Mrs Rock’s Brave New World
Gibraltar Magazine – December 2017
Ian Le Breton
Mrs Rock is in a state – again. Readers may recall that when we last checked up on her a year ago, some very big changes were in the offing. Widowed some time back, she had struck up an Internet friendship with Gerald, who had visited Gibraltar for the first time last Christmas in order to meet her in the flesh and to get to know the place he was planning to call home.
All was set fair. Mrs Rock’s somewhat precious son, Sheridan, had acquiesced, rather too quickly she thought. She suspected that his ready acceptance of Gerald as a putative stepfather had more to do with Gerald applying for his Category 2 residence certificate than with genuine concern for his aged mother’s welfare. ‘Cat 2’ applicants, after all, are required to demonstrate a net worth of at least £2 million.
Sheridan had also somehow found out that Gerald was a childless widower and as a result seemed quite happy to welcome this stranger into the Rock family. In fact Mrs Rock had been more than a little unnerved by how much Sheridan had been able to discover. She assumed he must have been ‘going on the line’ again and been looking at that ‘interweb thingy’ on his ‘computermabob’. Apart from the dating site where she had first met Gerald, she couldn’t really get the hang of it all. That would have to change, she thought. But now back to Gerald.
Sad to relate, things didn’t quite work out as planned. Gerald had set about applying for his Cat 2 residency in the New Year. This procedure is not overly complicated but it is thorough and quite detailed and many applicants seek professional assistance to guide them through the process. Gibraltar, after all, has to be certain that it is not extending residency rights to the ‘wrong’ sort of people for obvious reasons.
Some way into the process, Gerald seemed to have got cold feet. Mrs Rock never found out quite why but one afternoon, without explanation, Gerald had simply packed his bags and caught the late plane back to Gatwick. She had then discovered that his forwarding address in England was false. She had always enjoyed Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland but Gerald seemed to be as elusive as the Cheshire Cat. All she could remember now was his grin.
Yes, she had been more than a little upset but being a femme d’un certain âge, she had seen it all before. Somehow, just somehow, she had had an inkling from the outset that Gerald was not right for Gibraltar, or indeed for her. Now she had to break the news to her son Sheridan who, as regular readers may recall, is always looking out for his mother’s welfare – particularly where her money is concerned.
And so to lunch with the boy on that rather nice ship hotel in the marina. “My yacht”, Mrs Rock liked to call it. She had quite taken to going aboard as often as possible. A coffee here, a light lunch there. Once even – she giggled at her own naughtiness – a little afternoon cocktail on her own in the bar. Whatever would old Mr Rock have said? As a matter of fact, she knew very well what the old misery would have said, which merely added to her sense of derring-do.
Sheridan took the news that he wasn’t to become a stepson rather well. “Oh well”, he said, “at least I won’t have to buy a new frock”. Mrs Rock rather wished he wouldn’t say things like that. He did so rather too often these days. As his mother, she was concerned. But she put such misgivings aside. After all she thought, this is my crisis – and I’m going to enjoy it.
“Now then, dear”, she began. Sheridan sighed. “I’m going to see that man who helps me with my finances. I’ve been hearing a lot about this ‘bitchain’ and ‘BLT’. So I thought I might invest in them. After all, I love a good sandwich.” This time Sheridan groaned audibly. “Mother, it’s way too complicated for you to understand. I’ve told you before that I can help and in fact I am an expert in this stuff. And actually it’s ‘DLT’ and ‘blockchain’. The coins are something else and … ”
He didn’t get any further. “Thank you, dear”, said Mrs Rock firmly. “I am quite able to decide for myself, with my adviser’s help of course. He’ll assist me to sort out all that stuff in the ether.” Sheridan wondered if his mother realised she’d just made a little joke. One look at her face suggested otherwise so he gave up. “OK mother, but please be careful with our money”. “It’s my money, dear”, she reminded him, not for the first time.
To town then to see her adviser. In truth she wasn’t sure what he was; he had so many letters after his name. A lawyer, an accountant, a banker perhaps? He had told her in the past he was multi-jurisdictional so she thought that must cover it. It was old Mr Rock who had dealt with the firm for years – this chap’s father in fact. And just as Mr Rock had dropped off his perch, so adviser père had shifted to a more celestial advisory sphere leaving his fils in charge. Not a bad lad either. At least he’d shaved and wasn’t sporting a ‘Movember’ moustache, or whatever else it was that men did in the name of charity these days. No tie she noticed and first names used throughout, but what can you do?
“So”, he said jauntily. She hated that. Why do all the youngsters start every sentence with ‘so’? “What can I do for you today?” He sounded rather like her butcher in the market. “I wanted some advice on investing in bitter coins and maybe other krypton factor things” she replied.
The youth (for he looked like he should still be in short trousers) put on his most adult face and started talking – somewhat ‘waftily’ she felt – about widows and orphans. “But I am a widow”, she exclaimed. “And an orphan come to think of it”. At her age though the latter was a given. “Precisely”, said the adviser. He then proceeded to explain that while bitcoins and some of the other crypto-currencies had made people money, they were also extremely volatile. Before investing, some understanding of the underlying technology – the blockchain – was recommended.
By now Mrs Rock was glazing over. “One more question, doctor”, she said, without realising her mistake. “What have ‘DLT’ or ‘BLT’ got to do with it all?” When it had been explained that ‘DLT’ was the acronym for the underlying distributed ledger technology – and that ‘BLT’ was what the adviser had had for lunch – she gave up and went home.
She mused on her day and her thoughts turned unconsciously to Aldous Huxley. Well not exactly to the novelist and philosopher himself, but to the title of his most famous book. This ‘Brave New World’, she pondered, was a tad too complicated for her. More than a tad, if she was completely honest. She resolved to leave her money in the various government savings schemes where they were currently lodged for the time being. “I’ll return this to this further down the line”, she thought. A phrase she’d just read on the ‘tablet’ that she was clutching like a latter-day Moses.
No more Internet dating for her, she thought. Not for a while at least. She noticed an e-mail message had arrived whilst she’d been out. She was pleased to see it was from that odd chap in specs who writes all that financial stuff in the Gibraltar Magazine every month. She read it and smiled. “Thank you”, she thought. ”And the same to you, dear”.
“On behalf of everyone at Sovereign in Gibraltar, I wish all our readers and their families a very merry Christmas and a happy – and prosperous – New Year 2018.”