18 April 2018



'He was at the centre of the biggest banking scandal you've never heard of.'

'He played too big too fast. People don't like it when you start like a mouse and finish like an elephant.'

'If you're building an empire and the empire is collapsing, you're just firefighting all the time.'

'One thing about Nobu. If he does something, he gets actively involved.'

'I think RBS is criminal, but the key here is EVIDENCE.'

'There's no accountability from politicians and bankers.'

'Nobu was alone, sinking like a rusty old ship.'

'Once you lie, more lie needed.'

'I never give up.'

You could say that I learned everything I know about ships from films such as TITANIC and THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE. These may not have been the best examples, however, as both films ended in disaster. However, I did read extensively about Greek-and-other shipping billionaires when I was growing up.

My source was the couple of hundred torrid MILLS & BOON romances that had lodged in the attic of our house for as long as I could remember. I think they'd belonged to my mother, who'd stored them away in the attic when she married my father and presumably didn't need them any more.

(NB, Just as a matter of some slight interest, my father is not now nor ever has been a Greek-or-other shipping billionaire. Should she perhaps have held onto these romances and not allowed them to become mouse-nibbled, damp and mouldy in our attic? Sadly, we'll probably never know.)

These Greek-and-other shipping billionaires were all tall, dark and handsome with terribly dominant personalities. They saw what they wanted and they went after it, whether that was a rival's shipping company or a beautiful impoverished little mouse of a governess-cum-companion to an elderly person, like Jane Eyre or the Joan Fontaine character in REBECCA.

I always wanted to meet and perhaps even marry one of these dominant shipping billionaire types. A champagne lifestyle filled with yachts, luxury Mercedes and designer togs would have gone down very nicely indeed with my good self. Strangely, however, it never happened. My kids and hamsters and I were sorely disappointed.

The closest I ever came to brushing up against this mysterious world of ships and billions and billions of dollars was when I watched this intriguing documentary, THE OUTSIDER.

It's the story of one of these self-same shipping billionaires, but one who's been through the financial wringer a bit rather than simply quaffing champers atop a mattress of money and beautiful women all the livelong day. His name is Nobu Su and THE OUTSIDER is his story...

Nobu Su is a devilishly cute Taiwanese shipping billionaire, the kind who'd be able to charm the birds out of the trees with his smile, his enthusiasm and his blarney. He was born into a shipping family and took over the family business when his beloved father passed away.

As the only son amongst five sisters, Nobu Su always felt like he had a lot to live up to. This
wasn't a problem for him, however, as he genuinely seems to adore the whole ship-designing, shipbuilding and shipping processes. That's one thing that really comes across in the film. This guy loves ships and might even be said to live for them. 'I love ship, wow!'

He admits to having been fascinated as a child with the whole 'how does an engine work' type of thing. He was probably the kind of annoying nipper who took stuff apart just to see how it worked, lol. He loved the business of shipping as well though. He says himself: 'Some boys read the comic books. I read the commodity books...! I think shipping is in my blood.'

Anyway, this curious little boy grew up to be a billionaire who designed and launched his own ships and became a gigantic force to be reckoned with in an industry dominated mostly by these aforementioned Greek shipping tycoons. 'I made a lot of money, so I was smiling every day.' Well, I should bloody well think so, lol.

Nobu Su loves all the trappings that go with being super-rich. He loves having his own private plane, he loves his designer clothes and he loves his many exclusive golf club memberships. He reminded me of Simon Masrani, the fictional owner of the dinosaur theme-park in the movie JURASSIC WORLD, 'a guy so rich he doesn't even know the half of what he owns.'

A rather nasty chap who's interviewed in the film describes Nobu Su's look as follows: 'He looks like an Asian gentleman's idea of what an English gentleman would wear at the Dorchester.' Now, this guy, who's hardly a model of sartorial magnificence himself, was being bitchy here but I loved Nobu Su's look. I thought he was a natty, dapper dresser with his bow-ties and colourful checked suits. At least he's not dull and boring, like his detractor whom you definitely wouldn't pick out of a crowd.

