After wrestling for weeks with the seemingly intractable detail of Tuesday’s emergency budget, George Osborne says it has now been sorted with a little help from his barber, Anthony.
‘After his usual pleasantries about whether I’d be cruising round Greece with my mates again this summer, but possibly not on account of Lord M’s presence and distractions vis-à-vis the Greek austerity situation, Anthony started talking about the World Cup,’ said Osborne.
‘He knew every permutation of who’d play whom in every round up to the final, depending on the outcome of the remaining group games, and the likely odds on every possible match. He’s got so many bets riding on the different outcomes that he makes money whatever happens, just like a hedge fund. I realised that here we had a finer mind than any at the Treasury.’
Mr Osborne said that after an unusually large tip, ‘too big to slip through on expenses’, Anthony agreed to help with the budget plans, getting straight to the roots of how to make immediate cuts without damaging longer term growth and cutting off your nose to spite your face.
‘I was using hairdressing analogies, but obviously not with the nose comment,’ said Anthony. ‘I said capital gains were like your hair growing, with capital being derived from the Latin for head, like, and people don’t mind you trimming some of it but will go to foreign barbers or keep it shaved if you take too much.
‘It’s the same with head count reductions: you’ll get caught out if you overdo it, like Sweeney Todd. The best approach is to thin everything out a bit and offer people a few highlights. At the end of the day, everyone gets an expensive haircut but they can go away feeling good about it.’
Mr Osborne refused to give away any details of the budget, but said it would be a bit like England’s final group match. ‘Basically you’ll get to the end of it feeling gutted and disillusioned, and then we’re in the shit for the next four years and wondering about another change of management.’