Hello world. Here’s an extract from my new novel. I’m so excited about it, just because…well, I think it might be good (if I say so myself). I have that scared, tingly feeling when I work on it. Like I’m creating a monster…anyway, here’s that start:
Richard Peterson-Fife was the head of a vast, powerful retail empire. Dominating the UK and Europe, he ran a chain of small holistic shops, specialising in alternative remedies. He named them, Apothecary. Each one sold a huge plethora of herbal pills, candles, essential oils, and spiritual health paraphernalia. Richard, or ‘Dickie’, to his immediates, fancied himself as a new-age, self-made ‘King of Quirky’ hippie. A saviour for the alternative. He strolled around dressed in garish coloured suits and flares, claiming to be lord and master and icon of all things good, and noble. Fair-trade this, and hand-made that, the truth, was disturbingly different. His hair grew past the shoulders, was purest white, and scattered with dirty plaits and beading. He stood at a towering six-foot seven inches, and, had a grotesque pot-belly which he thrust forward proudly. A signature of his ill-earned wealth. Yes. Richard Peterson-Fife was truly a despicable and dishonourable man. Externally, he was repulsive, sleazy, lecherous, but inside, he was much much worse. And yet, bafflingly, they loved him. The people that worked for him, amazingly, loved him. But that’s because they didn’t know. Were unaware of how he had built his vast money-making machine. And that was because he made them believe.
There would be no doubt to the soulless demons of business, that Dickie had truly discovered a genius way to make millions. A way to get people to work with their souls, and dedicate their lives for very little in return. The message he preached from the very beginning, was that if they worked within this industry, they did good for the people. Provided a service. In a western word eternally struggling with spiritual beliefs, feeling ever suppressed by the standard nine-to-five work place, he saw that in giving an escape from this would attract staff who would take lesser pay. If he made them believe that they were really doing good, that they would help their customers by selling them products that would make them feel happier, make them lose weight, have better sex, a good night’s sleep, then they, would be warriors in a new age spiritual war against ‘The Suits’. Yes. They could be as crazy and eccentric as they wished. They could sport any hairstyle they liked, show off their tattoos, be as outlandish and visually weird and wonderful as they wanted, and all for minimum wage.
“Be who you are!” he preached at his annual conventions, in which all management were invited, “Take your business and mould and shape it as you please! Add you own personal stint into your very own ‘Apothecary’ and inject your personality!”
They applauded furiously. A sea of wild hair styles, heavily tattooed females and thrash punks; all felt they fitted. All felt they had found, finally, a work place in which they could be themselves. For this they felt privileged, so happy they were accepted. A place fitting for the misfits. And for this, they asked for no pension, no benefits, and no wage increase. By the time their dire financial situation became apparent, they were trapped. Felt unable to wear a suit again, dye their hair brown, and go back amongst the grey faces of the office.
The fact that that Dickie let them run the shops how they pleased also meant that loyalty was strict, and thus he had a low staff turnover. This meant he saved a lot of money. But the way that he truly made a profit was far more disgusting and unethical than any of them could ever have known, or imagined. His main factory was situated in the UK. No one, bizarrely, ever questioned its size. So blinded by the colours of each other, the bohemian tribe that were the workforce never took time out to wonder, just for a few moments, how a factory of the capacity it was managed to accommodate all two hundred and forty-nine shops nationally. The truth was, he had a factory elsewhere. A top secret, high production facility that produced sixty-two per cent of all the goods sold in Apothecary. And the location, and workers of this factory? Taiwan, and orphans. Yes. Richard Peterson-Fife, due any day for a knighthood, the ultimate good-guy, the nice, down to earth, billionaire with his cheeky quirky smile, was in reality a slave driving, money laundering scumbag. And none of them knew.