On 17 October 1987 share prices tumbled and the '80s boom went spectacularly bust. Six years on, financial journalist Paul Ham has turned the chaos into 5,000 lines of metrically-precise verse, an epic poem of rhyming couplets entitled Insolvency Week. Ham's opus follows the attempts of a vulgar Australian media baron, Brazen Blue, (a thinly disguised Rupert Murdoch), to take over the aristocratic Dunmere Holdings (an equally thinly disguised Pearson). The ensuing pitched battle is followed throughout by the eponymous journal, a 'trade magazine for bankrupts', which, through one adverse headline, sparks a frantic round of selling and precipitates Blue's fall. It is, claims the author, a 'simple tale of money, lust and greed'.
Ham, however, has seen little of the first, the book having sold just under 400 copies and its publisher having become insolvent. His readership - albeit small - is appreciative, not least in the City. One consultant at McKinsey admitted to taking the book on a golfing trip to Portugal. 'I can't claim its my idea of holiday reading,' says Ham. He has now turned his hand to a novel, a post-BCCI saga of money laundering and drug trafficking. A solvent publisher has yet to be found.