I’m on one of those breaks which I have to take occasionally, to take stock. I’ve just finished a short story – Master Yehudi’s Flying Circus – which I consider to be of sufficient artistic merit to be submitted for publication in print. I’ve almost finished the first chapter of the second book, The Inner Leviathan but that particular background project is taking longer than it should while I sort out a few directional issues. Time to read and to watch movies in my savage cinema but first to clear some thoughts…
At the forefront of my mind is a particular debt I’m owed. Having recently been awarded a not insubstantial sum of money in back pay for my PIP claim, I spent it. I was only slightly irresponsible, lavishing about a monkey on myself: the tattoos, a new office set up and various bits for the crib. Another 500 paid off an old debt. A sum of money paid for my wife’s divorce petition, which was of course uncontested. It’s the least I could do for the girl who tolerated me for so long and who remains a wonderful mum to our two kids. Further monies – undisclosed amounts but totalling four figures – were loaned to friends. The larger amounts have been lent to trusted, close friends who have a good track record of repayments. A few smaller amounts went to some of the girls and by nature of our very relationships, the loans will be repaid. One of the most insignificant loan amounts was granted with my full knowledge that it could turn into a toxic debt. When in the money lending game on any scale, certain things are to be expected, including defaults. That’s why lenders have insurance.
When someone loans you money, you enter into a legally binding verbal contract. That may not be strictly true but it’s irrelevant because where I come from, that’s not how it works anyway. In my part of London, it works like this:
Underlying everything is an expectation of respect, especially towards those to whom you are indebted. Sometimes the debts are such that you are in their service. Respect encompasses many things and is a two-way street. Communication is part of it. If someone owes me money and they are unable to repay me on an agreed date, I respect them for having the decency to at least let me know. It’s usually not a problem, I’m grateful for being told, I extend the deadline and it saves me a lot of hassle. The hassle comes later. One of the ultimate disrespectful things to do when you owe someone money in London, is to voice contempt for your creditors. This is a very unwise thing to do because talk like that gets back to people. Obviously words get twisted but a slip of the tongue could prove costly if lenders detect that you may not intend to pay them back. In that instance, a debtor has stolen from a family. I’ll give the debtor a period of grace: typically two or three days.
I still have ties to a family in London, both personal and financial. I owe them money and we have agreements and trust in place. These are not the sort of people anyone would be wise to default on. When there’s been an issue in the past, we’ve discussed it, or I’ve done someone a favour in kind at a local level. Ultimately I’ll call in a favour of my own from them.
Before it gets that messy though, I’ll always do as much as I can to work with my debtor. I might take payments in installments, or add interest and extend the loan period. All of this can be done with the simple application of communication. If I’ve not heard anything from my debtor within a set period of time, I’ll call in a local favour. I really don’t have time to chase debtors around and I don’t want to get my hands messy. I really wouldn’t wish what I’ve dished out in the past on many people and my record for violent offences is long enough. The local favours cost nothing more than a phone call. The debt isn’t increased because the reminder doesn’t need to be paid for. Usually that gentle nudge will do the trick.
If all else fails, then it’s the last resort: the one which I do all that I can to avoid because it simply costs so many people so much. I don’t call in the family as such but I sell the debt. Many commercial lenders do exactly the same thing, passing a debt to an organisation which specialises in collections. Just like a loan company, I’ll sell the debt at a slight loss. Using the debt I’m addressing at the moment as a case in point, I will sell it at 75% of face value: £30. Better 75% of something than 100% of nothing. The creditor no longer owes me anything at all. Our business is concluded and the £10 face value loss is a price worth paying for whatever happens next being out of my hands.
The debtor no longer owes me but because I’ve sold the debt to someone else, they now have a new creditor. That creditor will always collect their debts. I’ve only known a few not to be repaid but they were repaid in other ways eventually. The new creditor will incur additional costs in collecting the debt, not least of which being travel from London. So the original loan amount has increased and it’s that new amount which becomes due to creditors far less patient and accommodating than me. So as people know, it’s always good to talk to me if you have problems.
Just so we’re clear.
I’m retiring from writing for the day and with a bit of luck, for the weekend. But the best laid plans of mice… Something normally crops up in the weekend newspapers or the weekend itself to give me an idea for a story. It happened last night when I was reading Atheist Republic and an article grabbed me. Now, as soon as I’ve cleared my mind, the next short-term project is provisionally entitled A Fairytale From the Green Inferno. Shortly I shall move from the cradle of filth writing studio part of this wonky little place to the savage cinema living area for one of my occasional themed triple bill binges. I’m thinking Sonny Chiba, getting paid to fuck people up.