Calling London – a new title for Threadgold Press

On the 12th June, Threadgold Press is very proud to be releasing a book outside its usual genre. This book is scholarly, genuinely readable and historically important.In the twentieth century men from the Midland Bank travelled the world to try and understand how overseas centres of finance and industry functioned, to promote their business and meet their counterparts in other countries.

They were inquisitive, openminded and energetic. They sent back reports from Chicago, New Orleans, Montreal, St Petersburg, Vienna, Stockholm, Paris, Tokyo, Prague, Hong Kong, Buenos Aires and many, many other cities. They had an uncanny knack of fetching up in these centres at moments of high drama. And they reported back in detail and without political allegiance.

These reports are available for study in the archives of HSBC in London. Calling London set these reports into historical context with fascinating extracts along the way. 

Calling London: Travels by British Bankers, 1904-63

The back cover says:

There is hardly a happening in the world that does not have its repercussions, immediately or eventually, on Overseas Branch. Midland Venture, 1933

From 1904 to the 1960s managers of the Midland Bank in London travelled the world to visit centres of finance and industry and then report back. They often arrived, by chance or intention, at crucial moments in history – Russia in 1909, Austria in 1931, France in 1944, Chile and Japan 1948 and for example Germany in 1933:

Dr. Fischer was careful to explain to me, quite irrelevantly, that Hitler was a most peaceable and peace-loving man to whom war-like intentions were entirely foreign… W.F. Crick, Berlin, 1933

In a scholarly, informative and fascinating account, Edwin Green sets this rich resource in historical context. While Calling London throws light on local conditions in some serious times, it also includes delightful insights into how British Bankers were seen abroad:

Mr. Holden is no dreamer. The way he hands out a cigar is suggestive of the rapier. Toronto News, 23 September, 1904

Edwin Green was appointed as the Midland Bank’s first archivist in 1974. From 1993 until his retirement in 2007 he was group Archivist at HSBC in London, where the records of the Midland’s Overseas Branch are located. He is the author and co-author of many publications on banking and business history, including histories of the Midland Bank, The Mercantile Bank of India and the Institute of Bankers. He is uniquely placed to guide future researchers to this gold mine of twentieth century business archives.

From 12 June book will be available directly from Threadgold Press (pensioners and staff get a reduced rate) or from Amazon.

In case you think a gremlin has taken over my blog… here are some peonies. 

Disintegrating Earth – don’t panic!

I have just finished Jared Diamond’s book, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive. I found it riveting, though being so full of information it is a substantial read. He looks in detail at societies, ancient and modern, that have failed, imploded or are now struggling (e.g. Greenland Norse, Easter Island, Maya, Rwanda, Haiti etc). He analyses the  many factors from natural climate change (cold periods, drought), through human activity (deforestation, poisonous mining outfall) to political (every type). What emerges clearly is that there are nearly always multiple factors at play many of which we can, if we have the foresight, control (population, pollution etc). He also points out that some nations in the past have perceived their problems and acted in time (e.g. Japan two centuries ago and the Dominican Republic more recently to reverse serious deforestation). The chapters on China and Australia are packed with information that was much of it news to me. I should note that Collapse was published in 2005, but the data remains entirely relevant.

This book also showed how people have individually and collectively persuaded those wielding power in politics and business to change and sort out some major problems. The remaining problems are an immediate threat and will affect the next generation. But I have been left with a determination to make changes in my own small corner.

This positive feeling was enhanced by the delightful lecture broadcast on the BBC This World a couple of days ago titled: Don’t Panic – The Truth About Population, given by Professor Hans Rosling (statistician and physician) . With gentle humour he exposed the misapprehensions of the majority of first world people about the life and problems of the third world (we didn’t know that the birth rate in Bangladesh is now under 2.5% and world literacy is now at 80%). There are gigantic challenges, but we are, he claims, doing better than we think.

Those of us who have, must learn to have a little less, share scarce resources and manage those that are remaining a lot better than we have to date. I didn’t mean to sound quite so evangelical. Back to the DIY insulation and put on another jumper.

Meanwhile roses are still blooming.

Rosa Susan

Rosa Susan