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  • John Hemming-Clark

"Everyone has to be invited. Even Madonna has to be invited"

Back in the heady 1980s I acquired an American Express charge card. Green and ever so slightly pretentious. Drop it in a field and you would have trouble finding it. Not that the average AmEx cardholder would be found in a field with all that shopping to be done.

Then my friend Andrew acquired a silver AmEx card. He had to pay an annual charge for it! But the ball was in my court and I whacked it back when I applied for and received a gold AmEx. It was 30-15 to me. Several months passed and then Andrew suddenly announced, "I have a better card! AmEx have an even more exclusive card - and it's black. And what's more I've written to them for an application form!" Then it all went quiet. Then I asked Andrew if he had heard anything. His face fell.

"I rang them up the other day and they told me that I couldn't apply for a black card. 'No one applies for a black card sir,' they said. 'To obtain a black card you first have to be invited. Everyone has to be invited. Even Madonna has to be invited.'"

Just as well I reckon. Apparently the annual charge for a black card is more than I earn. Ho-hum.


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