But I hadn’t spoken to anyone for a few days and I was only wandering up and down the high street to get out of my flat. When he asked me why I’d overvalued my company’s shares and sold up before anyone noticed, I thought it was a bit weird but I played along. Told him I was partial to a large macchiato and I had to pay for it somehow.
I probably should have realised it wasn’t some sort of prank when he asked if there was anything I’d like to say to the thousands of people who lost their pensions. It’s not the sort of question someone asks as a joke but I didn’t think of that at the time. I told him I was sure they’d manage with a small cup of tea and threw in something about how you can make a pension last longer by re-using tea bags.
It was only when he asked if I’d grown a beard to disguise myself and I told him I’ve had my beard for more than ten years and he shouldn’t be cheeky that the penny dropped: he thought I was someone else.
He frowned and went quiet, which made me think perhaps he wasn’t doing one of those joke things when some overpaid comedian runs out of material so he makes the sort of people who watch his show look stupid. When I thought about it later, I realised he was frowning because it had just occurred to him that you’d been on the telly a couple of weeks ago with no more than that silly goatee of yours, and there was more than two weeks of growth between you and me.
I’d seen you myself. Not much to do but watch the news, so I tend to know what’s going on. I knew about your pump and dump, as they called it. So now I knew that this boy reporter, who was still a few years away from your level of facial hair and a lot more years away from mine, had got it into his head that I was you.
I probably should have set him straight instead of ducking into Starbucks for that coffee I didn’t want – a straightforward latte, if you’re interested, not a macchiato – and leaving him to get over his moment of doubt. So yes, I’m the beardy bloke who is all over the news this morning under headlines calling you a callous and insensitive fraudster who makes bad coffee quips.
I’m writing to say I’m sorry about that. Not that they’re calling you a callous and insensitive fraudster, because we both know that part is true. I’m only sorry that you got blamed for my bad tea and coffee quips. They were awful.