Now I’m not normally one to name drop (ok, I am), but I went to watch a movie with John Prescott last night. I certainly didn’t mean to, but while I was waiting outside the cinema for my friend Charlie to arrive, a dark green Jaguar pulled up, and a big guy wearing an earpiece jumped out to open the back door for his passenger. After a quick double-take I realised the guy getting out was the deputy prime minister.
At first I thought he must be going somewhere else, but no, he strode into the foyer, bought himself a ticket (and two for his bodyguards) and went downstairs. At this stage I didn’t know which film he was going to see but then I walked past him in the queue for snacks and he was on his mobile phone telling someone that ‘I’m going to see a film about Enron’. Which was funny because that was the film I was going to see, and sure enough, a few minutes after I took my seat, in walked John and sat a few seats along from me on the same row. His bodyguards installed themselves in the row behind.
Enron: the smartest guys in the room, by the way, is excellent. One of the best documentaries I’ve ever seen. Ok, I am slightly obsessed by studies of organisational culture but as a story of how a bunch of guys became the seventh biggest company in the US in the space of 15 years it’s brilliant. They did it by essentially puffing up their own worth and intelligence and pulling the wool over the eyes of regulators, investors and in some cases their own staff, although you never quite know how much the place was really run by the groupthink of the traders.
The best thing about the movie is the depth it goes into over the character studies of the main players — Jeffrey Skilling and the mysterious Lou Pai, CEO of Enron Energy Services, stick in my mind.
I couldn’t help wondering what John was making of it all — or whether he had met any of these people. After all he’s been in Government since 1997 (four years before Enron collapsed) and it’s not unheard of for him to meet up with American businessmen.
I think it was about half way through the film that I realised Tony Blair was now on holiday and that the guy sitting a few seats to my right with a bucket of popcorn on his lap was running the country.
I’m still not sure what I think about that.