George was more than a little perplexed. He had suggested to Sir Nicholas M. that he could solve the government borrowing crisis by getting an overdraft from the Natwest. While this had seemed like a good idea at the time to keep old Macpherson quiet, now that George had had time to think about it, he was very troubled. In short, he did not like banks.
The first time he had been in a bank was with his father. George was very young and bored, and didn’t like the look of Mr Kermody, who was the manager at Coutts. Kermody had asked, in a very creepy way, whether George “wanted to show him his portfolio.” George had had incidents like that with the big boys at Eton, and hadn’t enjoyed them at all.
When George had become a grown up he still didn’t like banks, and suspected that banks didn’t like George either. George had lots of good ideas about how he could improve things, but the bank managers always seemed to be in meetings, and when they replied to his letters only said that they found George’s ideas “interesting”.
He asked Frances whether, if she wasn’t doing anything else, she would mind going to the Nat West and asking Mr Witherspoon whether they could have an overdraft for, say, 910 billion pounds. Frances started to speak Polish again, but then smiled in her lovely way, and said that she was busy that morning, as she had to alphabetise the wine cellar.
After a great deal of head scratching, George decided that action was needed. He telephoned the Chelsea branch of Lloyds and arranged an appointment. He said his name was “Gideon Usborne”. He didn’t want to give his own name in case they started sending him letters and suchlike.
(Usborne was like his own name, but with one letter different. Gideon was what he had been called at school. He didn’t like the name, because people kept thanking him for the bible, even though George was sure he had never given anyone a bible. So George had changed his name to “George” and no one ever mentioned bibles again. Result! As the young people said these days.)
The meeting had not gone well. Mr Jackson-Pollock, the manager of Lloyds, Chelsea, had begun by saying “Thanks for the bible”, and laughed like a drain when George told him that the wanted to borrow 910 billion pounds at 0.75%. In the end George had come home with a new current account, an accident insurance policy and a shiny pen, which, although it was nice, was not as nice as the pen that Kylie had bought for him from WHSmiths.
George liked his new shiny desk.
When no one else was in the room, he could bend over it, and see all the way up his nose.