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Who Wants to be a Millionaire ?

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Being an avid student of the modern film era, I tuned in the other day to catch the 1953 movie ’The Million Pound Note’ which starred Gregory Peck (the 1950’s equivalent of Tom Hanks) and is an adaptation of a Mark Twain short story.


The basic plot is that a down and out played by Peck is given a million pound note which if he can avoid spending it for a month and survive, then he will be entitled to a well remunerated position in any number of companies owned by his ‘benefactors’.


The rest of the film involves scenes where despite his protestations he could not spend the note as each retailer, hotelier or restaurateur refused to accept payment from him in recognition of his clearly documented wealth.


This reminded me of a former customer from the Potteries who played poker in his spare time. A few years ago he went to Vegas to play in a tournament accompanied by his brother and after the first week he was still in the competition. Having racked up around £5,000 on their hotel bill they had to make the decision whether to stay on and potentially double their liability or to go home. He remained someway from prize money in the tournament, but they decided to stay.


In outcome he was runner up, losing only in the final to a local hero in a Stetson. His prize for coming second was $1.7M. As he checked out the Hotel Manager was effusive in his praise of the Englishman’s prowess at the tables and readily tore up the bill saying it had been a pleasure and that he would be welcome at any time in the future to stay at his hotel free of charge whilst he played his tables.


The moral here seems to be that the more money you have the more you get. I once knew a business that was engaged in roofing and regularly held five figure credit balances at their bank. Nonetheless they continued to provide monthly management accounts to their bank manager. He in turn regularly entertained them with lunches and events. Following a particularly bad winter the company had a cash flow issue and sought borrowing for the first time. By then of course they were showing losses and the cash had gone. The bank declined and a couple of months later the company had gone bust.


If I tell you that the poker guy‘s business also went bust and he ended with a costly divorce from his wife which blew away most of his winnings then perhaps this reinforces the message that wealth can be transitory.


For those businesses that know the true value of forward planning and financial prudence then we at the South Cheshire Development Agency remain open for business. We don’t do hospitality or offer fawning praise as with either the Poker Man or the Million Pound Note Man. We will however provide a sound business like basis for looking at assisting your company’s development.


Anyone who has tried to offload a £50 note locally will know how difficult this can be but if you do have the Million Pound variety in your pocket I would be happy to tag along – purely for research purposes.

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