double standards

Bad day at the office 11

General Election 2015: UK Bank CEO Cleopatra LeGrande wants a strong leader who will back bullying

Cleopatra LeGrande General Election

Cleopatra LeGrande is chief executive of UK Cash Cowboys

 Every day until the final week of the election campaign Jeremy Trough, Political Editor at The Daily Profit, asks a business leader to say what politics would entice them to vote for a particular party.


CLEOPATRA LEGRANDE, CEO UK CASH COWBOYS: “I will vote for the party who has the most ruthless leader. A psycho, basically. Callous, cold-hearted despotism is essential for success – whether in business, crime or politics. I want to be represented by a total bastard who couldn’t give a toss what people think about them, both at home and on the world stage. And I desperately want a leader who will represent the few – not the many – in a greedy, cut-throat, pitiless United Kingdom.”

JEREMY TROUGH: “So more tax breaks for millionaires then?”

CLEOPATRA LEGRANDE: “Quite. It is also important to have a government which will champion sadistic, iron-fisted business leaders like myself, and encourage bullying and intimidation in all sectors. I want a government brave enough to repeal the slavery act and the minimum working wage, tackle all this nonsense about equal opportunities and paternity leave. Oh, and treble tuition fees for working class students, so we take a broom to the low-life plebs clogging up our universities. Education should be for rich, arrogant people like me who are in a position to use it to maximum advantage. And so end once and for all, the anti-competitive, altruistic cancer eating away at Banks’ profits. I mean, a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay? What creepy little PC turd came up with that bunch of crap? Gandhi? Get a life, for Christ’s sake. The truth is we cannot afford not to introduce despotism if we really want world class bullying that works for bank bosses like me, my cronies and filthy rich people in general, like our Chairman Sir Rich Pickle.”

JEREMY TROUGH: “I’m guessing that rules out the Lib Dems then.”

CLEOPATRA LEGRANDE: “Is that supposed to be some kind of joke? You only have to look at their logo, it’s like someone’s chucked up on the pavement, and nobody’s going anywhere near it. When they talk about fairness to me, they’re radioactive. I will vote for you only if you put terrifying, remorseless greed at the heart of all you do. With policies that ensure a strong and growing salary and bonus package for bank CEOs, with a tax regime and immigration policy that lets me absolutely treat my staff like concentration camp trash. I think we can destroy health, education and the other deeply wasteful public services that are a drain on my personal wealth, absolutely, yes. Next question.”

JEREMY TROUGH: “What do you think about the Conservatives manifesto pledge to reward more cut-throat, sadistic leaders like yourself with awards in the New Years’ Honours List?”

CLEOPATRA LEGRANDE: “Well, it’s progress obviously. Next level thinking. I think those kinds of forward-thinking policies are essential for a thriving economy. Feel my face, that’s stubble, that is. I didn’t get my CBE by tickling employees under the chin, big boy. I got it by destroying their lives. Squashing them flat. Humiliating them. Working them til they dropped and rubbing their faces in the dirt. Government policies should incentivise a bullying culture across all disciplines from senior bank management to internet trolls. That means encouraging vindictive, callous management practices by people from a wide range of backgrounds. It also means investing in staff demoralisation, indoctrination, disengagement and alienation, to address slackers and get the engine room of my massive salary firing.”

JEREMY TROUGH: “You are notorious for imposing impossible performance targets on your staff, for suppressing their pay and bonuses, and generally treating them like low-paid vermin while giving the impression that you’re actually a caring employer. Would you vote for a party which endorsed those kind of two-faced, double-standards?”

CLEOPATRA LEGRANDE: “Absolutely. But Christ, which party? I mean, you can’t put a cigarette paper between them when it comes to double-speak. I say, let’s find a way to tackle fair pay across the UK. A generation of young people have grown up thinking work should be fun and they should be paid a fair whack if they work hard. Complete bollocks. Clearly changes are needed to the bullying system and more can be done to exploit first time employees. I feel privileged to work in a banking sector and a country where bullying can be practiced openly and where we can vote against issues such as human rights and personal dignity. And in the end I want a government which lives by the knuckleduster and the jackboot. Only by cleansing ourselves of the weak and the poor in positions of power or responsibility can we make this country great again. This seems to me where true leadership and true integrity lie.”

JEREMY TROUGH: “So you’ll be voting Conservative then?”

CLEOPATRA LEGRANDE: “At least the Tories know how to keep the scum in their place and look after rich billionaires like me. Scrapping inheritance tax, for instance, brilliant idea. I own property all over the shop and have billions stuffed in offshore bank accounts. When I pop my clogs I want my kids to be like pigs in shit, not for all the riches I’ve spent my lifetime bleeding people dry to acquire, wasted on garbage like social services and education for the poor. For fuck’s sake.”

JEREMY TROUGH: “So Ed needn’t hold his breath on your vote then?”

