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Feather's Miscellany: Percy Lister

Percy Lister is a shrewd chap, particularly when it comes to looking after his own money.

John Waddington-Feather’s tale features a cunning Yorkshireman.

I’ve known one or two tight-fisted folk in my time, but for sheer penny-pinching Percy Lister took a lot of beating. He began work as a sixteen year-old straight from Keighworth Grammar School and for a year or so worked as a bank clerk in the town; but like all men and women destined to make a fortune, he didn’t stay there long – just long enough to know how to handle money better and learn the tricks of banking. He was no pen-pusher and in his early twenties started his own business dealing in property.

He’d always had a nose for business and even as a boy at school he was selling stuff at a profit that schoolboys want: comics, catapults, old Leggo sets, toys and the like. If he’d been born a generation later he’d have made his money in the computer games trade. Yet, even as an old man he had his wits about him and learned how to manage a computer. As a result he doubled his earnings overnight, and by the time he was seventy he was a multi-millionaire.

He’d long left Keighworth by then and settled in a luxury apartment in London, although he always kept his old home in Keighworth, which he visited from time to time and used to say: “If Keighworth had Caribbean weather, I’d never have left.” for he also had a villa on a Caribbean island where he spent much of his later life.

He became well known in the City, where Lister’s Property Ltd had its headquarters. His American headquarters, Lister’s Realty Inc, were equally well known in New York which he visited regularly.

On one of those visits he drove to the airport in a brand-new Ferrari car he’d bought the day before, but before he checked in he went to a nearby bank and asked for a £5,000 loan for the next fourteen days, saying he was off to America on business. The bank manager was rather taken aback but true to type didn’t want to lose a good deal but said that the bank would require the usual security before it could lend money. Percy pulled out the documents and receipt for his new car which he’d parked outside the bank, and the manager went to look at it. Then he came back inside and agreed to accept the £120,000 car as collateral for the £5,000 loan. Percy signed an agreement and the car was driven to the underground garage of the bank while Percy was in New York.

Percy was then driven the short distance to the airport by a bank employee. There he checked in and flew out later that morning to New York, where he took a cab to his hotel in the city. Two weeks later having completed his business he returned to London and went to the bank near the airport, where he coughed up the £5,000 loan plus the interest of £15.50.

While he’d been away the bank manger had been doing his homework and found out who Percy really was, so that when they met he was very deferential. “Mr Lister,” he said, “We’ve been very happy to do business with you. The transaction we made has worked out well and we’ll be pleased to help you any time in the future.”

“Good,” Percy replied. “I’ll come for a loan every time I go abroad.”

“We’ll be delighted,” said the bank manager, but then looked puzzled. “But I really can’t help asking why you wanted that £5,000 loan when obviously you’re so wealthy.”

“Quite simple,” said Percy with a chuckle. “I never chuck good money away but where else can I park my car safely in London for a fortnight and pay only £15.50?”

John Waddington-Feather ©


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