By the middle of July 1975 I had been in full time employment for the first time for just about four weeks and I already had my first pay cheque in the bank so with money that I was unaccustomed to having I set about getting some of it spent.
My first car was a two-tone blue Hillman Imp that my parents had given to me some months earlier as a twenty-first birthday present but it was unreliable and the aluminium engine had a tendency to overheat badly which meant any journey had to be broken down into thirty mile chunks every time the orange warning light started to blink with fifteen minutes or so in between to cool down. I needed a new car but rather save up and buy one I needed one now. Bob Arrowsmith at the garage in Braunstone, who used to service the family cars, found me a bright red Hillman Avenger and I was determined to have it.
Having no money was a bit of a problem so I made an appointment with the Manager of the National Westminster Bank in Rugby for an interview for a bank loan. These days getting a bank loan is as simple as making a phone call or making an on-line application but thirty-five years ago it required an interview to assess an applicant’s suitability.
I turned up at the appointed time and was shown into the Manager’s wood panelled office, an intimidating sort of place with a large desk, red leather seat for the Manager and a wooden chair for the customer and we went through the application form and he asked me a series of questions and then he took some time to deliberate on the matter before satisfying himself that I was a reasonable risk and with a flourish of his fountain pen he signed the form and I had got £600 to buy the car.
Despite the formalities that all seemed terribly easy and before I knew it I was applying for loans and credit cards on a regular basis. Soon after this I got my first credit card, an orange, blue and white Barclaycard and I was soon spending away on that as though money had gone out of fashion (which of course, it had) and then a couple of years later I needed more money because I wanted to buy a house.
I was planning to get married and we found just the place we wanted at 118, Frobisher Road on the Admiral’s Estate in Bilton but the asking price was £8,000 and I didn’t have the £800 required for the deposit. So I made an appointment at the Bank. In those days finance was a lot simpler – Bank’s lent money for things like cars and boats and caravans and Building Societies lent money for property and everything was quite orderly. I just turned up at the bank and told the Manager that I wanted to buy a new car and as I had by now repaid the earlier loan he had no issue with advancing me some more money and after half an hour I had £800 in my bank
I took the £800 around to the Halifax Building Society where I knew the Manager, Graham Brush, and when he was satisfied that I had the deposit he signed off the mortgage application and a couple of weeks later we had our first house – it was as easy as that!