I also loved his unendingly positive attitude. Despite his troubles, which we'll get to in a minute, he's the kind of guy who consistently says 'okay great, let's do it!' to things, instead of 'oh no, that's too hard, I won't bother with that!'

He loves hard. He loves the seemingly impossible. He loves a challenge and he certainly never backs down from one. Now that's the kind of go-get-'em attitude you need to become a billionaire shipbuilder. He's also a brilliant analyst of the shipping business and made a great deal of money out of something called freight-forward agreements.

Then the world financial crisis of 2008 happened. This year marked the beginning of our own humble little recession here in Ireland, a tough time for all non-billionaire types such as myself. The public of Ireland had to bail out the banks and Fianna Fail, the political party that presided over the boom-to-bust times, slunk out of office in disgrace.

Oh, they're back in favour again now though, so don't worry. Here in Ireland, we have a funny habit of never penalising the fat-cats who brought us to ruin. Rather, we just keep electing 'em and allowing them to live off the fat of the land until they eventually die years later, bloated and rich.

Anyway, the world financial crisis of 2008 had one particular repercussion for Nobu Su, one he didn't foresee, despite his genuine gift of being able to read the shipping forecast, as it were. He ended up suing RBS, the Royal Bank of Scotland, a gigantic bank with a long tradition of lending money to Greek ship-owners, for the billions of dollars he suspected them of finagling from his account. Here's what he says about it himself:

'In shipping, I made billions. But in the financial crisis, RBS stole maybe billions from my account. I went crazy trying to find out what happened and I destroyed my company, my reputation and my family. Eventually I discover that RBS hijack my account, but everyone thinks I'm crazy, no-one believes me. Now I want to prove it. I want to fight back, so I sue them.'

He sees himself as 'an individual who was extremely wealthy and an easy target for extortion.' The 'major irregularities in his accounts,' through no fault of his own, I might add, make Father Ted's efforts to siphon off a few bob from parish funds for his own personal use look pitiful, lol.

So, does the documentary furnish any actual proof that RBS is guilty of stealing from Nobu Su? Well, a former employee of RBS is heard on the phone saying that the whole situation is 'a travesty. An absolute travesty. He's (Nobu Su) definitely been turned over. I have no qualms about that.' It's very exciting the way they disguise this fella's voice, by the way. How could you not trust a guy whose voice has been disguised to sound like a London gangster, lol...?

Find out the results of Nobu Su's search for truth and justice in the film, and also what happens when he goes to war with Megabank, Taiwan's biggest bank. He was also utterly devastated when the whole unpleasant business with RBS cost him his marriage and his relationship with his two beautiful daughters. One of them says the following in the film:

'He brought me up to believe in the family business and the value of the family. I wanted to prove myself to him, and then he vanished. If it wasn't for my mother, I don't know what we would have done. We have to be a family before we can be a family business.' Good point.

He's told by one of his daughters when he turns up to her graduation that: 'you look like a magician. You have a talent for disappearing too!' Dad thanks her for her kind words, but I don't think it's a compliment, somehow. Trust a guy not to be able to tell...

Anyway, THE OUTSIDER is a fascinating and compelling look into the life of a shipping billionaire who's had his fair share of ups-and-downs and whose way it is to 'piss people off.' I enjoyed every thrilling second of it, despite my admittedly limited knowledge of the business of shipping.

And just to add as well, dear Nobu Su, that I am single, just in case you ever decide to take a night off from designing the ships you love. Single and impoverished, haha, just like you shipping billionaires are supposed to hugely dig. I'd give that mousy little bitch Jane Eyre a run for her money any day of the week...

The Outsider premieres at the East End Film Festival on 20th April, followed by a limited theatrical release and arrives on digital 4 May 2018.


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


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