CLEOPATRA LEGRANDE: “Is he really a person? Or a waxwork dummy wired up to a cliché generator? Higher tax rates for the rich? Mansion taxes? Show some imagination, Ed. Same old classic mean-spirited commy dirty tricks to rob the rich and feed the scum. What sort of cunt does he take us for? How am I supposed to keep my private jet and fleet of limousines for my personal use on the road? Those things don’t run themselves you know. I tell you, if red Ed the teenage mutant gets in and starts wading into bankers’ bonuses and obscene profits and shit like that, if he’s not careful I’ll have to pass all his extra taxes on to customers, through higher charges, fees and commissions. You start eating into my massive personal wealth, buddy, we are going to war mate, make no mistake. You will not believe how nuclear I can go. Don’t worry though, I’ll get my accountant Dave to fix it. He’ll sort it. We headhunted him from the EU.”

JEREMY TROUGH: “Okay, so we’ve established you’re voting Conservative. Any advice you’d give David Cameron about areas the Tories can do better on?”

CLEOPATRA LEGRANDE: “I’m not happy about this raising the minimum wage nonsense. Every penny extra I have to pay my employees is a penny off my multi-million pound bonus at the end of the year. What kind of incentive is that for talented despots like me to run businesses in UK plc, if we can’t screw our own employees? Brain drain? You ain’t seen nothing pal. They might change their tune when we’ve all left, switched off the lights and all they’ve got left is the scum running the country. See what that does for your GDP.”


CLEOPATRA LEGRANDE: “Plebs, working class, ordinary people. Scum.

JEREMY TROUGH: “You mean, like your employees?”

CLEOPATRA LEGRANDE: “Your words, not mine. But since you mention it, yeah. I’m the big cheese around this bank. I’m the brains behind all the important decisions, got that? Nobody dies without my say so. It’s me who has to bang heads together when aggressive sales targets aren’t met, and heads need to roll. When profits fall and my end of year bonus is under threat, someone’s got to sack family breadwinners, break up homes and encourage feelings of hopelessness and despair. It’s a tough world out there. I’m not running a bloody charity here. You fuck with my money and I’ll turn your bloody lights out.”

JEREMY TROUGH: “Since you mention charity, what about your charitable arm, UK Cash Cowboys Giving? And your new company strapline, Everyone’s Getting On. Isn’t that supposed to include employees, customers, society, good causes, the environment…?”

CLEOPATRA LEGRANDE: “Sweetheart, watch my lips. Two words. Public relations. You think I really give a mouse’s fart about good causes? Ask any of my employees, they’ll tell you what I’m really like. A complete and utter ruthless bastard. You know who’s picture I have hanging on the wall of my office?”

JEREMY TROUGH: “Churchill? JFK?”

CLEOPATRA LEGRAND: “Heinrich Himmler. Let ‘em bloody work for their soup, I say, like every other pleb. When I see someone begging on the street I think, bring back flogging and National Service. Corporal punishment would be too good for some of these parasites. I’d sort the buggers out, never mind all this free hand outs crap. Still, I suppose it’s good for the brand so I shouldn’t knock it. If it wins us a few extra customers and keeps the cash register ringing, every cloud as they say.”

JEREMY TROUGH: “I should have thought with all the PR your bank has been putting out about environmental responsibility, you’d at least be supporting a greener agenda.”

CLEOPATRA LEGRANDE: “Ha ha ha. The Greens? What’s that all about, windmills? Ha ha. Lol, as they say. Don’t, you’ll give me the giggles. C’mon love, get real. Wake up and smell the Frappuccino. Twenty-first Century, hello? What am I supposed to fly my private jet on, fresh air? Sod that. Green means higher taxes sweetheart. Higher taxes are bad for business, and bad for my personal fortune. Who needs the rainforests anyway? You can have ‘em. Waste of good car-parking revenue. Do you know where I can pick one up cheap?”

JEREMY TROUGH: “Politicians have been talking a lot about ‘red lines’ in this election campaign. Do you have any personal red lines?”

CLEOPATRA LEGRANDE: “Tax havens and tax loopholes for the rich are an absolute deal-breaker for me. That’s a purple line that is, with flashing lights and a klaxon. I’ll say it again. Fuck with my banker’s bonus and I’ll kill you and eat your children.”

JEREMY TROUGH: “Which brings us neatly to UKIP. Breath of fresh air or a bunch of right-wing bigots?”

CLEOPATRA LEGRANDE: “They have some good ideas, like closing down the NHS and sending all those scrounging foreigners back.”

JEREMY TROUGH: “You’d support closing down the NHS, really? Isn’t that a sacred cow in the eyes of the public?”

CLEOPATRA LEGRANDE: “No good to me, is it? I’m the CEO of a bank, love. I’ve got more health insurance than I know what to do with. I always go private. Biggest drain of all on the public purse, is the NHS. It pisses literally billions up the wall every year, for what? Giving poor people cancer treatment and heart transplants? They cost an arm and a leg those things. Let ‘em die, I say, and cut the pension burden at the same time. The fewer old people you have, the faster you can shrink the welfare state, scrap the higher tax bands and raise net take home pay for senior bank executives like me. It’s a no-brainer.”

