Thinking about this for a moment: where do white collar criminals fit in the criminal hierarchy when they are inside? All societies, no matter how primitive, like to arrange social strata so that there is at least one grouping below them and so while armed robbers and drug barons probably lord it over the nonces and sex offenders, where would they place people who rig Libor or swap insider information or invest in complex tax loopholes?
Are they somewhere in the middle or, if they read the tabloids or John McDonnell's manifesto, do they regard financial criminals as the worst of the worst and they have to be kept segregated for their own safety? An intuition tells me I may get to find out about that the hard way, especially if duff stock market recommendations suddenly become classified as white collar crime.
Anyway, back to my fresh start in the City… so the summer which at one point seemed to stretch endlessly before me has now been concertina'd into a fortnight of increasingly hectic schedules before the return to the tyranny of the alarm clock.
I know already when I look back over this five month period it will be with a sense of regret and unfulfilment. During the kind of break most of us spend huge swathes of time at our desk fantasising about, I have not achieved the following fairly straightforward objectives:
1. Write a novel.
2. Lose half a stone.
3. Travel the length of the Trans-Siberian railway.
4. Conduct several love affairs with laydeez wot lunch and recover from the last one.
5. Read Don Quixote and the other half of La Recherche du Temps Perdu.
Not to mind, I suspect were I to retire tomorrow and live to be a hundred then I might never accomplish these things. Well, let's look at another way then: what did I achieve?
1. I thoroughly rejigged my 'Top Ten W@nkers in The City' list, updating it to take into account new-found (and lifelong enemies) from Chaucer Securities.
2. Erm, that's about it.
3. Unless of course, one regards my no longer being in therapy to be a success, but that was largely because it was a) unproductive, there being no cure for a broken heart b) she kept telling me I was drinking too much whereas I thought I wasn't getting enough in and c) my health insurance was no longer valid.
My mate at Salvation Bank who eased my passage in there has very kindly arranged welcome drinks with new colleagues the Thursday before I start.
Naturally, he thinks he's doing me a favour but even naturally it has precipitated an existentialist crisis here. Will anyone turn up? If they do, will they be so few it's a humiliation? Or will dozens show up and thereby making me feel inadequate because there's no way I can entertain more than a couple?
I'm a man who goes on a date with a list of conversational topics attached to my inside pocket for when my chat flags. My conversation, once it's been sliced and diced, will not feed the five thousand.
I'm dreading this, especially because the unwritten rule of new hires on a trading floor, especially if they're something of an unknown element, is that they are an idiot until proven otherwise. It could take me forever to disabuse them of that notion, especially when competitive self-deprecation is my schtick.
How shall I proceed? Do I drink with my normal abandon? I have three responses to alcohol: amorous, belligerent and morose and sometimes it's a toxic combination of all three. I think this is a terrible idea but it's too late now.
The last welcome drinks I attended were those for the new head of sales-trading at Chaucer Securities a year ago. It was all very jovial, I gave him some sound advice, offered my friendship, my trust, my unflinching honesty. Six months later I was in surgery having the knife removed from between my shoulder blades where he had thrust it with a brazen contempt for me as a human being. "Nothing personal".
That's what they always say but Gentle Reader, in this life, everything, absolutely everything, even the weather, is personal. I may take a raincheck on the drinks next week.