Lick Neeson, high-flying head trader for the Singapore office of a 24-carat London bank, thinks nothing of working 100-hour weeks. He responds to requests for a three o'clock appointment by asking: "Morning or afternoon?" and knows, as a former partner in the ancient Boston law firm Grisham & Turow, how to work 10 hours and charge for 14.
His private life - evenings at home, office chit-chat - has taken a back seat. He prefers the office to home, which suits his wife Nisa fine, because she doesn't like him much, even though she does enjoy his salary. "Small talk is cheap," says Lick, "and the margins are chickenfeed."
Lick is the rising star of the international futures markets, a poor kid from the wrong side of the tracks with a brilliant record with the bookies at Hackney dog racing circuit, where he honed his skills. He is an outsider at the bank, where senior partners greet one another with the traditional "Air, Hair, Lair" each morning.
But a shadow falls across his charmed life when art starts to imitate Liffe. Lick learns - too late - that the once prestigious merchant bank is in fact a discreet front for an illicit cash-crazy casino, run out of the basement of his office. Heavy hitters from around the world flash through a secret account handled in the bank's Singapore basement, staking millions on the turn of a currency - or the outcome of a cricket match.
When Lick begins to dabble for himself - encouraged by a mysterious senior figures within the company whom he never sees - he finds that he has been set up. He does no more than dip a toe in the water, staking a couple of hundred million dollars of the bank's money on futures in the Japanese pop charts. But his every move is tracked by public-school toughies from the Bank of England. When they arrive and start asking him polite questions, all his former friends within The Firm disown him. Lick knows that if he co-operates with the bowler hats, the high roller gamblers who have been using his services will be after him in the form of Bob "the Blade" Credito, to blow his yacht to kingdom come. But if he refuses to work with the men in pinstripes he knows that shadowy forces within the establishment will attempt to get him incarcerated in a Singapore jail.
Lissom fans will be able to guess what happens next. Lick spends a few late nights messing around with the office photocopier and runs for his life when the paper tray runs out of A4 sheets flashing up the message Error 8888. The climax explodes as Lick and Nisa attempt to snorkel their way to freedom from the beach of a luxury Asian hotel at the resort of Kram Karamali. All the old favourite Lissom standbys are here - the Italian Mamma with an oven full of hot lasagne, the incorruptible don't-give-me- that-crap-in-my-courtroom black judge, the conceited, media-struck district attorney, the sensational and big-hearted barroom dancer hired to ensnare Lick in a bizarre sex scene. The Crash is, like the author's previous bestsellers, Futures Shock and Money for Nothing, full of the famous Lissom sense of fun. "Lick was precocious even as a kid," he writes. "He whacked his Dad's head in with a seven-iron when he was only five."
A leaked memo on Hollywood's plan for the Barings story
To: Tom Esterhazy, script consultant
From: Sol Greenburg head of development, Colm-Corp Pictures
cc Kosimura Osigara
Say, listen, Tom, this treatment you sent for Lissom's The Crash, it's a no-no. Me, I don't buy your "Four Traders and A Derivative" line. We've tried Brits, Brits aren't boffo. Hugh Grant is, in my book, a one- pic wonder with nothing to recommend him beyond that under-dressed pneumatic on his arm. In fact, I don't figure why these guys need to be Brits at all, the Bank of England ain't box office.
This is what I want you to work on: women, Tom. Big news this year. Women and satire and Oliver Stone. This is how I see it:
Natural Born Traders. Demi Moore is Nica Leesona, sassy if dysfunctional broad from the wrong side of the tracks. After a childhood of abuse by her labourer father (Al Pacino in a flashback cameo), she hooks up with sociopathic bond trader Dex (I see Keanu Reeves here). They set out to blaze a trail across the south east Asian markets, leaving no casualties: everyone they trade with ends up bankrupt. But apart from the odd scene out far-east we gotta set it all in Wall Street; in Peoria they think Singapore is a skin treatment.
Under the tutelage of grizzled old arbitrageur Bobby Maxwell (Paul Newman, or Michael Douglas if we can offer him love interest) they work on this great heist, how they'll take the whole system. But none of your derivatives and financial instruments and synthetic futures. They end up having to use Uzis, Tom, blitz the market in slo-mo, screens shattering and blood gushing from Maxwell's guts in black and white.
They fetch up in some exotic paradise where Demi goes topless (note to accounts, add two extra points to her percentage). Just as they're beginning to get bored and planning to bankrupt each other with the help of a yuppie beach bum (Brad Pitt) they are tracked down by Eddie Georgiano, chainsmoking ex-mobster turned investigative reporter for CNN (Ray Liotta). Now Eddie doesn't turn them in, oh no, he offers them their own prime-time show, worldwide projection, giving financial advice. They become media stars, Tom, and the picture ends with them about to negotiate to buy back the bank they busted. The head of the bank, this Peter Boring: wrong, Tom. We need a woman. You do not need brains to be the head of one of these banks so let's get Goldie Hawn to play this Peter guy.
It's a new genre Tom, we are talking financial road movie satire, Tom, Wall Street meets Die Hard, The Player meets Rising Sun. It's a satire of the whole capitalist thing and the way the media makes heroes out of rich guys. It's Life, Tom, but not as we know it.Reuse content