JEREMY TROUGH: “Can I pick up on your reference to sending all the scrounging foreigners back home…”

CLEOPATRA LEGRANDE: “Well, first off I believe, like UKIP, in an Australian-style points system of immigration. We shouldn’t be letting all these talented bankers, nurses and business entrepreneurs into the country. There’s only so many fat million-pound bonuses to go round. No, we should only be letting in cheap and nasty foreign mercenaries from Eastern Europe who’ll basically work 23 hours a day on half a slice of bread for ten pee a week. I personally exploit thousands of the fuckers in our call centres in Newcastle, Edinburgh and Chelmsford. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, what. They can’t speak a word of English mind, but Christ do they know how to extort money out of our customers. Brutal, they are. I’ve already promoted Stanislaw to my Board as Director of Money Laundering and Internet Fraud. Big guy with a crew cut, scar across his left cheek. Lives on raw potatoes and cardboard. These are the kind of talented thugs we need to get this country back on its knees.”

JEREMY TROUGH: “Wow, radical.”

CLEOPATRA LEGRANDE: “But UKIP are right, we definitely need to address all the benefit and health tourism as an absolute priority. Did you know that for every African who comes over here with HIV, it takes twenty-five grand a pop to treat them? That’s coming out of my pay packet that is. Foreign scum. Every grand I pay extra in tax is a person I have to lay off, and double the hours of the remaining staff. As for your foreign aid budget, you know where you can shove that. Until we can properly reward high-powered bank executives in our own country we shouldn’t be squandering money keeping foreign trash alive abroad. Let them eat worms, I say. It’s good for their immunity. Ebola? Do I look like I have Ebola? Fucking foreigners.”

JEREMY TROUGH: “But isn’t your husband foreign?”

CLEOPATRA LEGRANDE: “What did you just say?”

JEREMY TROUGH: “I, I just said, isn’t your husband Indian?”

CLEOPATRA LEGRANDE: “Did you just use the ‘N’ word about my husband?”


CLEOPATRA LEGRANDE: “Right, that’s it, I’m having you. Where’s my solicitor’s number?”

JEREMY TROUGH: “Mrs LeGrande, I only said…”

CLEOPATRA LEGRANDE: “Okay, listen up. I’ll say this once and I won’t repeat it. I want five hundred grand in used notes, stuffed inside a duffle bag, left on top of the litter bin at the junction of Eagle Place and Jermyn Street at nine o’clock in the morning. Do I make myself clear? This conversation never happened.”


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Bad day at the office 9

UK Cash Cowboys logo

London digital agency win UK Cash Cowboys account

There was a big buzz around the creative studio at UK Cash Cowboys this morning. As if somebody had thrown in a box of bees and closed the door. Three big developments were playing out. First, we’ve apparently appointed a new London agency. Secondly it would seem we’re changing our company strapline. For anyone who knows anything about straplines this is serious shit. Straplines go everywhere. Next to your logo on all your marketing. On every page of your website. They’re the jingles at the end of your ads. They also cost about three hundred grand a pop, which when I last counted was about a hundred grand a word. Nice work if you can get it.

The third bit of news, which is currently trending, struck the whole Cowboys franchise like a broadside of torpedoes last night when foul-mouthed stand-up comedian Frankie Blowtorch called our Global Chairman Sir Rich Pickle a ‘mad cunt’, which I understand can be a compliment in Australia. Pickle had been tweeting his usual hypothetical bullshit about how global warming was destroying the Arctic and putting the habitats of polar bears at risk. He was calling for business and political leaders to show more bold leadership on conservation. Which is a bit like Hitler worrying about the declining numbers of Jews.

Blowtorch had tweeted back, “you own an airline, you mad cunt”. Which seems a fair point to make. No doubt if he’d had more than 140 characters he’d have pointed out that Sir Rich’s global Cowboys franchise actually owns SEVEN whopping airlines across Europe, America, Australia and the Pacific. Not to mention Cowboys Trains, Cowboys Galactic space tourism project, Cowboys Limousines and Limobikes and, oh yeah, Cowboys Formula One Racing Team. A real eco-warrior is Sir Rich. According to Wiki he owns about half the planet and since his hundreds of Cowboys’ business ventures over the last four decades have probably been responsible for the destruction of the other half, it seems a bit rich for him to be taking the high ground on global warming. You don’t build the kind of fortune Pickle has without being one of the most ruthless, unscrupulous business operators on the planet. If Sir Rich had to raze a dozen rainforests or hospitals to the ground to make a hundred quid on the side, the diggers would be going in now, make no mistake. But like our own CEO at UK Cash Cowboys, Cleopatra Le-Grande OBE (who models herself on Sir Rich), Pickle has never been one to let rank hypocrisy get in the way of a good PR opportunity.

So, as our Chief Marketing Officer Dick Holder got us all in a huddle round the photocopier at 10am to make an announcement, we were all ears. Dick has this habit of dropping his jaw open like Gordon Brown when he’s about to speak, and rolling his eyes back in his head as he rocks back on his heels, building up the suspense. I think he thinks it gives him some kind of gravitas. He’s wrong. He looks like he’s about to have an epileptic seizure. The bald head and Bilko glasses probably don’t help much.

