Mark – the second of my objectionable employers – had a repertoire of objectionable catchphrases. An idiosyncratic one was "the guts and the balls". This was used in self-aggrandising tales of encounters with rivals. In these tales Mark would invariably meet his rival at a function or exhibition, confront him with some grievance such as an accusation of plagiarism, and then the rival would lack “the guts and the balls” to admit to his guilt. Sometimes these rivals wouldn’t even have the guts and the balls to talk to Mark at all.
This catchphrase always struck me as important. Mark was verbally castrating and then disembowelling his opponents, while at the same time revealing his own insecurities about his cowardliness which, in personal matters, was notorious. His tales were, however, strangely compelling, and it was only afterwards that you questioned them.