Simon Carr: The Kitchen Capitalist

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The Independent Online

The story so far: the author has sold his house to finance a manufacturing project in the hope of making a small fortune to finance his old age...

I'm trying to believe that it is justified, spending £3,000 on going to China "to supervise production". I've been saying (a little too grandly, to be honest) that this is how I'll be spending my summer. A hint of resignation. Brave, of course. It would be unlike me to complain. Now I have to work out why it's worth the money when the production almost certainly doesn't need supervising.

Fifteen hundred pounds for a business-class ticket. That's a lot. Considering the work I've done persuading myself out of business class, it is a psychological triumph that I am even considering it.

The argument that I use against myself is brutal. There's a thousand pounds difference between business and beast class. If I offered you that thousand pounds to sit in an armchair watching TV while servants brought you food and drink for a day and a half - would you take it? There's also a chance that there'll be a sofa and you can spread out. Do you take the money? You have to, don't you? How can you justify not? You can't. It's unjustifiable.

The financial logic is impeccable. But I realise, at some level, that I've decided to go business class anyway. That's a nuisance. How do I explain that to myself? I need to believe something else - and quickly. How can I be so weak, that's what I want to know.

There's knowledge of what one does at check-in. Reality isn't promising. We all compose what we'd say to our executioner, don't we. But when it comes to it, I fear something very different would come bubbling forth. My own preferred exit words, as the jihadist draws back his halal blade, are: "This is all very inconvenient, you know." But judging by how I behave in airports, it's not going to happen. The begging, the biting back tears, the offering to pay for an upgrade... my behaviour under pressure is entirely devoid of grace.

No, I've got to justify it somehow, this wholly unjustifiable expense. Won't my performance be affected at the other end? Won't I be sharper and faster? More decisive? More demanding of my suppliers? Contractually cleverer? (No to all.)

Come on, come on. Entrepreneurs are like politicians - we can believe anything we want to.

Maybe there is something I can believe. These terrorist attacks. It's impossible to imagine a bomb going off on my plane, and a long, tumbling dive to the ground... That can't happen to me, obviously. But there is one certain thing: there'll be airport chaos, and delayed flights, and nothing allowed on board to read or listen to. And with the delays and cancelled flights, I might be bumped out of my business-class seat. I might have to sit at the back with the economic migrants cooking their chickens over a portable grill and the ethnic women giving birth.

I could just not go. Because of the terrorist threat, you understand. Let me work on it.