“I wanted you to be the first to know the exciting news,” he said, pausing to milk the moment. “We’ve appointed a new digital agency.”

“Woo-hoo,” shrieked Norman Shylock right on cue as he high-fived Dick, the big creep. Norman heads up our Online Marketing Bullshit Division. Dick’s his boss.

“We’re delighted to announce that Pratt, Rypov, Igo, Charlatan, Konman & Shytter are our new agency.

I watched as one of our design team – Stig Churchwarden – mouthed the words, counting them off on his fingers as he worked out the agency’s acronym. It registered in his eyes like a row of dollar signs.

“Who?” asked our moustachioed veteran artworker Captain Benylin. The Captain works on Benylin time, which is usually about five seconds behind the rest of the world.

“They’re absolutely top-drawer people,” continued Dick, ignoring the Captain. “Their pitch was different class. We were impressed not only by the quality of their ideas and their understanding of us as a brand. But we’re also confident their work will help us drive home the message that UK Cash Cowboys is very different from other banks.”  Stig swapped me a look. Yeah, we both thought, shitter than other banks. Meaner, more hypocritical. Dick continued. “They unveiled a great new company strapline in their pitch that I have to say blew us all away, especially Cleopatra. She absolutely loves it. In fact it was the clincher to them winning our account.” Here we go, I thought. I can’t wait to hear this. If the agency has any kind of handle on us as a brand it’ll be something like, UK Cash Cowboys – Bankers to the Wankers. Four words. I could have written them myself. Saving the company four hundred grand.

“Vot is it den?” asked Zelda, one of the junior copywriters.

Dick rocked back on his heels, rolling those eyes and opening his gaping maw of a slack-jawed mouth like some village idiot. “UK Cash Cowboys – Everyone’s Getting On,” he said. His lip curled up in a satisfied smile. He paused again, awaiting a chorus of affirmation from his in-house creative team.

While he waited I ran a few contenders from Advertising Straplines 101 through my head to see if I could remember one as bad. A long roll-call of unadulterated agency tripe sprang to mind,  like Panasonic’s Ideas for life, Exxon’s We’re Exxon, and Olivetti’s Our force is your energy. I wondered how many millions the agencies had duped out of the marketing geniuses at those businesses to sell them such meaningless tosh. Or for the hospital passes they’d sold to organisations like British Rail (We’re getting there) or MFI (Take a look at us now). Maybe one day, I thought, just one day, Everyone’s Getting On might be up there among that prestigious pantheon of strapline howlers that sucked to the power of ten. I was mindful Felix Clay’s cautionary words about the danger of a badly thought through strapline, which pretty much said all there was to say on the subject:

“For every effectively memorable and only marginally annoying slogan out there, there’s about five that suck eggs. And then there’s one more that left egg-sucking behind and now sucks everything. It sucks so bad and so hard that the closer you get to it the harder it is to get away. Like a black hole of shitty marketing, it pulls you in, and you’ll never forget just how fucking awful this slogan was. It somehow managed to do the exact opposite of what the company intended, convincing you not to buy their product but to avoid them totally, because their entire marketing team must be cretinous jackasses with little to no understanding of the world outside their offices.”

Wow, I thought. I wonder if Felix had ever worked here at UK Cash Cowboys, to get such a brilliant insight.

“Oh c’mon! It’s not THAT bad!” Dick snapped. “Get with the programme people. We need to all get behind this. It’s who we are. It’s what we’re all about as a company. Part of our DNA going forward. Everyone’s Getting On, right?”

“Oh, you mean like, say, Cleopatra’s OBE, and her £2.65 million bonus she took last January,” I said, going way out there. “Like THAT kind of getting on? Oh, cool. I geddit.” Dick responded with a withering glare in my direction. He was not amused.

“He’s only kidding, aren’t you Frank?” said Shylock, through gritted teeth. Shylock’s my line manager, as it happens. My boss. Dick’s his boss. That’s why he spends all his day sucking Dick’s dick, and getting me to suck his. It’s how the banking industry works. Your boss bullies you, his boss bullies him, and so on, all the way to the top. Shylock gave me one of his ‘one more negative peep out of you Bukowski and you’ll be pulling your P45 out your ass with a pair of long-handled medical forceps’ looks.

“Sure,” I said, “only joking. It’s a great strapline. Bang on the money. Absolutely nails who we are as a company. Everyone’s Getting On. Couldn’t have written it better myself.”

“Thank you,” said Dick, as my sarcasm sailed several storeys over his Bilko dome.

“What does it mean?” asked the Captain, who had woken from his slumber.

“Hey, Benylin, shut, the fuck, up,” snapped Shylock. He was always picking on the old guy.

