It has to be said that I'm not in the rudest of healths right now.
The old winter vomit bug has descended on downtown Loddon and my usual generous, friend-to-all-men nature is not exactly overly to the fore.
I'm in a bit of a sh*tty mood, if truth be told.
So today's front page splash in the Eastern Daily Press that Peter Cullum was “under the cosh” and wouldn't be riding to Norwich's rescue this cash-strapped winter didn't exactly prompt the 'Wow… no kidding…' reaction it might have been looking for.
Because the fact that Cullum might have more to worry about rather closer to his Kent home has been a matter of public record since the late summer when Towergate's 2007 figures were released.
Which revealed a ?14.7 million loss after tax for the year ending December 31, 2007.
The principal reason for which, according to the Insurance Times, were “interest payments and finance costs” of over ?59 million.
Which, to you and me, were the mortgage and loan repayments Towergate have accrued over the last decade or so as the so-called 'King Of Deals' went on his merry spending spree snapping up provincial brokers and independent financial advisors as if there were no tomorrow.
Funnily enough, the fact that Norwich's supposed knight in shining white armour presided over a loss-making business never got much of a mention elsewhere.
Don't know why…
And, remember, that ?14.7 million loss after tax was for 2007. And, clearly, life's got an awful lot rosier for all of us in 2008…
Which may, in part, explain why this autumn the Financial Times were reporting the fact that Towergate were in talks with their bankers with regard to renegotiating their banking covenants… the level and timing of their mortgage repayments, to you and me.
According to the FT's report, Towergate enjoyed a ?580 million 'facility' with HBOS-LloydsTSB – and then topped that up with another ?100 mill off the Royal Bank of Scotland.
Which, of course, we tax-payers now own to the tune of 60%. Not forgetting our 40% slice of the merged HBOS-LloydsTSB outfit.
Which on the back of my traditional fag packet, suggests that me, you and every Eastern Daily Press reader is already up to our necks in the 'King Of Deals' business to the tune of ?270 million.
Not that I've seen that mentioned anywhere else, particularly.
Don't know why…
Which is why Cullum's own quote this morning prompted a rare, wry smile.
“The credit crunch is going to be hurting people, so suddenly investing in a football club is quite unlikely for many people – especically if you look at the numbers.
“If you did that, you would be seriously worried.”
Wouldn't you just?
“You haven't got to be much of a mathematician to work out that many football clubs are in trouble.”
In fairness to the man himself, he admitted that his own business was no different.
“We are all under the cosh. And we can only guess what 2009 will hold.”
Exactly. And we've still yet to discover what 2008 held for Towergate and Co.
You don't have to be too much of a mathematician, an economist or, indeed, a newspaper to work out that anyone who hit the acquisition trail of late – aggresively and largely on the back of some serious bank lending – might have more on their plate right now than to be worrying about the fate of a Championship football club.
And yet, turn inside to Page 20 of today's Eastern Daily Press, and the Comment column and it is “increasingly clear” that in turning down Peter Cullum's overtures in 2007, the “powers that be at Carrow Road looked a gift horse in the mouth…”
“An open goal has been missed, with potentially devastating consequences…”
Why is it “increasingly clear”? What is increasingly clear – if anyone can ever be bothered to look at the numbers – is that, like the rest of us, Cullum's own business is going through the credit crunch mincer.
That at the time of his alleged ?20 million “offer” in the autumn of 2007 his own business was racking up a ?14.7 million loss – and all before it ever set sail into the turbulent financial seas that were 2008.
And, in his own words, we can only guess at what 2009 might bring…
Sure, he's a billionaire. A billionaire as and when he cashes his Towergate chips in. Is the market actually there for either a float or a sale? In 2009?
For Delia Smith, 2009 brings more work, more books, more TV shows and all in a desperate bid to fund the ?3 million shortfall in this year's accounts; her own retirement plans put on hold for another year. Right now and there are at least half a dozen Championship clubs who would bite your hand off for an owner whose name can still launch a new TV series and a Daily Mail supplement.
So was Cullum ever this great knight in shining white armour that some have always portrayed him to be?
I'm not sure he is. I suspect, if truth were ever to be told, it is a lucky escape for both parties.
As his own business gets squeezed beyond recognition, I suspect the last thing Cullum would have needed would to have been the owner of a Championship football club with 25,000 supporters baying every other weekend for him to get his cheque book out.
Without Cullum on board, the Canaries – “dare we say it…” – face “the threat of financial meltdown”, according to said EDP Comment column.
Be nice, for once, if same newspaper dared to have a peak at Mr Cullum's own numbers. Because, as we all know, there's always two sides to every story.
Oh, and Happy New Year…