George Mordaunt went from a successful business owner to being threatened by his bank and contemplating suicide. In his new book he explains that it was only anger and the thought of his two children growing up alone that stopped him killing himself.
His memoir, “Shepherd’s Pie”,a surprise best seller in Ireland describes how he went from owning four car dealerships in Clonmel, Tipperary, to sitting on his son’s bed one night picturing his children walking behind his hearse.
Mordaunt said during “The Celtic Tiger” or boom years he would sell 40 cars per week and would give potential buyers free helicopter rides. However after 2008 his company collapsed.
In 2009 he came home one evening and saw his children eating Sheppard’s pie (where he got the book’s name). It was then he realized these children were entirely dependent on him.
When he was finally called into the bank he described how they said “Save the sob story. We want our money. If that means taking your family home, we’ll do it.”
He said “I was stunned. Couldn’t believe what I was hearing. This banker, playing with words, puffing his chest out in a display of ego and bravado, telling me how ruthless he would be with my home, my livelihood, my life.”
His book gives a gut-wrenching account of a man gripped with fear, for himself and his family. Unable to sleep he paces his house and eventually settled in his eight-year-old son’s room.
He wrote “I gazed down at him and thought about another man, my age, who I had known very well. His kids were the same age as mine and he had lost his battle with control and fear one evening.”
Thankfully what Mordaunt felt next was anger. He explained “I sat on the side of my son’s bed and imagined my own funeral, with my son and my daughter walking behind a hearse. I wondered whether I was losing my mind but knew I wasn’t. I allowed the pain of the image to take hold and then something I wasn’t expecting happened.”
He asked himself “Are you going to let those f**kers deprive these children of their father? Are you going to allow them to attack your family and everything that your family has created? Are you going to let them inside the gates of your home or are you going to meet them head on and tell them to f**k off?”
The next morning empowered with a new-found rage he called the bank and said “Listen to me very carefully. I refuse to let you or any other bank force my wife and children to walk behind a hearse, so do your worst but don’t ever call me again.”
And he said miraculously the bank seemed to backoff and he began to recover mentally and financially.
The introduction to the book comes from the Chief Executive of Barnardos, Fergus Finlay. He describes it as “the most searingly honest account I’ve read anywhere about what it was like to ride the Tiger – and ultimately to be almost devoured by it…one of the best books you’re ever likely to read about what went wrong in our country and why.”
He adds that the book also illustrates a snapshot of the Irish people and “how to come out of it all as a better, stronger person”.
Conor Pope in the Irish Times describes the story as “little short of riveting and may act as an inspiration to thousands of people and small businesses who feel they have run out of options because of the levels of debt they have built up.”
Speaking to the Irish Times Mordaunt said that already he has been overwhelmed by the response from readers. He said that many who made contact with him had also considered suicide. He also described how the devastating effect this recession has had on small businesses and how their stories have been under- reported.
The former car sales man is now embarking on a campaign along with his no-nonsense philosophy to dealing with banks and managing debt. He insists that although banks deny it debt forgiveness is a reality.
He explained “If you’re meeting your repayments but it is destroying every other aspect of your life then you have to stop, but you can’t just stop: you have to demonstrate that you can’t pay…the business people of Ireland have been treating the bankers with the same respect their parents gave the clergy in the 1950s. We need to play more hardball with them.
“And the bankers need to be conscious of the mental state of the people they are dealing with. Some of the individuals going in will not have eaten in days, won’t have slept and will be incredibly scared. That makes them very vulnerable.”
Mordaunt has now set himself up in a new company, wesourceNEcar.com and focuses on finding second-hand cars.
Now he wants to help others to recover.
He said “I have recovered. I was able to get fresh money. I sorted my head out and I parked my debt. Who wouldn’t recover in those circumstances?”
Here’s a video by George Mordaunt: