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Spend & Save

Donald MacInnes: Revenge was not so sweet with John Major's bad breath

In The Red

Last week I hinted at the economic dog's dinner that was my early working life. When last we spoke, I was under threat of nastiness from the (wholly beyond reproach) Next empire, having run up a store card balance that resembled the long number on my actual store card.

Thankfully, although the letters I received were getting increasingly angry, I may have been exaggerating last time when I suggested that I had been threatened by the Glaswegian equivalent of the Corleone family. Anyway, the actual Glaswegian equivalent of the Corleone family makes the actual Corleone family look like the Cosbys.

After I had been threatened with CCJs and various other forms of punitive darkness, I faced the music and managed to convince Next not to do me any harm, real or fiscal.

I arranged to pay them the balance over a few months, as long as I promised only to shop in Top Man from then on. That agreement still holds, incidentally. Alarms wail when I enter Next.

You would think this experience would have wised me up, but not so. I was then involved in a run-in with those happy-go-lucky, pay-us-anytime-you-like types at the Council Tax office (sky darkens… thunder cracks… horses whinny).

Displaying the kind of intellectual acumen that would shame a bucket of sand, I ignored a series of demands for me to pay up and soon found out why, in German, the words for "Council Tax" and "terrifying retribution" are practically the same. One day, I tried to use an ATM and discovered that Mrs Thatcher's Government had frozen my bank account. If you have never had this happen to you, I wouldn't recommend it. I was forced into asking my poor old Granny to delve into her savings and pay off my debt.

Thankfully, I was able to get some measure of revenge. Years later, I met Lady Thatcher's replacement, John Major, who granted me one of his last interviews as Prime Minister.

Although he was a genuinely nice lad, in payback for his party having caused me so much heartache, I included in my story the fact that his breath had smelled like a baboon's leotard (which it genuinely had).

My editor at the time was almost levitating with rage when he saw this nugget of information in my feature. But by then it was too late. The truth was out there.

A couple of days later Mr Major was booted out of No 10 by Tony Blair's high-kicking caravan of showbiz love.

In retrospect, if my revelation about Johnny's halitosis had anything to do with this change of power, I can only apologise.