“No, what he means,” I said, coming to the Captain’s defence, “is like, what’s the subliminal message? You know, like what’s the take out for the customer? Everyone’s Getting On? As in? I mean, this has to resonate in the marketplace, right? It has to get inside our customers’ heads, yeah? So like, when it’s in there, what’s it really supposed to be saying to them? That’s all. I’m just asking. Are we all 100% happy the meaning is clear and transparent? Everyone’s Getting On?”

“It’s okay Dick,” said Shylock, indicating he’d sort it. “How long have you worked here fuckwit?”

“Christ knows. Eighteen years?”

“And you still haven’t got our mission statement?”

“Well it’s a bit hard, it changes every year.”

“Ha, I’m splitting my sides.”

“I try.”

“You’re a retard Bukowski, and a troublemaker. It’s obvious to everyone but a complete moron what Everyone’s Getting On means. And even if it wasn’t, that’s not what straplines are for. They’re SUPPOSED to be confusing clouds of evaporated horsepiss dreamed up by pretentious advertising agencies with their heads so far up their asses they can inspect their own teeth. That’s not the point. The point is, we’re a new kind of bank, kapeesh? Everyone knows that. Not like the old high street banks who are all about selfishness and greed, fat profits and sneering at the customer. There were way too many losers in that model. With us it’s a huge win-win, all round. Everyone benefits from our new way of doing business – customers, staff, management, shareholders, society. Everyone’s Getting On, geddit? Hello, anyone there? Come in Bukowski’s brain.”

“Ohhhh, I seeee! So like, I mean, those three members of the marketing team who went off sick for six months because they were being bullied by management, then lost their jobs last month, were like, getting on? Not getting sacked? Now I get it.”

There was an uncomfortable silence as I glanced around my Studio colleagues for a spark of support. They were all too terrified, too cowed, too in debt to mortgage and credit card companies to dare open their mouths. Too in fear of the corporate thought police to have an opinion of their own. Only Stig furtively drew a zip across his mouth, trying to save me from myself.

“Anything else you’d like to add Frank,” asked Dick. “In the spirit of openness?”

“Well, I suppose there is all the extra work that’s been piled on these last twelve months, the late nights, the unpaid overtime. Oh, and the three year pay freeze, when Cleopatra just paid herself a two and a half million pound bonus this January. But I won’t mention her twenty three percent pay rise. If I’m being brutally honest, Dick, it didn’t feel THAT much like the rest of us were getting on. That’s all. It’s just my opinion.”

“Finished?” asked Shylock.

“I suppose, except, I’m not really supposed to mention it…”

“Then don’t.”

“I mean, that adviser in our Glasgow office…”

“Bukowski, don’t even go there. That’s classified. Off limits. End of.”

“It was in the press.”

“I don’t care if it was on Google’s homepage.”

“Vot vos on Google’s homepage?” asked Zelda.

“He’s talking about the adviser from our Glasgow branch who just got jailed for five years for stealing half a million quid off a couple of old age pensioners with dementia,” said Stig, earning himself a furious glower from Shylock. Dick just stared uncomfortably at the floor, shaking his head. This wasn’t what we were supposed to be talking about. We were supposed to be showering compliments on his shiny new corporate strapline. All this shit about bullying management, greedy CEOs and criminals in our midst was badly off message. Bad for ‘engagement’.

“Actually Stig, I was talking about Darren Darkes, our CEO’s culture guru, but now you mention the theft, yeah…”

“Frank, can we take this offline?” asked Shylock, indicating a meeting room with his eyes.

“Yeah, what happened to Darko,” asked the Captain. “I was wondering where he’d got to.”

“He was sacked.”

“Oh, that’s a shame. I liked Darko. What did he do, spell Cleopatra’s name wrong on a letter?”

“Nah. He was convicted of swapping images of children on an online paedophile site. Guess that’s the kind of thing Cleopatra means when she keeps banging on about the company putting a little something back into society. Everyone’s Getting On, hey.”

“Oops,” said the Captain, “I’ll keep my mouth shut.”

“That would be nice,” said Shylock.

“Norman, can I have a word with you in my office,’ said Dick. “Now.”

Shylock shot me a poison-tipped bullet of hate as he trudged leaden-footed behind his boss.

“Now you’ve done it,” said Stig, drawing a joke finger across his adam’s apple.

“Do you have some kind of death wish? Nob head.” It was our sarky Design Manager and management ass-kisser in-chief, Matty Ostrich. “Why did you have to say all that shit? Now they’ll just go on the warpath and make all our lives a misery.”

“So what’s fucking new?” said Stig.

“Can it get any worse?” asked the Captain, smoothing back his handlebar moustache on both sides.

“I just can’t stand the bare-faced hypocrisy of this place any more. Challenger bank my arse. It gets more like Mugabe’s Zimbabwe every day. And some agency fuckwit comes up with a pile of wanky gibberish like Everyone’s Getting On, and everybody thinks it’s genius. Everyone’s Getting On, my god. It’s about as representative of UK Cash Cowboys as Arbeit Macht Frei. I bet that’s what Hitler told the Germans in the 1930s as he set them to work on the autobahns and got everyone doing press-ups in the fresh air. Everyone’s getting on, folks. Anyone with half a brain can see right through it. But we’re all too scared to speak up and say shit, in case we get a visit from one of Cleopatra’s Brownshirts in the night.”

