In an unusual twist, Sir Fred Godalming asks a question that Tony is more accustomed to asking others. At least this time Boaks is the one laughing.
"What's so funny?" said Sir Fred, after declaring himself the 'Blofeld of Banking.'
"Nothing, I suppose," I said, with tears running down my legs. "But you might want to reconsider that title before attending the Conference for Failed Bankers Turned Criminal Masterminds."
"Too aggressive?" he said.
"I imagine there may be stiff competition for the title," I replied. "Certainly in those circles. You can at least expect a challenge from Bernard Madolph." I knew that although Madolph was serving time, he used a body double to allow him to attend such key events in the criminal masterminds' diary.
"You could be right," said Sir Fred. "Bernard has never forgiven me for amassing my fortune without breaking the law. Although I don't think he has any real claim to the title as he's not technically a banker."
"He's hardly a mastermind either. He got caught."
"He's technically a criminal though. 150 years in Pentonville State is fairly conclusive."
"That's only two out of four."
"Yes," said Sir Fred. "But he deserves extra points for outstanding effort." Godalming was right. It takes a monumental force of will to sustain an $80bn fraud over 30 years.
"In any event," I said, "you should probably be focussing on your speech. Have you planned anything?"
"Only the announcement of my new underground operation," he replied. "I expect it to raise eyebrows, and in Bernard's case, probably much more."
"Yes," I said. "It won't just be the competition that's stiff."