Andrew Denbury is called into his bank for an interview about the overdraft of his company, Gyroflow Limited. The ‘heavies’ from London Office are down and they threaten him with receivership if he doesn’t repay the overdraft of more than two hundred thousand pounds within twenty-four hours.
Shell-shocked, he asks his wife Angela to agree to his raising a huge mortgage on the family home to clear the bank and provide the company with working capital. Angela is self-centred and spoilt but she will agree to anything to save the house from being forcibly sold by the bank. However, to win himself time, Andrew needs to get a short-term guarantee from her rich father while the mortgage is being arranged. She agrees to help.
Back in the office, Andrew is offered sympathy by his secretary, Samantha Barlow, which he feels a sudden urge to accept. He rings British Gears, his main supplier, to obtain support and puts the wheels in motion to take out the mortgage and to get legal representation.
That evening Andrew and Angela go to dinner with her father, Geoffrey Smithson, to ask for his help. However, after Angela has left, Andrew and Smithson have a row. His father-in-law has never forgiven Andrew for leaving his company and setting up on his own. He did not approve of the marriage. Now he says he will do everything necessary to ensure that Angela will not lose the house which she loves, but he will not raise a finger to help Andrew save the company. Finally he orders him from the house.
Andrew has to walk home through the stormy night. As he passes through the nearby village he passes Samantha’s house. His clothes are saturated and he takes shelter with her. He responds to her care and kindness and they end up by making love.
First thing next morning he is at the office of Alan Tomlinson, an insolvency lawyer. They discuss his plans and Tomlinson explains some of the possible scenarios. They ring the bank and submit Andrew’s proposals for keeping the company trading. The reply is promised later that day.
At four-thirty the reply is brought by Simon Prisk. He carries a letter rejecting Andrew’s offer and appointing him receiver. On the phone, Tomlinson confirms that Andrew can do nothing but step aside and hand the business over to Prisk. He is required to leave and take no further part in Gyroflow’s activities. However Andrew plans an alternative way of acting.
He meets Charles Bonetti of British Gears for lunch next day. Andrew proposes to him that they should buy the machinery of Gyroflow (which they will be able to get cheaply) and he will run it for them as a salaried employee. When Charles puts this to his boss on the phone, the reply is unexpected. They have been informed that the receiver has already done a deal with another unknown party to sell all the assets, debtors included. Furthermore, the bank has bounced a number of cheques, which were ostensibly the reason why Andrew was in trouble in the first place. These actions will make Andrew’s reputation stink with all his business contacts.
Furious, Andrew returns to confront Prisk, who will tell him nothing about the proposed sale. He tells him that such matters will be aired at the Creditor’s meeting, called for the following week. Andrew will be required to be there. He calls in to see Sam, who he has persuaded to work for Prisk. She tells him that Peter Cruikshank, the landlord of the factory, wants to speak to him.
He goes to meet Cruikshank who informs him that Prisk has disclaimed the lease on the factory. He reminds Andrew that he is personal guarantor for the lease and that he could be liable for twenty-three years rent, interest and other costs – possibly one and a half million in total. He says he wants an interim payment, but will otherwise be satisfied with a charge on Andrew’s valuable house. He will then wait for Geoffrey Smithson to die, assuming Andrew will inherit from him through Angela. The alternative is long-term personal bankruptcy.
The way that everybody is ganging up on him makes Andrew furiously determined to fight all of them. Meeting Alan Tomlinson, he sets in hand arrangements to sell his part of the jointly-owned house to Angela. Then, if he is made bankrupt, there will be a limit to the amount his creditors will get out of him. Tomlinson agrees it can be done if Angela pays a proper valuation for the place.
Andrew puts this to Angela, suggesting that she borrow the money from her father, who ought to be delighted at an opportunity to help her take over the property. She rings her father and arranges to see him.
At the meeting of creditors Andrew is given a rough ride by some of the people who have lost money over the receivership. There are suggestions that he was incompetent and had over-stated the company’s assets. It is also suggested that his father-in-law is behind the buyout of the company with the object of helping Andrew to avoid paying his creditors.
Andrew meets Sam, who seems to be the only person who is interested in trying to help him. He tells her of the way he is being harassed by creditors, and also of his plans for outwitting Cruikshank. She tells him of some of the things which have happened at the factory since he left.
