The early morning in Bermuda is pink.
Pink racing clouds across the sky, pink buildings and pink Bermuda shorts. And not to mention pink eyes from too much Goslings rum, I had decided to wear shorts and wandered down to Trimingham’s the family run shop on Front Street. Trimingham, one of the oldest families in Bermuda ran an emporium worthy of Harrods. Trimingham himself had flown in Lancaster bombers in the war, and now was the senior Executive in the bank. Their shorts came in lovely cool thin linen, socks needed to be long and the shoes black and laced. I bought it all and felt ready for the day and with my blazer, white shirt and for no particular reason, my Regimental tie.
The main building of the bank was a dazzling white cube with the shields of all the parishes around the top. Now the bank is owned by HSBC with their awful logo of the red triangles shouting out their authority over the parapet. The banking hall was quiet; voices were low and soon I was whisked up to the Executive floor and was shown to a seat.
The minutes past slowly and suddenly teak double doors opened to reveal an office with a view of the harbour. I could see swarms of small scooters snaked towards the business area, like an ant trail on the other side of the water. Palm trees, deep blue water and then standing in front of me was the Chief Executive Officer..
And he was wearing my Regimental tie.
So once again the tie saved me and we talked very little about the prospects for the Middle East, but just about old times in London and Mess Dinners we had both enjoyed.
I was instructed to go away and prepare a business plan while I was in Bermuda and an office was put at my disposal. It was up to me where they would locate. I only really knew of Bahrain so already in my mind that was where I would suggest. Later that week and on ratifying the plan, one board member, clearly bored woke up at the final meeting and shouted ‘Dubai’.
My knowledge of banking was limited so they pulled out from the woodwork a semi-retired banker who was to be my mentor. He had seen National Service as an Artillery Officer in Malaya and then had joined the Hong Kong Bank as it was. He told me that travelling from Tilbury to Hong Kong for his first posting he had enjoyed six weeks at sea in luxury. On arrival at the Causeway Pier he was met by a bank steward, all in tropical whites.
‘Where is my hotel?’ he enquired.
‘Hotel sir, no sir, start work now!’
I could not have done without him and our adventures in Bahrain were just about to start.
I was ready to go, the plan was typed out and a budget worked out on a napkin, but with the regulations and authority from two Central Banks to be granted and approved I had to relocate to London for six months, buy furniture for my house in Manama and spend time going around the Middle East, planting flags with potential contacts and making ourselves known.
And known we were known within a few trips.