Tag Archives: Richard Branson

Sir Big Swinging Dick calls. Does he care?

No, he doesn’t. Says he wishes us well and then quickly moves on to the real reason for the call.

“Bernie,” he asks. “Have you ever waxed your legs?” Formula One has no shortage of weirdos.

Sorry, I tell him, but I’m afraid it never crossed my mind. Been through a lot in those eighty years, but this bit never came up. Why the question? Do I want to know?

“It’s this bet I had with Tony Fernandes. The one about serving as a stewardess in the other’s airline.”

Ah yes. Tony and BSD had a bet who would end higher in the Championship. Big Swinging Dick lost and now he has to do a stint as a stewardess on Air Asia. But why the waxing?

“Well, I’ll tell you, Bernie, Tony’s not the one you want to lose a bet with. He’s now come up with a lot of extra stuff I have to do to make true on the bet. Wants me to shave my legs, put on make up, wear high heels and clean toilets!

“The worst of it is, he’s stealing a leaf out of my book. I’m the one that’s supposed to come up with stunts like that. So I’ll have to go one up on him. I’ve no choice. He wants my legs shaved, I’ll wax ’em. He wants some make up on my face, I’ll put on the full works. In fact I’m trying out lipstick and mascara as we speak. Great stuff, you know. Because I’m worth it!

The mugging must’ve affected me more than I thought. The idea of having Big Swinging Dick on the phone while he’s putting on lipstick in front of a vanity mirror, so soon after that other traumatic experience, is more than I can handle.

Awfully sorry, I say, but I’ve no experience with either waxing my legs or putting on lip shade. In fact, in all those years I’ve never even left the house in drag, believe it or not. Now if you’ll excuse me? I’ve work to do.

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Sir Big Swinging Dick is pissed off

He doesn’t take kindly to me calling him a cripple. It didn’t take long. Hardly did my Financial Times interview hit the news stands or my phone starts to make orgasm sounds: Branson’s ringtone. I’ll have to ask my beautiful assistant to put him back under my generic ringtone again, Once upon a Time in the West, or else one of these days he’ll call on the wrong moment and I’ll have some explaining to do.

Anyway, he was livid. “Bernie,” he rages, “Did you actually call me a cripple? By name? In the FT, of all places? What have I done to you? It’s uncool!”

Well, I say, I called your team a cripple. That’s not the same thing. And I did mention you by name as someone who should have a couple million quid to spare. Which in my book is positive. And I did compare your with Dieter Mateschitz, what’s wrong with that?

“I don’t bloody care if you’ve compared me to bloody Mateshit or anybody else for that matter. What matters is, you’ve ridiculed my racing team and put me on the spot as some kind of pauper! People’ve already started to ask me if it’s true that I just pay them enough to stay alive and nothing else. The bloke I bought the FT from actually forced me to take the change!”

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Mooning F1

Late night call from Sir Big Swinging Dick. He’s on of his Big Branson Ideas again. “Bernie'” he says, “Are you still worrying how to get enough spectators to that US Grand Prix of yours?”

I point out that it’s not me worrying about that, but Tavo Hellmund and the Comptroller of the State of Texas. But he’s not listening. Probably had a couple of Martinis too many at the Paddock Bar.

“D’you know what’s drawing the big crowds in California right now?” he blares. I must admit that nothing in particular springs to mind. The World Soccer Championship, perhaps? “Nope. It’s mooning.”

Mooning?

“Yep. Organised mooning. I’m not making this up. They moon trains. Gather at the tracks and wait till the train’s coming. At the signal they all drop their pants and moon the train. You know, full Moon? Two each, actually. Get it?

I get it. So what do you want to do, have people moon the drivers when they race by? Won’t they be going a little bit too fast for that?

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Richard Branson calls

Barely have I finished my memo to Boris Johnson, or my phone starts making orgasm sounds. That’s the ringtone I use for Sir Big Swinging Dick.

Good morning Bernie, he blares into the phone. I see you’re getting big time into street racing these days! That’s a great stunt you boys pulled in front of Westminster Abbey this morning. Mind if do the same in Las Vegas one of these days?

As a matter of fact I do, I tell him. In fact, very much so. To start with, I’m in charge of circuits and no one else is. Second, I know you keep going on about Las Vegas but let’s do Texas first, shall we? Let’s try and see if the US can handle one race, and if it does we can always go to two. And third, it wasn’t me who pulled that stunt, it was the Red Bull gang and they’re in for a lot of trouble. As will you, if I see any more unauthorised street racing. Is that clear?

Wohoho, Bernie, he says, no need to get all bonkers on me. It was just an idea, you know. Thinking out aloud. I still think the Vegas Strip is a splendid idea, though. Or else the streets of San Fransisco. I mean, can you imagine those F1 cars going down Lombard Street?

I hang up before I start to tell him where he can stick his Lombard Street fantasies.

Sir Big Swinging Dick’s been lying low lately…

… so I thought I’d stir things up a bit. Told the ladies and gentlemen of the press that we might lose a rookie team or two before the end of the season. And guess whose team sits firmly at the bottom of the rankings?

It only took a few minutes. Instead of my favourite Ennio Morricone soundtrack my phone belches out orgasm sounds. Note to self: ask Fabiana to change the ringtone for Richard Branson – it was a nice joke for a while, but when it happens in company you always have explaining to do.

Hello Richard, I say, what can I do for you? Sir Swinging Dick is not amused. How could you do that? he shouts. Everybody and his mate is calling me and I have to keep telling people that we’re in it for the long run. Which means at least for the next month in Branson’s case, but I decide not to mention that.

Well, I say, you could start with getting your cars to the finish line. I mean, isn’t that what racing is all about? To drive your way back to the paddock, rather than walk? Continue reading

Richard Branson calls

Seems he reads my blog. Sir Big Swinging Dick saw yesterday’s post about me being interviewed and thought I needed some advice. Told him I really didn’t need any, given that refusing any interviews seems a much better solution for me. ‘Great!’ he says and starts offering me his advice anyway.

“First, don’t prepare. Wing it. I’m looking at the body language in your photo and you look way too prepared. Stifles spontaneity.” Actually, too much spontaneity seems to me my real problem but there’s no stopping him. “Second, choose a dynamic setting. I often invite them to my island and give them a taste of the real life.” I don’t have an island but decide against telling him. He’s on a roll.

“Third, whatever you do, don’t look boring. Go parasailing with a naked girl on your back in full view of the cameras, anything but don’t look boring. Journalists love that. They’ll give you the best press ever.”

Parasailing with a naked girl? That’s the last straw. I find an excuse, tell him I hope he’ll get at least one car to the finish line in Melbourne and hang up.