“You’re just being negative,” said our senior copywriter Richie Skulldug, another management lickspittle. This place has more Gestapo than occupied France. A word out of place and your family disappears in the night. Cleopatra Le-Grande sees to that. Our smiling air-brushed CEO, Himmler in a skirt. But Skulldug takes her corporate heel-clicking to a whole new level. He’s so far up Dick Holder’s arse he can see Shylock’s metal tipped shoes. “You can’t talk like that to Dick, man. It’s disrespectful. It brings down the whole Studio.”

“Not even if it’s true?”

“Especially if it’s true,” joked Stig. “They take it more personally then.”

“Well, bang goes my pay review and bonus, AGAIN. Whatever.”

“You’ll be lucky if you don’t get the sack,” sniped Ostrich from behind his Mac.

“Well, it’s about time somebody stood up to these bullies for once. All this bullshit they put out about us being a great company to work for. UK Cash Cowboys, the new face of British Banking. One big happy family. And what’s all this big fucking lie about the Cowboys only being in it to build a better world? Bull… shit. I notice Dick carefully avoided saying anything about the shitstorm breaking on Twitter about Frankie Blowtorch calling Sir Rich Pickle a hypocritical cunt. In case anyone hadn’t noticed, the only thing we appear to be building around here is a bigger sodding bank balance for our fascist thug of a CEO, Cleopatra ‘I’d eat my children if I could make money out of it’ LeGrande. Who, in case you all need reminding, just trousered a two and a half million bonus while we got dick all. And WE did all the sodding WORK!”

“Yeah, while telling us the cupboard was bare,” said the Captain, firing up his Mac.

Stig nodded, wandering back to his desk. “Shafted.”

“What was it she said at the company stand-up? If we didn’t like it there were plenty of jobs going in Greece?”

“Look, it’s a job, yeah, get over it,” whined Ostrich. “It’s better than being on the dole.”

“I’m beginning to wonder.”

Stig opened up some Direct Mail artwork in InDesign. He began trying out the new strapline wording next to the logo. “Hey it fits!” he said. “If it’s any consolation, at least we can shorten it to EGO.”

“Yeah, in honour of our great leader and walking ego at UK Cash Cowboys, Cleopatra LeGrande, OBE.”

“Yay, so now we’ve got PRICKS and an EGO!” said Stig, cheering up.

“A new way of banking the world’s never seen before.”

“You can say that again.”

“Feels like real progress.”

“Welcome to UK Cash Cowboys, the human face of British banking, where everyone with a prick and an ego gets on.”

“Stig, can you drop it now and get on with your work mate,” sniped Ostrich. “We need to get that to print by six, or we’ll all be…”

“In deep shit?”

“Ethnically cleansed?”

“Taken into the car park and shot?”

“Oh fuck off,” snapped Ostrich, putting on his headphones. He wasn’t playing any more.


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Bad day at the office 7

UK CEO gets OBE for services to Bullying

Cleopatra LeGrande shouting


These are dark times indeed.

Unless you were paying attention back in December it may have slipped under your radar that Cleopatra LeGrande, CEO of UK Cash Cowboys, the sweat-shop payday loan company I work for (recently rebranded as a ‘Challenger Bank’, woo-fucking-hoo) was awarded an OBE for Services to Bullying in the New Years’ Honours list.

When you look at LeGrande’s track record since she took over Cowboys in 2007, it all falls into place. Here are the changes she brought in:

  • Concentration Camp dress code – Cowboys traditional ‘smart cas’ banned – an early shot across the bows.
  • Time clocking implemented – arrival and departure times closely monitored by management. Transgressors flogged in car-park ‘group humiliation outings’.
  • Worksheets – logging start and finish times on each job.
  • Personal phone calls – not allowed, monitored.
  • Personal email access – blocked.
  • Access to social media – blocked.
  • Sending attachments outside the business – blocked.
  • Use of computer files to store personal information – forbidden and monitored.
  • Music in the creative studio – banned.
  • Laughter in the office – banned (management ruling that ‘fun’ and ‘work’ are incompatible).
  • Whistle-blowing (reporting colleagues showing a bad attitude or lack of ‘engagement’) – encouraged and rewarded.
  • Compulsory attendance at ‘engagement’ workshops.
  • Enforced attendance at ‘fun’ corporate team events.
  • Absenteeism from work-related stress – quadrupled.
  • Staff Satisfaction rating in National Opinion Survey down from 85% to 15%.
  • Brutal weekly one-to-ones with line managers, where staff are sworn at, threatened, intimidated.
  • Corrupt annual review system resulting in a low performance rating for high performing staff.
  • Annual pay review and bonus – frozen indefinitely.
  • Senior management and ‘yes men’ get above inflation pay increases and bonuses.
  • CEO’s annual bonus for “managing down the costs of the business” – £1.5 million.

