Under the Weather

The recent decision by Sir Malcolm Balls, CEO of ailing pharmaceutical giant Poppapill PLC, to award himself a £3M bonus this year has surprised many city analysts and greatly disappointed shareholders. Coming so soon after a string of misfortunes and questionable decisions, Sir Malcolm has come under much pressure to justify the award. We were fortunate enough to let him speak to us for a little while.

UBO:

Sir Malcolm, good evening.

Balls:

Who are you?

UBO:

We, er, we called your office earlier. You said that you'd -

Balls:

Yes, whatever. What do you want?

UBO:

We hoped you might like to make a few comments about the £3M bonus that you recently received. It seems to have excited quite a lot of comment.

Balls:

Well it would. It's three million quid. That's a lot to get excited about.

UBO:

Yes, it is a lot. Do you think you deserve it?

Balls:

Well that's not really for me to comment on. The decision was ultimately the responsibility of the chief executive officer and I think it would be the height of ingratitude for me to question his judgement.

UBO:

Yes. Of course... you are the chief executive officer.

Balls:

Coincidentally, yes, but the decision was made purely in my official capacity, in the interests of bolstering the performance of the company on the stock exchange.

UBO:

How, exactly?

Balls:

Well it's a very public display of the confidence we have in the management. People see that we've splashed out a hefty bonus and they think 'Hello, here's a company that must be doing well'. The share price goes up and everybody's happy.

UBO:

But everybody isn't happy. The share price has plummeted, your market share has shrivelled to one tenth what it was before you took over and for the fifth year running you have posted a loss.

Balls:

Yes, but this is all just a matter of opinion.

UBO:

It's a matter of accounting.

Balls:

Exactly, it's all just numbers. What's it really about, eh? I mean, isn't it more important that everybody is happy?

UBO:

And is everybody happy?

Balls:

Well I am. I'm delirious - I've just landed three million smackers. Kerching!

UBO:

It's been suggested that you could have made a lot more people happy had you stepped down and allowed someone more competent to take over.

Balls:

How are you defining 'competent'?

UBO:

Someone whose actions were calculated to improve the fortunes of the company, rather than drive it to the brink of collapse.

Balls:

Harsh but fair.

UBO:

Perhaps we can consider some of your own decisions and see how they measure up?

Balls:

Let me just stop you there. Tell me, have you ever seen a man bitten by a scorpion?

UBO:

No. Now, what your shareholders want to know is... Bitten? Surely scorpions sting, they don't bite?

Balls:

Normally they sting. But when they bite, it's worse. I saw a chap bitten by a scorpion and it wasn't a pretty sight. Nearly took his arm off.

UBO:

Sir Malcolm, are you trying to avoid answering our questions?

Balls:

Yes. Is it working?

UBO:

No. Tell us about your decision to move the company headquarters to a narrow boat on the Trent and Mersey Canal.

Balls:

I've always believed that a company needs to keep moving forward. And we certainly did that. That's probably why we didn't get any mail for three years.

UBO:

OK, moving on. For twenty years Poppapill manufactured the leading pain relief brand in Europe, Poppadin Plus. In 2013 you ordered production to cease. Why?

Balls:

I didn't like the colour.

UBO:

What colour was it?

Balls:

White.

UBO:

What colour would you have preferred it to have been?

Balls:

White - but a different white. Sort of a creamy white, but the chaps in the lab couldn't get it right. You know how it is?

UBO:

No. What about your deal to sponsor primetime weather forecasts the following year?

Balls:

Nothing wrong with that.

UBO:

You only agreed to sponsor bad weather.

Balls:

Ah yes! A shrewd move, I thought. Seeing as we have so much bad weather, I figured that we'd get more air time.

UBO:

And you did, but it also meant that the company came to be associated with drizzle, darkness and wind.

Balls:

Precisely. Since, at that time, we were heavily promoting a product designed to ease flatulence, I thought an association with wind would be advantageous. Turns out it wasn't. Who knew?

UBO:

Your competitors, obviously, since their stock rose considerably after agreeing to sponsor the good weather. Sir Malcolm, it's quite clear that your leadership of Poppapill has been a complete shambles and throughout your entire time with the company -

Balls:

Now look here, I simply will not have this! I'm the boss of a major international corporation. I have a great deal of responsibility. I have skills and talents that are beyond the comprehension of most people.

UBO:

Yes?

Balls:

Yes!

UBO:

Such as?

Balls:

Such as the ability to guide the business through a six vector engagement strategy without incurring any operational loss whilst simultaneously doubling pre-forecast efficiency scheduling.

UBO:

Well that sounds very impressive, but -

Balls:

I have also successfully negotiated five - count 'em, FIVE - marginalisation reduction programmes, each of which incorporated a fully ratified system of exponential inflation control.

UBO:

Again, that's something I think most people would probably be proud of, but it doesn't alter the fact that -

Balls:

But do you know what really makes me stand out in the crowd? Do you know why I'm a genuine asset to anyone who hires me?

UBO:

No, go on.

Balls:

I'm the best bullshitter in the business. And that's worth something. Right now it's worth three million pounds. I'll let you know if that changes. Goodbye.

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