Work came to a halt in the Commercial Department of Turquands Barton Mayhew & Co. We gathered round in expectation. A few buttons pressed and our new-fangled facsimile machine, with its own dedicated telephone line, sprang into life with a series of hums and buzzes. We were faxing a document to New York and it was the wonder of the age. At the NYC end an identical machine was deciphering and printing the document. It took about six minutes. We gazed in awe.
Not so many years later the fax machine is more or less redundant, overtaken by even more wondrous technology.
The late 70s in Jersey were certainly different from now. The holidaymakers still arrived in their hordes, the sun seemed to shine continuously, the alcohol was cheap and plentiful, there were nightly shows and entertainment all over the Island. Most of us were still youngish and we hung out and partied lots. The idea of ‘going home’ after a couple of years got sort-of forgotten as careers progressed and love blossomed, faded, and grew again.
Work consisted of looking after portfolios of private clients, both Jersey-based and others. Much of it was familiar – churning out sets of accounts, but there was also administration and correspondence. Increased telephone work meant that I quickly learnt to moderate my thick Brummie accent so as to be understood.
One day a couple of oil barons from Calgary or somewhere turned up unannounced, boots, Stetsons and everything. That same day they had almost completed a reverse takeover of one of our smaller listed companies for one of their ventures. It wouldn’t have happened in Birmingham!
Those were the days of unregulated financial dealings. Clients (not necessarily TBM clients) would jet in, withdraw thousands from their offshore accounts, stick the money in envelopes and mail them to mysterious places. Funds arrived from strange sources and were merrily banked, no questions asked. Guys walked the streets with heavy briefcases, swapping Kruggerands for cash, and vice versa. There would be regular days out to Sark (the fourth largest Channel Island) for meetings of sham directors to be held and minutes signed there at the harbour. This malarkey was to change quickly and radically in the years that followed with the Channel Islands now at the forefront of financial regulation.
Good times, good friends. But after six years, in 1983, I took an opportunity to take my first venture into life outside a professional office.