Ah, the hideous power of television. Barely a year ago, Shami Ahmed was a humble purveyor of denim jeans, a budding 30-year-old wunderkind. He was happy to remain anonymous - a fact he underlined by pointedly christening his product "Joe Bloggs". Where John Madejski bought cars like Imelda Marcos bought shoes, Ahmed confined his car ownership to two: a Ferrari Testarossa and a £100,000 Bentley Turbo. Clearly, he was not the sort to let £20 million (Ahmed's suggested worth) turn his head.
Then came an invitation to appear on a Midlands television chat show called, enticingly, The Time ... The Place, on which the youthful jeaniste helped to expose a bogus duke. From that moment, he was lost. The roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd: these were what mattered to young Ahmed.
In a recent conversation with Toady, the poor boy outlined his plans, all based on winning more time on the box: talk of sponsoring television programmes, even (alas) of appearing on them himself. And there is worse. Toady's sources tell him that the youth, who only 10 years ago was to be found riding the bus from Burnley to his father's Manchester factory, is planning to manufacture the world's most expensive pair of jeans (a six-figure, jewel bedecked extravaganza) for televisual wear. Cynics suggest that Ahmed's new passion for television is merely intended to publicise his wares; but Toady will entertain no such thoughts himself.