The Manhattan Affair, Chapter One

To date, the day to day excitement of the licensing industry has never been captured in fiction. Until now. Read on for the first chapter in The Manhattan Affair...
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The problem with being in the licensing business as long as I have is that you start to believe that you’ve seen and heard everything. It’s three o’clock in the afternoon on a wet February morning and I’m staring at the window trying to put off making a call to Phil Menwith at the Coolthings agency. Why I am trying to put off making this call? Because I think I know what Phil’s going to say, and I don’t really want to hear it. See? I’m even arrogant enough to think I know what he’s going to say to me before I’ve picked up the phone. So I do it anyway.

"Coolthings. To whom may I direct your call?"

"Phil Menwith, please"

"Who shall I say is calling?"

"Tell him it’s the Archbishop of Canterbury about the photographs Phil borrowed."

I wish. The truth is it went like this.

"Lance, how’s it going, mate?"

"The usual, Phil, keeping the pieces stuck together as best we can."

"Got a proposal for me yet on the Moonsters? Any of your mob interested? I’ve got offers coming out of my ears and it’s toy fair next week and I expect to be signed up in all sorts of categories by the time I get to New York."

I can picture Phil Menwith in his fourteenth floor office off Tottenham Court Road, feet up on his ten-grand Heal’s black-lacquer desk. Made a lot of money ten years ago on the Purple Avengers and never got round to spending it. At least not on drinks bought for me.

"Phil, all my clients are looking at the Moonsters but we probably need a bit more info on the TV before we can be definite. I’ll talk to you in New York about that. I was actually calling on something else."

"Can’t wait forever, Lance, I’ve got ‘em queuing up here. 104 eps in production and you’re still fannying around on it. Confectionery’ll be gone soon, all the toys as well..."

I interrupt. Time to get it over with.

"In New York, Phil, okay? I promise. Before the LIMA bash. Now, we need to talk about the Blastboys audit."

"What’s to talk, just send us the money. Bang-to-rights your guys at Entwhistles, no doubt. Shouldn’t even talk to you, lawyers stuff by now, this."

"That’s not how we see it, Phil. Your auditor’s got his numbers completely arse over tit, not to mention asking for penalties that aren’t even in the contract. We reckon there’s about three grand owing, hardly enough to cover the audit costs. I’m wondering if we can make a quiet agreement and put it behind us."

"Your guys not going to pay up?"

"No, Phil, they are not. This has always looked like a stitch-up and they’re not buying. I might be able to get you five grand if we can square it before New York."

"Just a minute, Lance, will you mate? Need something from the other room."

So I hang on the phone and try staring at the window again hoping the view might change to something more spectacular than the bad side of the Isle of Dogs in the rain. Two hundred quid a square foot and you get to look at the back of an old crane. Actually you can see a bit of Millwall Dock if you lean way over to the left. I get so into it I don’t notice nearly ten minutes go by. Then the phone again, a woman’s voice.

"Hello? Who’s there?"

"it’s Lance Crane from the Everything Company, I was talking to Phil. Is he coming back?."

"I’m afraid not. He’s just jumped out of the window."

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