A Money Making Scheme

May 4th 2006“What’s this?” said Atkins Down The Road.When I answered the door he was standing there, his arm round an inflatable rubber woman. I hazarded a guess. “Your new girlfriend?”

“Very funny. Now be serious.”“It’s an inflatable rubber woman. And you’d better come inside with it, I don’t care for men standing on my doorstep with an inflatable rubber woman, people might think you’re delivering it.”

“The only think I’m delivering is our very rosy future,” smiled Atkins, stepping inside.I already didn’t like the sound of it. From time to time Atkins has ‘bright ideas’ which will make him a fortune. They never do. And for some reason he always wants to involve me in them, usually because he’s too broke to finance them himself. It will be a long time before I forget his mobile massage parlour idea that cost me eight hundred quid and almost cost me my marriage.

“Let’s be having it then,” I said, once we’d reached the living room, “The bright idea,” I quickly added, in case he thought I meant the rubber woman.

“What you are looking at,” said Atkins, going into his sales pitch, “is not an inflatable rubber woman. It was an inflatable rubber woman. Now it is an Artificial Passenger Aid. Or APT. Or at least it will be when I’ve got some clothes for it.” A thought struck him. He weighed up the rubber woman for a moment. “She’s about the same size as your wife. I don’t suppose….?

I nipped this in the bud straight away. “What exactly is an Artificial Passenger Aid?”

“Or APT. Well apparently they’re making one lane of the motorways for the exclusive use of cars carrying at least one passenger.” He patted the inflatable rubber woman on the bottom, affectionately. “One passenger.”

“You intend to sell inflatable rubber women to drivers so that they can use them as pretend passengers?

“Got it in one.”

It seemed like a good idea by Atkins’ standards but I immediately saw a snag. “Why won’t car owners simply buy an inflatable rubber woman themselves?”

“Embarrassment. Would you go into a shop and buy an inflatable rubber woman? No. Hardly anybody would. I wouldn’t.”

“You bought that one.”

“Yes but the people I bought it off didn’t know what it was. The Age Concern shop. They were using it as a mannequin. I’d have bought the clothes it was in too but they wanted too much for them. We can do it all mail order. All very discreet, plain brown packaging. I’ve costed it all out, we can get the rubber women for about a tenner, say another tenner for charity shop clothes, twenty quid all in, we charge fifty plus p and p. We’ll clean up.

I must admit it seems like a good idea on the face of it. But then all Atkins ideas do. I told him I’ll give it some thought.