Coales' Notes: Something is cooking: Gordon Coales attempts to deflect a funding crisis and imminent redundancy

Click to follow
The Independent Culture
MONDAY: Am I doing wrong? I tried to get some practical advice from Rowena at the weekend. I told her that Terry had ripped off the Centre to the tune of many thousands of pounds while I had left him in charge during our visit to the Edinburgh Festival, by putting through unauthorised payments for kitchen equipment. How far did she think the finger of blame would point at me?

She said: 'But aren't you always wanting to expand the restaurant anyway?' She is very involved in her ongoing book.

The answer must be to keep Terry's part in the affair under wraps until after next week and the TV has been and gone. Try and get Fiona on my side.

TUESDAY: Meeting with Fiona. I explained that our situation was much more serious than we had understood, there had been a mysterious haemorrhage of funds, and the long and the short of it was I had regrettfully concluded that rather than immediate temporary closure, we should consider the redundancy option - and I was counting on her help.

She said: 'What d'you mean a haemorrhage? It's obviously a Council bluff. Go for closure, - they won't dare do it.'

I said I was not prepared to gamble with the future of the Centre, and we must therefore be prepared to shed somebody - obviously not her, probably Bob, Juliet or Pat. And I hoped I could trust her, for morale's sake, not to disclose this to anyone else, just at the moment. She agreed reluctantly.

WEDNESDAY: This morning Bob, Pat and Juliet each by turns got me into a discrete corner to affirm their strong commitment to the Centre and to the direction in which I personally was taking it. When it came to Juliet, I asked her what she thought that direction was. She said, 'Oh, I don't know, I suppose, kind of . . . stability.' It's good to know one gets something across. But I wish they'd realise that this is not making my decision any easier.

I had a call from the accountant. He announced: 'I have been pursuing my enquiries, Mr Coales, and I am sorry to inform you that you would appear to have been the victim of an elaborate fraud. We have finally managed to trace Paradise Kitchens Ltd to Mr Terry Staples who, I note, serves as Development Officer for the Wormwood Centre.' I had no idea that the Council could employ anyone so efficient. I said it was troubling news indeed. He said: 'Well, I have been obliged of course to notify the police of Mr Staples' activities.' This is all I need. He also wanted to know when precisely I intended to make the redundancy. I told him it would be soon.

THURSDAY: Visit from a policeman (thankfully in plain clothes). He began: 'So, these 16 pizza ovens - an installation, was it?' He had been keenly following the Turner Prize controversy. I put him in the picture up to a point. He concluded: 'But what I am not clear about is how Mr Staples got himself into a position to arrange these payments.' I said I had not been able to get hold of Terry for over a month. He said many people had apparently experienced a similar difficulty.

FRIDAY: General meeting. I told them that, as they all knew, throughout next week we would be playing host to the cameras of Wall Eye Television. It was a 'real life' programme, and so the watchword must simply be: business as usual.

At this point Fiona interrupted. 'What Gordon is tactfully not saying is that the Council is at this moment trying to destroy the Wormwood Centre with an obviously bogus story about a mysterious disappearance of funds.' She proposed that we used the opportunity of TV coverage to give maximum publicity to this 'outrage'.

I insisted that this was out of the question. We could get into very serious trouble making unfounded allegations of this sort. Much murmuring.

Later I was staggered to receive a phone call from Terry. I told him I did not even wish to speak to him. He said: 'OK, Gordon. A promise. What I will do is get you eight of the ovens, delivered, at the door, Monday morning. Now is that a deal?'

I told him the time for any sort of deal had clearly now passed. He said 'For God's sake Gordon, season of goodwill, friend in need - it was only a loan, take the ovens in lieu for the time being.'

I told him I was going to put the phone down. He said: 'To tell you the truth, Gordon, I'm a bit short of a base at the minute. You wouldn't have any spare office space would you?' I put the phone down.

Wall Eye rang to make some last minute arrangements. I hope I was coherent. I think I have decided on Juliet. I now need to think of a good reason, and try and take her on one side at some point when the cameras aren't looking.

Comments