The agreement to sell his half of the house to Angela has been drawn up by Alan Tomlinson and they go to his office to sign the documents. Smithson is also there. It transpires that he is buying Andrew’s half direct – not loaning the money to Angela. Andrew is suspicious, but is encouraged by the fact that he is to receive more money, since Smithson is not in as advantageous a legal position as Angela would have been.
There is another meeting with the landlord when Andrew tells him that he has sold his half of the house and makes him a final offer. Cruikshank is infuriated and threatens to pursue Andrew for everything he has and to keep him bankrupt for many years. Andrew says he will leave the offer open for only seven days.
When he returns home Angela tells him that, now her father is half-owner of the house, he has decided to sell up his own massive old house and estate and convert one of the barns at Angela’s and move in as a near neighbour. Andrew says that he couldn’t live cheek by jowl with Smithson. However Angela says he has no choice because it is Smithson’s decision and he wants to get something out of his investment.
Andrew decides that he can no longer keep living with Angela. Their marriage has been unsatisfactory for a long time and recent experiences have exposed how unsuitable they are for each other. He tells Sam he will go abroad until the situation has been resolved with Cruikshank. He asks her to act as his agent, having discharged Tomlinson for legal reasons.
He flies to Jersey and opens a bank account with the money he has received from Smithson, so as to have greater security. Having cleared the cheque and received a debit card, he crosses to France, buys a cheap car and sets out to tour the continent.
During the next three months he sends back a series of letters to Cruikshank. Each one reduces the amount of his offer for settlement so as to increase the pressure on the landlord. He keeps in touch with progress at home by regular contact with Sam. She tells him that there are important developments she should discuss with him.
He meets her at Athens airport. She tells him that Cruikshank has indicated that he will accept a figure only twenty thousand more than Andrew’s latest offer. The company which has bought out Gyroflow is still operating from the old factory and using all the old equipment. They have just picked up a major contract to supply several hundred of the new valves. More orders are expected. Both Smithson and Cruikshank are regular visitors to the new manager. More important still, Cruikshank’s wife has cited Angela in a divorce petition against her husband. Cruikshank has indicated that he will accept a figure only twenty thousand more than Andrew’s latest offer.
They fly from Athens to one of the Ionian Islands where Andrew has settled in lodgings. He takes her to a nearby cove where there is a ruined olive press beside the beach. He has agreed to buy it at a very reasonable price but he wants Sam to be the nominal owner in case he has problems from Cruikshank. They admit they have fallen in love and have an idyllic few days planning a future away from the rat-race.
On her return, Sam goes to see Tomlinson to draw up an agreement between Andrew and Cruikshank. Tomlinson has also been making enquiries of his own and believes Andrew may have a case against the receiver and the bank for conspiracy. The bank especially had a duty of care to Andrew and his wife as guarantors of the overdraft figure. He wants permission to obtain counsel’s opinion to back up his own views. Sam confirms she will check with Andrew.
The agreement having been signed by Cruikshank, Andrew returns to sign on his own behalf. He agrees with Angela that they will divorce. Tomlinson tells him he has been able to verify that Cruikshank and Smithson are shareholders through nominees of the new company. He suggests that they should be tied in to the conspiracy action.
An informal meeting is arranged with all the parties. The lawyers for the bank and the receivers is willing to reach a settlement to avoid publicity. Garnett and Prisk have already been sent packing for their personal part in the affair. However Cruikshank and particularly Smithson are willing to face it out. Smithson says that he will fight Andrew all the way and he doesn’t believe he has the money or the guts to go through with it. It appears they are at an impasse.
It is then that Andrew points out to them that he still owns the patents to the range of Gyroflow valves. Smithson had overlooked checking this in his haste to take over Andrew’s business. Tomlinson threatens them with an immediate injunction which would have the effect of cancelling the large new contract and destroying the new company’s prospects. Alternatively they can pay a substantial sum for breach of patent rights as part of the settlement terms. Faced with this the other side jointly agree to a negotiated figure. Finally Tomlinson obtains a royalty for Andrew on every valve assembly produced.
When he goes back to Sam’s house to tell her about his success she reveals that she has obtained a divorce from the husband who had deserted her some years before. She has also just sold her house. There is nothing stopping them returning to their happy future in Greece.