Think that’s bad? That’s nothing. LeGrande’s Nazi credentials are even better illustrated by a case study leaked to me by a colleague in HR today who has asked to remain anonymous. If her name gets out she’s bricking it she’ll wake up one morning to find her cat’s head next to her on the pillow, with her P45 stuffed in its mouth. Things like that happen around here, since LeGrande took over.

The case study concerns three colleagues in the Marketing Department who were bullied out of their jobs recently, despite having 35 years loyal service between them. They had consistently resisted the company’s efforts to ‘indoctrinate’ them, and spoke out against the growing culture of intimidation and harassment. For their sins they were given a new manager, who was told to ‘bring them into line’. My boss, in fact, Norman Shylock, a particularly nasty piece of work. LeGrande gave our CMO Dick Holder a mandate, and Dick passed it down the line to Shylock. “Shut them the fuck up, or make them disappear, kapeesh?”

First Shylock tried to ‘fix’ the three ‘troublemakers’ by trashing their end of year performance appraisals, on which their pay and bonuses depended. He basically fabricated a bunch of bullshit about missed deadlines and poor work, so he could pin the ‘failure’ tag on them.

When they appealed against his bungled attempt to blacken their name in the appraisals, and had his bullshit ratings overturned, he unleashed a campaign of bullying, intimidation and harassment on them.

It started with hideous amounts of work being piled on, then constant micro-management, nit-picking and fault finding over the most trivial thing. If they were a few seconds late arriving in the morning he would take them in a room and scream at them aggressively, using the most foul, obnoxious language. Man and woman.

It went on for several months until eventually, one by one, they all broke a little inside, and were signed off by their doctors with long-term work-related stress and depression, and suicidal thoughts.

The shit really hit the fan when the three employees filed a grievance against Shylock, for systematic bullying.

Camp Commandant that she is, LeGrande told Dick Holder to work with HR to make sure that, on no condition, was the grievance to stand. I can picture her drawing a finger across her throat as she spelled it out.

So HR conducted a charade of an investigation, taking a sham interest in witness statements and conducting fake interviews, then presented a complete whitewash, saying no bullying had taken place. They found Shylock guilty of some minor infraction like, ‘inappropriate behaviour’, and gave him a 15% pay rise for getting the job done.

For the three employees, when they’d exhausted the process internally and their six months statutory sick pay was up, they were given three alternatives by the company.

  1. Return to work and report back in to Shylock, the management thug who had bullied them to the point of depression and suicidal thoughts.
  2. Accept much inferior roles elsewhere in the team.
  3. Walk off into the sunset without a job or a penny in compensation. After 35 years loyal service.

“That’s what I call a result,” LeGrande was overheard saying to Dick Holder, as they high-fived round the coffee machine in our London head office.

Welcome to the new face of British Banking.

Stop Press – Bullying Works! UK Cash Cowboys see 127% increase in profits

Today at UK Cash Cowboys we heard the company had released its full year results for 2014. And wow, we got some idea just how lucrative LeGrande’s culture of bullying and intimidation has become around this joint. “The company have coined in an extra £120 million in profit,” said our PR spokesman, Scott Trotter. “We’re absolutely fucking minting it.”

There’s a rumour going round the office that Sir Richard Pickle, our Global Group Chairman, serial entrepreneur and darling of the British media, has invited Cleopatra to spend a week with him at his Caribbean hideaway of Slapper Island as a thank you. Not that she needs one, as the figures released also revealed Cleopatra awarded herself a staggering 21% pay increase last year, earning an eye-popping £3.65million.

So much for George ‘Ozzy’ Osborne’s brave new world free of greedy fatcat bank bosses. LeGrande also trousered a handy little £1.5million bonus on the side. While most of us here in the creative studio at Cash Cowboys Towers, where we’re labelled ‘trouble-makers’, got a BIG FAT ZERO. Thanks, Cleopatra. Makes it all feel worthwhile.

LeGrande was quoted as saying in the press today, “Our staff are at the heart of all the money we rake in from customers and I would like to thank them for their hard work for, well, practically peanuts, all year round. Without them I wouldn’t have been able to line my pockets with such an eye-watering amount in personal salary and bonuses. To those who might say I’m greedy and that’s a disgusting amount of money, I’d say shut up, I’m far more important than you and you don’t know what you’re talking about. The figure quoted in the press that it would take an average employee at UK Cash Cowboys 145 years to earn what I earn in a year, while factually correct, is merely an accurate reflection of my superior status at the bank. I get paid to make big decisions, the plebs don’t. What’s your fucking problem?”

This is a woman, let us not forget, who from 2001 to 2007 presided over a mortgage division at a well-known high street bank that lent money to broke people like there was no tomorrow. When the credit crunch finally struck in August 2007 LeGrande’s bank had run up enough toxic debt to fund a small banana republic. A black hole of money that you, I and every other UK taxpayer are still picking up the tab for, seven years later.

