It costs nothing to dream, but if you get carried away by one, you can easily lose your home. Andrew Bown-Copley had had a dream such as this, which he described in a sentence that made up in enthusiasm what it lacked in syntactical structure: "It's just so completely off-the-wall, mad-as-a-hatter wicked idea of a nonsense-head that you think, 'Christ! I could turn this round and make it happen! I can do this thing!'" An hour later in screen time, and his wife, Vicky, a paragon of uncomplaining support, was packing the cardboard boxes and preparing to move out of the house that they'd struggled for months to cling on to. But Andrew wasn't downcast, or at least wasn't prepared to admit to it if he was. "To downsize your house isn't a problem," he said breezily. "I'd live anywhere with Vicky... anywhere."
You need to think positively if you're to turn a dream into reality, of course, but that there might be a downside to such optimism became clear pretty early on in Love and Money, Tanya Stephans's film about Andrew's attempt to set up a new low-cost airline. It was faintly worrying to see him setting off for a crucial funding meeting in London with his suit pockets stuffed with packets of crisps and a pork pie, a good way to cut down on expenses but perhaps not the best way to make a businesslike impression on someone you're touching for £2m. You wondered a little too about his ability to spot a silver lining in clouds that blotted out the sky. Shortly after hearing that the desperately needed investor wasn't yet ready to commit any funds, Andrew talked to Vicky on the phone. "Well, it's good news and bad, really," he said cautiously, and then he had second thoughts. "Well, it's not bad news at all, really," he said. It was like someone who'd just been hit by lightning describing the effect as a pleasant tingle.
There was something touching about Andrew's confidence that the future would deliver what the present was so curmudgeonly withholding, but Stephans's film was frustratingly short on information that would have allowed you to judge the exact nature of his enterprise. Was it bold or delusional to take on Ryanair and easyJet in one of the most competitive markets around? That it might be the latter was suggested by a jaw-dropping aside when Andrew was explaining how excited he was about the arrival of a new CEO. "We'd already identified that what we're missing from the project was airline experience," he said casually. Good spot, Andrew, but if I was going to put money into a new low-cost carrier, I think I might do it with someone for whom that hadn't been an afterthought.
For Andrew, the real dream was money and the airline was just a means to an end. For Willie Harcourt-Cooze, the evening's other entrepreneurial visionary, the dream is the best chocolate in the world and the money seems to be just a hoped-for after-effect. A few years ago, Willie sold everything he owned, bought 1,000 acres of Venezuelan rainforest, and set out to make a 100-per-cent-cocoa-solids, premier-cru chocolate, doing everything from bean to finished bar. Channel 4's series Willie's Wonky Chocolate Factory (a title for which someone ought to be tarred and feathered) followed his quixotic attempt to get the operation up and running. Willie certainly doesn't lack the heroic buoyancy you need when taking on such a long-odds, long-haul enterprise. Emerging to find that vandals had smashed the window on his Volvo estate, Willie assured his children that this could be seen as a positive development. "It's fresh air," he said. "It's a new kind of air-conditioning." That resilience had carried him through two serious crop failures to the point where filming began, as Willie and his family returned to Venezuela to oversee his first commercial harvest.
Willie has a supportive wife, too, Tania, who doesn't seem unduly rattled by a husband who decides to hand-make chocolate spread at four in the morning, while she packs the suitcases so they can catch their aircraft. Marriage to Willie must be like being roped to a kangaroo: full of wild ups and downs and short on a sense of control. Indeed, so animated is he in some sequences that you can't help but wonder if he's been sampling another of South America's famous pick-me-ups. But I think he's an additive-free maniac, and he's very winning with it.
As this first episode ended, Willie was trying to work out how he could find an additional £35,000 to get the chocolate to market, but on his mental account books the dream still figured as money in the bank. "Imagine you've got nothing," he said, "and now imagine you've got nothing and no dream." You can now buy the chocolate in Selfridges, apparently, but as far as I know there's still no trace of Andrew's airline.Reuse content