember his money.  The turnout in the City Church of St Botolph Without was impressive in quantity and quality including the unavoidable Liz Truss looking resplendent in a bright scarlet coat with black fur cuffs. 

I sat next to a fellow academic, Sir Adam Stark, an economics professor at Cambridge, where the service was held.  I learnt that in his heyday, Crispin had sponsored Sir Adam’s chair to celebrate Hayek’s work and to demonstrate once and for all that markets were superior to all other forms of economic organisation.  Sir Adam told me his mission was not proving easy and that he had a lot more hair when he was appointed ten years ago.

I am not sure though who chose the reading: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart”, given the reports that he had been found in the buff washed up on the shores of the Thames.  Still no-one mentioned that as they munched on balsamic beetroot canapes.

I returned home to find Prinz Charlz waiting eagerly to talk to me about his latest business venture, Prinz Coachz.  I never fail to enjoy the visits from this roguish master of practical addiction economics who I met some years ago while in A&E following an accident with a knife. I was not disappointed.

The insight came to him that the addiction economy lacked a career development infrastructure. 

Prinz was starting to become aware of his mortality and was looking to go straight or at least straighter to cut down on stress. This was part of a whole health kick: he was now a keen fermenter since he discovered the secrets of gut health.  He made his own Kombucha, Kefir, Kimchee, Sauerkraut and best of all, he said, fermented lemons and limes. He was a new man.

The idea for Prinz Coachz came to him when he was watching the Top Boy final season about drug dealers in London.  The insight came to him that the addiction economy lacked a career development infrastructure.  He realised that many of the characters in Top Boy would be alive today if they had had some coaching in economics.

Within days he had found an ideal location – a secondary school in the East End that was now closed but was easily broken into.  He got the word out and the resulting demand was extraordinary.  His clients didn’t even complain when they were required to remove all their clothes to ensure they were not wired, nor armed.  Prinz told them that he was going to clothe them with the special knowledge of addiction economics and business strategy and they couldn’t get enough of it.

His only problem now was some of his erstwhile clients have since turned up naked and dead, and protecting his brand was leading to his stress levels rising again.

I told him that from my experience the best tactic was to put it out that the ones found dead hadn’t properly implemented the economic knowledge they gained and it would be wise for his other alumni to return for a refresher course.  He left happy and relaxed, a true economic believer.

Verity Bastion

Verity is an emeritus professor of economics now living in a retirement apartment with her husband, Thomas, after a distinguished career. She writes a regular column for The Mint on …

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