The strange tale is told in ‘Old Man’ Potter’s new book – It’s A Wonderful LIFFE – in which he recounts his decision, prompted by the banking crisis, to commit suicide by jumping off Tower Bridge on Christmas Eve, only to have been prevented from doing so by Clarence, a stranger who claimed to be his Guardian Angel.
Potter goes on to explain that Clarence showed him what life would have been like for everyone if he had never existed.
In this alternate timeline, BNP Paribas didn’t spark off a sub-prime loan crisis, which in turn didn’t lead to the global credit crunch. Northern Rock was a successful and much-loved British bank with a glorious future ahead of it. The British government didn’t have to bail out struggling banks with billions of pounds of taxpayer’s money and there wasn’t the first run on a British bank for 150 years.
Potter then recalls running down an alternative Wimbledon High Street shouting, “Hello Woolworths, hello Borders! Nothing was boarded up, and former Comet employees weren’t offering blowjobs for spare change on every street corner.”
As Potter ran on and on, things became even more wonderful.
No-one had heard of Robert Peston. Most people still thought Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac must be RnB singers. The people of Ireland hadn’t had to return to an all potato diet; and people all over Britain were looking forward to a fortnight in Thessaloniki.
By the time they had reached the end of the vision the Angel was slumped on the ground, with his head in his hands. “Go ahead and jump,” he advised Potter. “No, seriously.”
However Potter, now revitalised with a new zest for investment, immediately announced his plans to apply for a post with Credit Suisse, and then to begin lending insanely to people who couldn’t repay, whilst putting in for a whopping great bonus.
“Hear that?” Clarence is said to have muttered to Potter as he trudged sadly away, “Do you hear that? Exactly! Nothing. No bell, no wings, nothing! Thanks a lot, you fucking asshole.”
Meanwhile down the street, sub-prime lender and popular local banking hero George Bailey had run into serious trouble, but was was being bailed out of his own financial apocalypse by a successful US banker who’d nipped off to Europe some years before and had made a fortune there, mostly by exploiting the poor.