Secrets and Subterfuge, better known as 007.5 , has a piece about a book she is reading.
In it, the hero ( for all sorts of reasons) after his death meets the five people who have influenced him most.
Now, you could be influenced by obscure people who you can't remember I suppose, but I have a very clear idea of those who have influenced me.
The first would be my old maths teacher, who is still alive. In truth, he wasn't that much older than me when he was teaching me, but he always had a gravitas and knowledge which has ever surpassed my own. One of the things he instilled in me was a love of the theatre, which you might think strange from a maths teacher. But that is the sort of person he remains.
The second was the headmaster at the same time. For a variety of reasons, I had to sit next to him, his wife, or a visiting dignitary at lunch every day for over a year. I'm never too sure whether it made a man of me or scarred me for life.
Third would be my mother.
Fourth would be my first girlfriend. After we went our separate ways, I contracted mumps and my landlady threw me out on the street at 1am - in pajamas and a rug. Now young men must not move when they have mumps, for fear of ruining their matrimonial prospects.The only person I could phone was the Miss Ex Girlfriend ( they were Miss in those days, and described as girlfriends) who took me in and looked after me for over three weeks. I'm convinced, had it not been for her, I would never have had children.
Finally, it would have to be the banker who first lent me money. I don't mean £50, I mean for a deal - for a business deal. In those days, the manager of the branch took 95% of all lending decisions, based on their experience and knowledge of the customer. Only when it got to be a big sum did it go up the line.Now you can't even get to talk to anyone unless you already owe them £250,000 - and you want to borrow another similar amount. But then, the middle-aged man, approaching retirement ( and yes, it was always a man) would discuss your requirements, make suggestions, and probably put you in touch with some of his other customers who might be useful.
Anyway, this man, when I asked for an appointment, immediately ushered me into his office, and offered me a seat. I think I was 19 at the time, and he treated me both with respect and as an adult. This was all the more extraordinary, as, then, you could not be held responsible for debts incurred before the age of 21 - or vote for that matter.
But he listened gravely, asked a couple of questions, and agreed that he would lend me the money.
And then he said: " Just remember, it's not your money, or my money, or even the Bank's money. It belongs to all the people who entrust their lifesavings to us. So look after it."
If only people had the same view today.