The (original) Wolf of Wall Street

Last night we went to see The Wolf of Wall Street. I had a conference call at 10pm our time so was trying to work out what time the film would end. In the rest of the world it is three hours long. Here it is two hours and twenty minutes.
“Why such a difference?” I asked Rupert as we pulled into the car park. images
Yep, you guessed it. Censors. Sadly we realised too late.
And while the length was good for my business commitment, it was not good for the film. It was a mess. Several scenes made no sense. Several sentences were mangled as the censors tried to block out every single f*** (547 of them apparently). We felt robbed. And I knew there was more to it than what we had just seen. Partly because I’ve seen the trailer, but also because I know one of the Wall Street types the film portrays.
Brad, as I will call him, was at Durham University with me. He is American and immediately acquired a certain reputation as “loud”. Loud is an understatement. This boy could (and often did) wake up the entire city of Durham, roaming the streets in the early hours singing (and I use that term loosely) ‘you’ve got to FIGHT for your RIGHT to PAAARRRTTYYYYY’. He was my best boyfriend. And I mean boy friend. We share a birthday and, back then, we both had an overwhelming desire to party. Hard to believe I know, but I was wild in those days. Although not as wild as Brad. One of his most famous party tricks was to put his BMW on cruise control, tell me to steer, open the sunroof, climb out and then climb back in again through the window. All on the motorway, going at 90 miles an hour, in the freezing North-Eastern winter. He was also the only student I ever met who thought nothing of showing up at a party with a crate of champagne. My kind of guy. Where did he get the money to buy champagne? He convinced his parents back in the US that Thresher’s was the student book shop.
Sadly after just one fun-filled year he was thrown out of university. I missed him terribly, as did Thresher’s. He went to Wall Street and became even wilder. I remember visiting him, well actually I don’t remember that much of the visit, but there were stretch limos involved and I did feel like I was in a film. On another visit I was rather surprised to stumble over his pet alligator on the landing.
Brad never stopped fighting for his right to party. He also made a lot of money. But once Jordan Belfort gave the FBI and the SEC access to his little black book, the party was over.
Brad is fine, after a few rather harrowing years fighting for his right to stay out of jail. But one thing is certain, even now his life has a lot more spice than the version of the film I saw last night. I just hope he gets his passport back one day so his goddaughter Bea can finally meet him. Although she might quite like a trip to the US…

I’m in the money

Well, not really, but for the first time since I started this blog in November 2006 someone has paid to advertise on it. And I still have to set up the PayPal account to actually get the money, but I feel this is a bit of a  breakthrough.

Rupes will be most impressed. he has been complaining that the books and the blog are a “luxury”, because they don’t really make any money. The other day he showed me a brilliant cartoon from the New Yorker with a man telling his agent he wants to write a book.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” says the agent. “If you really want $800 that badly, I’ll just give it to you.”

I think though that for books (and the blog) money is not really the point. I am already thinking about the next novel, in fact I have started it, and I am thinking about characters, plot-lines, themes, names and so on. The one thing I am not thinking about is money. Or lack of it.

I have also been given a bit of a helping hand with the new novel as my first love showed up in Abu Dhabi this week. Regular blog readers will know him as Heathcliff. I first met him when I was a teenager and was madly in love with him (unrequited, nach) for too many years. Obviously this theme has been done before, look at the hugely successful novel One Day, for example or Turgenev’s novella First Love. But as my father says: “There is nothing original since God said ‘let there be light'”. So watch this space.

Am looking for a good title if anyone has any ideas, just don’t expect to be paid….

Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2011

Money, money, money

I have decided that the point of being rich is not how many designer handbags you can buy, although of course that is a perk, but that it makes your life much easier in many ways.

If you are rich, you can employ someone to do all those things that make your life tedious, like deleting the spam comments on your blog, or getting the internet connection at home fixed, or organising your annual car insurance or calling the plumber.

This may not be a mind-blowing revelation, but I have come to realise that we may never be able to leave Abu Dhabi because to a much lesser extent we have that here.

As I write my driver is collecting the home entertainment system box we have had mended. My housemaid or ‘bonne‘ as the French rather more charmingly call them, is buying vegetables in the supermarket to cook our lunch with. I am at work, relaxed and zen, even though it is press day.

The thought of going back to a life where it was just me doing all that stuff is horrible. I just can’t imagine it. In fact it’s a miracle I am as well-balanced as I am after 25 years of ironing.

My mother finally arrived this morning after a week’s delay thanks to the unpronounceable volcano. It is so lovely to see her. I just called to see if they are all OK.

“We can’t do anything right now, because we are playing luxury hotels and Mormor (granny in Swedish) is playing with us and is going to have a luxury suite,” Olivia told me.

So you see, we don’t need to be rich at all, we have everything we could possible need anyway.

Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2010

Money not so funny

Am I the only person out there who isn’t saving any money? A financial advisor came to see me the other day and suggested we put away some cash every month for our future. “Even if it’s only 500 pounds a month”.
Only 500 pounds?? I almost fell off my chair. We’d be lucky to have 5 pounds a month left over. So I started to try to work out where we could cut corners.

leo and piano
As I write Leo is learning to play the piano. We spend hundreds of pounds a year on their “activities” which include golf, tennis, ballet, musical theatre, football and guitar. The music lessons are by far the most expensive. So far all Leo really does is play Old McDonald had a farm over and over and over again. But I’m sure things will improve.
Playing the piano is one the things I always wish I could do. In fact in England I even started having lessons. I never got to the giddy heights of Old McDo but I loved it.
So what else? Well, there are life’s little luxuries like Laura Mercier Primer, matching underwear and manicures. Can I do without them? No, obviously not. What about Rupert’s golf lessons? Those we can definitely do without, he’s good enough at golf. If he gets too good at he’ll beat his boss, then he’ll never get a pay rise and we’ll never start saving.
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2009