But they don’t call her the Teflon Lady for nothing. Like some Auschwitz guard slipping silently away to South America, LeGrande quickly jumped ship on Thursday 9 August 2007, the day the credit crunch went off like a time bomb around the world. That black Thursday when Sir Richard Pickle unveiled LeGrande as the new CEO of the UK arm of the Cash Cowboys franchise. A black day indeed. We didn’t just get LeGrande and her Nazi management philosophy, we got her personal Gestapo of brutal oberleutnants from the Royal Bank of Snodland. These are the goons who now strut about UK Cash Cowboys slapping their rubber batons in their palms.

Cleopatra LeGrande’s strategy for business success is brutally simple. Take over the company, make half the staff redundant, and bully the remaining employees into twice the work for half the pay. It’s a strategy she’s employed at every company she’s ever worked at, destroying the culture and sending morale through a trap door and profits through the roof, over the bodies of her employees. Not for nothing is she known in the industry as Voldemort, on account of the cheery effect she has on employee wellbeing. At Cash Cowboys, most days it feels more like we’re working in a chain-gang than a marketing department. Maybe the fifteen-foot electrified barbed-wire fence, searchlights and machine gun posts have something to do with it.

Here’s the thing about Cleopatra LeGrande. For anyone who doesn’t know her. For anyone misled by the friendly air-brushed photographs our Public Relations team put out in the press today, of Cleopatra as the smiling face of business, standing alongside a beaming Rich Pickle. She should be fucking smiling, she’s just trousered £3.65 million. But here’s the thing. Cleopatra LeGrande likes to pretend she has a heart. But she doesn’t have a heart. Oh no. Cleopatra LeGrande is a machine. Let me tell you. A ruthless terminator in woman’s clothing. Like something out of Orwell’s 1984.

If the definition of a psychopath is a cold, calculating, dispassionate, manipulative, uncaring individual with sociopathic traits, LeGrande ticks all those boxes, and then some. She kicks those boxes’ asses, until they run away and hide. In public she likes to portray the Cowboys as a business with a conscience. Like we’re some kind of co-operative run by philanthropists whose only aims are saving the planet and putting something back into society. A company where profit is a dirty word. Hence her blatant attempts to curry favour with the establishment through our charitable arm, UK Cash Cowboys Giving, and our funding of the UK Cash Cowboys Marathon.

If you believed all that crap you’d think we were one big happy family. You’d maybe imagine, for one misguided moment, that all the staff here are treated like royalty and everyone loves coming into work. That we all buy into her self-serving bullshit about Cowboys being on a mission to change the world. Uh-ho.

Let me tell you something. Anyone who has worked here for longer than a second would tell you this. Cleopatra LeGrande would knock over a cripple if he got in her way. She would steal a disabled person’s wheelchair. Then let down the tyres. And sell it. That’s the kind of selfish, greedy, despicable human being she is. She’s a tyrant, plain and simple. A petty little corporate dictator. One of the coldest, most ruthless operators I’ve ever had the misfortune to work for.

Behind the façade here at Cash Cowboys she’s unleashed a Kristallnacht of bullying and intimidation that’s slowly snuffing out the last vestiges of morale and engagement among loyal staff who have worked here for years. Day by day, piece by piece we are witnessing our company being turned into the worst kind of corporate hell-hole, run by LeGrande’s personal mafia of corporate thugs. They bully and intimidate with impunity. They harass and humiliate on a daily basis, piling on the work, driving down pay, punishing the least ‘insubordination’. Speak a word out of turn, say a thing off-message, you’re out. History. These are people with families, kids, mortgages, who can’t afford to lose their jobs.

As Cleopatra is fond of getting up and saying at company all-staff get-togethers, smiling like a crocodile, “either you’re on the bus, or you can fuck off and work somewhere else, make up your mind”.

For LeGrande to preside over a company pretending to stand for good causes and the wellbeing of staff, feels like having Jimmy Savile in charge of a refuge for abused children. There’s only one cause LeGrande cares about, as today’s revelations about her fatcat salary have revealed. Her own bank balance. As for the rest of us, we’re just tiny pawns in her big power game. Paper napkins that get used up and thrown out with the trash. We’re faces to be ground under her jackboot as she fast tracks her career among the great and the good. Fuck you, LeGrande.

So what exactly the Chancellor thought he was doing by giving one of the prime authors of the biggest financial crisis since the 1930s a licence to operate a high street bank out of a seedy little two-bit financial services company like the Cowboys is anyone’s guess. My guess is that Cleopatra spent most of 2013 on her knees in front of Osborne to make it happen. And I don’t mean tying his shoelaces. No doubt she milked the David v Goliath angle for all it was worth. Plucky little challenger brand standing up to the big bad high street banks. If Osborne only knew the truth he’d run a mile. This is a Mickey Mouse operation from its head to its toes. A corporate concentration camp where staff are brow-beaten and bullied into churning out over-priced, dumbed-down Mickey Mouse financial products that any sensible customer would run a mile from. One day the truth will out. Remember the name, Cleopatra LeGrande, OBE. The new face of banking.

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