Bunhill: Raving bankers

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The Independent Online
EXAMPLES of nice fictional bank managers have been flooding in since I suggested last week the breed did not exist. My theory that English literature and film is dominated by two types of bank manager - stuffy, pompous Captain Mainwarings and rapacious Mr Bulstrodes - is looking thin. Modern-day bank managers desperately need a role model from fiction.

Thank you for all your letters. Jane Bains of Royston, Herts, suggests George Banks in Mary Poppins, whose son Michael triggers a run on the bank by demanding the return of his tuppence - to feed the birds, if you recall.

Banks is sacked and ritually stripped of his badges of office (bowler, brolly and carnation). But when the bank chairman dies laughing at Banks's parting joke, an opening is created, and Banks is reinstated.

There are votes for the bank manager in Passport to Pimlico, who saves the finances of the fledgling state, and for the kindly bank manager in Somerset Maugham's short story The Verger.

The loyal Jarvis Lorry in Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities also gets a cheer.

One reader, John Collins of London NW5, has an affection bordering on the fanatical for an old TV series called Telford's Change, starring Peter Barkworth as an international banker who transfers to branch banking after a mid-life crisis and stuns his staff by actually wanting to go out and meet his customers.

'He doesn't just bounce their cheques,' raves Mr Collins. 'He goes out and solves their problems, be they seaside hoteliers needing new guests or wet-concrete distributors whose lorries have broken down with the concrete set inside.'

Sounds much too good to be true. And so it proves. After a showdown with a would-be seducer of his screen wife, Hannah Gordon, he decides to go back to international banking after all.

I award a bottle of champagne to Penny Heal of London SW9, who suggests the saintly George Bailey, played by James Stewart in Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life. 'He single- handedly rescues an entire town from depravity and even gives them his honeymoon money when the cashflow runs dry.'

Barclays, NatWest et al, are you listening?