Making an acquisition of myself

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ENOUGH. There are going to be changes round here. For too long I have wallowed in a warm stew of sullen resentment and green, bitter venom. It's too easy. No backbone required. Well: time to pull myself together.

With a bit of luck and a lot of effort, I might end up like that tight- faced woman who put the bite on poor Rocco the other day. You'll know the woman I mean. Powerful, successful, widely-feared, done-up like a dog's dinner, her remorseless pictures in the Press somehow conjuring in my diseased mind all the terrible objective correlatives de nos jours, sweethearts: public relations handouts, cost-benefit analyses, downsizing, dodgy maintenance, fishy quangos, short-term gains, asset disposal, share options, lease-back arrangements, fear, spite and nastiness.

I am now in favour of all those things. All the while I've thought I was a liberal humanitarian, the unconscious mind must have been working away in the gloom, ruminating quietly away in the warm dark Peterhouse of the soul, presently coming up with a fine Conservative political economy, fully-formed, just like the chap who woke up with the image of the benzene ring complete in his mind: a serpent with its head up its arse.

I, too, was presented with my new theory upon waking. It was one of those icy winter days when deadlines pile up like snowdrifts and creditors gather at the door, and the only thing one can do is go to bed.

I was woken some hours later by my bad yellow-eyed woman, groaning beside me. "Oh, oh, oh," she said when interrogated. "Awful headache." The old, wet me would have soothed her with calming words and a warm flannel before going downstairs to fetch Aspirin - no, pethidine; why bugger around? - and honey-sweetened tea. But the old me had died in its sleep, and the new me was having none of it. The obvious thing to do, I decided, was to haul her out of bed, stick her on a table in the coldest, draughtiest part of the flat, cover her with a stained blanket and then leave her for 36 hours without food or water while I went out and spent the pethidine budget on loose women and a new carpet for my study. If she was still alive when I'd finished, I would send in a PR person to read a prepared statement and offer her a quid to keep her trap shut.

This plan sprang whole and unbidden into my mind, and I realised I had, at my fingertips, a marvellous solution to all my domestic problems. From henceforth (I decided) I would run my private life strictly according to government policy.

And so I shall. The first step will be to sell my mind. Huge resources of effort and fish go to maintaining this expensive asset, which is currently only being used to a fraction of its capacity, most of it being unprofitably occupied with weird sexual fantasies, gadget obsessions and interminable, drivelling narratives about myself. I shall therefore sell it to a consortium of overseas businessmen. This will realise a substantial capital sum, which I will then invest in various offshore securities, arms companies and cocaine operations, the revenues from which will meet the leaseback costs whenever I require my mind in order to write.

Similarly, there are other members of my bodily establishment which are either seriously under-utilised or are duplicating effort. Out-side the cossetted surroundings of myself, harsh free-market competitiveness shows the way forward. My friend Webb, the immensely distinguished author of Old Webby's New Brief Lives, has for many years got by perfectly satisfactorily on one lung. Yet I maintain two of the spongy little parasites. How can this be justified?

It cannot, and one lung will therefore be relocated, together with a kidney. Questions are still hanging over the testicles, but it is my present intention to allow natural wastage to deal with that problem. I shall also be initiating studies to determine precisely what percentage of the time my spleen is doing anything useful, and whether or not all those ribs are strictly necessary.

My hands will be formed into a separate business unit, required to show an operating profit by the end of the third quarter thereafter. Internal accounting procedures will take care of charges thus levied for productive use. Typing original material will of course be chargeable to the mind consortium, bringing in valuable foreign currency, although I expect that we will see an increase in the use of longhand, this requiring just one hand, thereby freeing the other to pursue new business. Non-productive hand deployment - for example, nose-picking, belly-button-fluff-excavating, tie-straightening and offspring-fondling - will be strictly curtailed.

In the wider sphere of my domestic establishment, similar rigours will prevail. I propose to institute an immediate ban on all entertaining, a wasteful and non-productive activity which consumes valuable resources with no tangible return. Innumerable mouth-hours are squandered on pointless observations such as "Hello" and "Have you had the baby yet?" and "Guess what I just heard about Michael Portillo" and "Is your headache any better?" and "They're handcuffs, of course; what do they look like?" This will cease forthwith.

No habits or customs, however venerable, will escape the ruthless spotlight of asset management. Friendship, affection, love, honour, duty, charity and compassion may all seem very nice and cosy, but the fact is, they are existing in an artificial environment. Just because they have always been done in one particular way is no justification. Take friends, for example: a pilot study suggests that I have a requirement for a maximum of three friends, to be contracted out as opposed to the current open- ended commitment. These posts will be put out to sealed tender on a bid- plus-quality-threshold basis, and readers are invited to apply. Whether or not it will be fun depends on the cost/benefit analysis. !

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