Chapter 3 - Fart in a bottle and other legal niceties
“This is your office,” Bryan said to me the next day. It didn’t look like an office, which was because it was a lounge, complete with 68” screen TV, six-seater sofa arranged at perfect flopping distance from the TV, with outlying poufs, bean-bags and giant inflatable badgers, all dating back to the day when Bryan thought he’d buy 500 giant inflatable badgers.
“My office?” I said, my voice betraying the twin confusions that: a) that this could in any way be conceived an office, and b) that I would want a fucking office in the first place.
“Every charity needs an HQ. And until we make enough money for permanent office space, you can use this. I’ve got three other lounges and frankly my accountant tells me I can make a massive tax write-off by using my home for charitable purposes.”
Oh, I’d forgotten about the charity thing. “I don’t know Bryan, this is all happening a bit quickly. I mean, the charity doesn’t even have a name.”
“It’s called Mid Life Crisis, Danny, just what it says on the tin. Elton John came up with the idea, he says as soon as he turns 40 he’ll join up, though he’s not admitting to 40 until he’s at least 90, so we’ll have to wait ‘til next year for that one.”
“Mid Life Crisis”. I let the words feel their way round my mouth. “But can you call a charity that?” It seemed to lack the seriousness of the charities I knew. I’d never heard of a charity for sufferers of piles called ‘Ow my arse” nor was there a dehydration charity called “Gasping for one”.
Apparently you can call a charity that. Bryan had invited his lawyer round for lunch. Kevin Royel, from Royel, Felch and Smelter. He’d brought a bunch of forms. “You need a long name as well,” he said during a game of catch the fart in the bottle, “something that explains what the charity is for.”
He scribbled something on his laptop. Okay, he didn’t scribble, he typed, but I’m trying to create an atmosphere here, and please bear in mind that I’m still wearing my prescription sunglasses so I don’t even know what colour shirt he was wearing, the whole period is swathed in darkness.
“To support adult male UK citizens as they reach middle age, i.e. from the age of 40 and upwards; providing advocacy, advice and information and to lobby for the rights of said citizens at local and national level.”
Kevin Royel is the lawyer to the stars, popular not just because he has one of the finest legal minds in the known universe, but because he behaves like a rock star himself.
Fart in the bottle was Kevin’s invention. The aim of the game is very much what you’d expect from the title, to catch your fart in a bottle and to set light to said fart before it can escape. The need for speed and accuracy make it a game of rare skill. Plus, it’s much safer than lighting your farts, especially when drunk, when even farts have a tendency to stagger from the straight and narrow.
“I once represented a man who had blowback burns,” Kevin explained, “and during the court case I learnt so much about the dangers of lighting farts that I decided to come up with a safe alternative.
“Represented? But who could you sue if you burn yourself lighting your own farts?”
“The council of course. They should have put up warning signs saying ‘please do not light your farts on council grounds’. We got £175,000 from them.” I then had the foresight to buy shares in the local signmakers, so I made even more money when they forked out umpteen million on vast numbers of no fart-lighting signs.
The lunch continued in liquid form, Guiness and brandy all round. Kevin explained the legal niceties of forming a charity. I would need trustees.
“Oh, I’ll make some calls,” said Bryan sprightly, “I’ll ring Bono, he knows everyone in the world over 40.”
“I’ll write up what you said about the charity aims for the memorandum and articles,” Keven said to me. We both knew I hadn’t said anything whatsoever, but I was willing to play along with the game.
“This will be the registered office address?” Kevin said to Bryan, who nodded agreement. When there is serious drinking on the table Bryan often goes without speaking, and Kevin was one of the few people in the world who could provide anything like a challenge on matters of consuming vast amounts of alcohol.
Meetings with Kevin are essentially a drinking game with law thrown in. By the end of the afternoon I’d fallen asleep in a drunken stupor. I was woken by a gentle nudge from Kevin’s elbow.
“I just need you to sign here,” he said, handing me some paper.
“Whaaa!” I said, in still-asleep garble.
“The legal forms to establish Mid Life Crisis as a charity. I’ll fill in the details back in the office, but it’ll save time if you sign it now.”
I added my drunken scrawl.
This, I am told, is how every single national charity is formed, a mad drunken idea, someone with a spare wad of cash and a lawyer willing to do the necessaries for a bottle of brandy.