A very serious conversation with Mr Brian Butterfield ahead of his Nottingham Theatre Royal seminar

Interview: Ian C. Douglas
Monday 13 May 2024
reading time: min, words

After decades spent opening and closing businesses, entrepreneur extraordinaire Mr Brian Butterfield has a wealth of knowledge and wisdom to impart. Reflecting on his illustrious career, which has included everything from karaoke bars and injury solicitors to inaccurate speaking clocks and dubious diet plans, he’s coming to the Theatre Royal next month. We sat down with Brian for a very serious chat about finance, tax and the secret to success…


A big LeftLion welcome to the prodigious talent that is Mr Brian Butterfield. I’m sure our readers will want me to probe you deeply, Mr Butterfield. I’m guessing that a man of your experience is no stranger to probing?
You’re absolutely right there Mr Lion - I am indeed no stranger to Probing. In fact, I’ve visited Probing on several occasions and on each and every visit I’ve enjoyed it more and more. It’s a lovely town so thank you for having me. Is that where we are?

This tour is named the Call of Now. Why?
In business, there is no yesterday, there is no tomorrow, there is no three weeks ago, there is no four years hence, there is no last year, there is no million years from today. In business there is only now. The moment you’re in. And it just went. And now there’s a new now. And that just went too. And so on. Oh, and there is also the next fiscal quarter, which is also important. But The Call of Now And The Next Fiscal Quarter wouldn’t fit on the posters.

You’re one of the titans of business. What is the secret of your success?
The secret of my success is exactly that. A secret. If I told you what it was, it wouldn’t exactly be a secret any more, would it? Having said that, it’s never giving up, no matter how many people tell you to. But now that I’ve told you, please don’t tell anyone else.

I believe you were closely involved with Circus Horse Dentist. Did you ever get any gift horses and if so, did you look at them in the mouth? Or anywhere else?
I’m afraid you’ve been misinformed a little bit here: no one has ever given me a horse. I once recovered a clothes horse from a neighbour’s skip, which is close, but I don’t believe that has a mouth. Or, if it does, I haven’t located it yet.

Another highlight of your CV was the Lord Mayor’s Croupier. What business lessons did you learn from the gaming tables of London’s elite?
The main lesson I learned is that the gaming tables of London’s elite don’t admit people who are wearing a Lord Mayor’s Croupier disguise and accidentally reveal their name is Brian. Even the Bingo halls of Weston-Super-Mare were reluctant to admit me. But I did make it inside one once by climbing through a toilet window.

How do you see failure in the business world?
There’s no such thing as failure, just successes that perhaps cause financial ruin, bankruptcy, lead to your house and belongings being repossessed, and so forth. Who’s to say success can’t leave you sleeping in a car on your neighbour’s drive for three months? How do you measure ‘success’ anyway? How long is a mile of string? Some questions are just impossible to answer.

My early life taught me how to crawl, digest food and drink, walk and create business plans, so it was very valuable to my current position as a business leader, and I’m thankful that I got to have it.

What can people coming along to your seminar expect on the night?
They can expect a roof, adequate seating, some toilet provision, possibly some sort of carpet or fabric floor covering and an ambient temperature broadly within the legal range. Anything more than that is a bonus.

How did your early life influence you?
My early life taught me how to crawl, digest food and drink, walk and create business plans, so it was very valuable to my current position as a business leader and I’m thankful that I got to have it.

I understand you have connections with Peter Serafinowicz. Any insights you’d like to share about the relationship?
I’m sorry but that sounds like some sort of made-up pseudonym or codename. Is he a covert spy, undercover policeman or gladiator? It’s a frankly unbelievable jumble of vowels and consonants. I ask you - ‘Peter’?!

What advice would you give the business community on income tax?
The short answer is ‘pay it’. The long answer is ‘I absent-mindedly forgot to pay mine for the best part of a decade due to various misunderstanding about how to log into the HMRC website and as a result was hit by court proceedings and a rather hefty fine which came at a time when I was already dealing with my range of portable Butterfield Fracking Towers having to be recalled due to various legal and ethical issues, which in turn threw me into a severe financial crisis that I’ve never really recovered from, so pay it.’ You can see why I call that the long answer.

What are your pronouns and why?
They are business/man and I very much imagine you know why.

What’s it like being a titan?
When I look in my mirror at home, I don’t see a titan. Instead, what I see is a sort of blotchy brown pattern with some dark patches and lots of little cracks running all over the surface. Come to think of it, I have had that mirror for a very long time. You don’t know anybody giving away a free mirror do you?

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the name ‘Nottingham’?
It’s a rather long and thin piece of ham in which somebody - perhaps a sailor or boy scout - has tied a knot. Perhaps a reef knot. But not a sheep shank because that would be reserved for lamb chops.

In conclusion, any financial advice or tips for our readers?
Yes, absolutely - I have three financial tips I can impart from mistakes I’ve made already so far today. Tip 1) Do not attempt to dry wet banknotes in the microwave. It will result in your microwave catching fire and you being quickly escorted out of Curry’s Digital. Tip 2) If you accidentally drive into a pond, do not try to retrieve your money from the glove box before escaping to the surface. Oxygen is one of the few things more important than profit. Tip 3) Don’t skimp on getting your car serviced and then pay a teenager on the internet to forge an MOT certificate, because the rear wheel might then fall off just as you’re turning a corner near a pond.

Brian Butterfield’s Call of Now is at Theatre Royal Sunday 9 June. Probe even deeper into the world of Brian Butterfield with this interview with his creator, TV and movie star Peter Serafinowicz.

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