Smoke & Mirrors: Exploiting Bitcoin

Our comms hero exploits his slacker son's illicit Bitcoin trading to help him spin the dross of Smokehouse's half-yearly results into gold.

by Guy Browning
Last Updated: 28 Jan 2014


What holds Smokehouse back as a company is that we make real things that people pay real money for.

If we were a tech company we could provide a free service for people with the guarantee that as soon as we started charging for it people would stop using it. With that model, our share price would be 10 times as high. That's the virtual reality. Unfortunately for me and my Smokehouse share options, products don't get less virtual than surgical appliances, which explains why our share price looks like the flight path of a dodo.

This is on my mind because it's time to announce our half-yearly results to the City. It's always a low point of the year for me, right down there with our annual conference in Eastbourne, which seems to have a two-month depressing effect on our sales force.


Went with our CEO Linton Spivey to recce our investment bank, which is hosting our results press conference on Friday. We had to wait in the vast reception area, which housed several uberbabes behind a huge desk at the far end.

First, we had to go through this biometric device that took some sort of digital scrotum print before allowing you anywhere near the totty. In between the two was a colossal sculpture called 'Enthalpy', which presumably means 'Forgot to take this rubbish out when we put the roof on and now it's too big to get out the door'.

As we waited, Spivey's hairpiece started to revolve gently, which is a sure sign of him getting cross. He eventually declared that the fresh air in the bank's atrium probably cost more than our entire manufacturing plant in Warrington.


Spivey decided we're sacking our investment bank. He didn't say why but I suspect reception envy is a big part of it.

I pointed out that we were announcing our results to the City from there and they might not be so hospitable if we dumped them first. I volunteered to get the guys in Warrington to go through the big waste bins and knock up something sculptural from a few surgical offcuts.

This suggestion didn't have the usual uplifting effect you'd expect from art. What I failed to mention was that Henry, my useless slacker son, is currently doing his internship at the bank and I don't want that cut short.

It's the first time he's left the house for years and I thought it was time he swapped Grand Theft Auto in his bedroom for Grand Theft Banko in the City.


Had a call from Jamie Sherborne, the comms director at the bank. He wanted to know how we were 'messaging' our results. He normally asks this when our results are bad and then he removes the headed notepaper from the meeting room so they're not associated with us too closely in the minds of the assembled analysts.

I told him that I'd like to have him field questions sitting right next to Spivey, preferably holding hands. He laughed in a way that suggested he was rapidly making last-minute holiday arrangements.

After work, to cheer myself up, I had an off-site with Conception, my Brazilian girlfriend. We tested out some new lingerie that seems to work on the same basis as our investment bank: the less you see of it the more you pay for it.


Results day. Funnily enough, I had a panicky Jamie Sherborne on the phone halfway through my breakfast. He said I should know that the PRA was announcing an inquiry into some of the bank's trading practices.

I was bursting with sympathy until he told me that the investigation centred on my son Henry, who was doing some freelance trading in Bitcoin, making a packet dealing virtual currency on the dark web.

Apparently, the bank doesn't approve of this kind of virtual money-making, an irony that wasn't lost on anybody, including, I'm sure, my brilliant and much-loved son. I promised to rein him in and ended the day with a gratifyingly upbeat announcement of our results from the comms director himself, who made them seem the best ever. Well, virtually the best ever.

Guy Browning can be contacted at

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