Hello and welcome to London’s premier oligarch concierge service! We accept all currency and lots of it. And how may we help you today? Looking to buy something? Another supercar perhaps? A private education for your children? A colossal mansion in the middle of London that, weirdly, most people have never noticed? A football club? Again?
Oh, you’re calling about this so-called invasion? Yes, we quite agree.
Ridiculous! Because Donetsk is basically Russian already, isn’t it? Why, it’s as Russian as Knightsbridge! And that nice Mr Putin wouldn’t lie! Do pass on our number, by the way, if he’s ever thinking of buying a …
What’s that? You actually want to buy some political influence? No problem! We know no end of well-connected people who would be happy to take your money I mean whitewash your reputation I mean listen to your concerns.
Such as, well, have you ever considered buying the entire Conservative Party? Whoops! Oh, our mistake! I’ve just checked and you already have.
Yes, madam, indeed, we have also been reading Liz Truss in The Times, talking about turning up the heat. Terrible! Wait, it’s not terrible? Because it will make you even richer? Because your husband owns that gas company? Ah, no, you may have misunderstood.
Perhaps you could buy something to cheer yourself up? An airline? A hedge fund? A Scottish estate? We’d be happy to help. We’re very good at buying things. Well, apart from that one mix-up, when that gentleman wanted us to nip out for a newspaper, and we accidentally bought him the entirety of The Independent.
Anyway, what seems to be the problem? Hmm. Your staff have all gone home, and you’re wondering if we can do laundry? Alas, madam, no. Only of money.
You’re thinking of selling everything? And leaving? Oh, please don’t! Actually we’re all very fond of Mr Putin in Britain. Ask anyone! Why just step out on to Hampstead Heath, and … you’ve never heard of it? But it’s that vast green space next to your house! No, not your garden. The other one.
Anyway, where would you go? Oh, there’s a castle in the Alps, is there? And a villa in St Tropez? Funny, we don’t have them listed. According to our records, you actually live in a safety deposit box in the Cayman Islands.
Yes, we know all these Russian financial institutions are being banned. Do we have any suggestions? Hmm. Tricky! Because you can’t just move your money into British ones, can you? Because they’re really fussy about whose money they take!
Oh wait, sorry! I think something got lost in translation. I was being sarcastic, sir. Actually, they don’t give a shit.
Yes, we were just calling about your upcoming holiday, what with Aeroflot being banned from … oh, you never use Aeroflot? Yes, silly us, checking the list we see you have a private jet. Two jets? Three jets? The third technically belongs to your dog? Because he doesn’t like first class? Well, sir, if you have any other pets who require a private jet … No, seriously.
Even just a fish.
You actually want to buy some political influence? No problem!
No, sir, we don’t think it’s fair they’re calling you a “Putin crony”. I mean, you’ve only met at weddings, right? Including your own. And his.
Still, how ridiculous to think that this somehow gives you influence! Because it’s not like you can just make a donation in exchange for an audience, or invite him for a holiday on your yacht, is it? Well, exactly.
It’s not like he’s Boris Johnson.
Ah, hello, just calling with some annoying cultural news. We’re afraid you’ve lost your box at the Champions League final, because it’s being moved from Russia to Paris. Also, they’ve scrapped the Russian Grand Prix.
But good news about Eurovision! Yes. You don’t need to watch.
Sorry, what’s that? You’re much more concerned about these Unexplained Wealth Orders they’re now suggesting, for people who can’t show how they got so stupidly rich? Oh, that’s funny. We hadn’t thought about them at all. Well, because our wealth isn’t unexplained, is it? No. It literally all came from you.
*According to Hugo Rifkind
Hugo Rifkind is a columnist for The Times of London. He hosts a roundup of the week’s news and culture on Times Radio every Saturday