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Michel rings a bell

Last National Bank of Boot Hill,
Moorgate, London EC2

I am decking the banking hall with hanks of holly when someone rings a bell outside, and I hear a ho-ho-hoing sound, but more of a heau-heau-heau, like Inspector Clouseau on the trail of the Pink Panther, I recognize the voice at once, it is my old friend Michel from the IMF, is he full of Christmas cheer or what?

Michel, I shout, come in, take the weight off your boots, do you want me to send out to Birleys for a mince pie, there must be an aperture somewhere in those cottonwool whiskers of yours, and do leave your sack at reception, it is quite safe there, but since when does the IMF distribute bonuses?

He goes into his heau-heau-heau routine again and tells me: In my sack there are toys for the good little boys and girls in Indonesia and Thailand and Korea, not that I come across any when I am over there, I promise you, Herbie, I never meet such a bunch of backhander collectors, no wonder they do not wish me to come in and clean their act up.

I can see the guy is under strain, so I reach for the Christmas package HSBC sends me, which contains a fifth of Finest Auld Willie ("born 1931, still going strong") and pour a slug down him and say: Now then, Michel, what is all this red robe and white beard act, are you here in disguise, do the Brits need to borrow, I recall your guys fix them up 20 years ago.

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