The story so far: the noble Lord trained many years ago at the Midland Bank.
Lord Selsdon: In the merchant banking side you could be called an “esq”—I was known as “Lord Esq”—but you had to be a “mister” in the bank; you could not be an esquire because you were not landed. These people knew their job. You would be asked, “Have you been there?”—that meant that you could not lend to anybody unless you had been to the country in the last 90 days, or unless you or the manager had visited the client in the last day. You had to know thy customer. Then, if they were not sure about it, they would introduce a strange phrase ... “Committee, I think we are not sure enough. I think it should be an FFW”. I did not know what an FFW was and I did not dare go and ask other people. Quietly, I asked how long we had been using the term “FFW”. “Oh, before my time, my dear chap, way before my time”.
I then found out that only Midland had it. It was a “fair following wind”. It meant that, if the project stacked up, the agreement, in principle, would follow. That FFW would read as Project MJ223B and so on, FFW-ed. The governor of the central bank of wherever it was in the world knew that he had got Midland on side. That was almost like the traditional handshake.
... I dealt with the more difficult countries because I was not important enough to deal with the easy countries. I was asked to help Bhutan. Bhutan wanted a new aircraft. As our esteemed customer was Hawker Siddeley, where the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, worked, I suggested that it should have an HS125. When I put forward the proposal to the credit committee, I was asked whether we had been to Bhutan. We had not, but by chance, the night before I had met the Queen of Bhutan in Fulham and helped to push-start her MG. So I said, “I have met the Queen of Bhutan”. The committee said, “Hmm. Perhaps. FFW-ed”, and Bhutan got the plane. [Hansard]