4am: Eyes open. Uhtceare hovers over me like a toxic miasma; a melancholy so dark an owl could not hunt. Propose to self a coping strategy for the day which is then approved by internal management. No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy, though, and the enemy in this instance is life itself.
4.59am: Fall back into a deep sleep.
5am: Alarm. The soothing soprano notes of a prepubescent choirboy fills the room with 'Miserere mei, Deus'. Until this week, I was roused daily by Bill Wither’s prediction of a 'Lovely Day' but since his forecasts for my emotional weather proved so inaccurate and inflated me with false optimism I swapped him for Allegri.
5.01am: Unable to think of a convincing motivation to get up I hit the snooze button and resolve this will not be a day for antejentacular exercise.
5.10am: Repeat and resolve never to attend late night showings of long and depressing French arthouse films midweek ever again.
5.19: Repeat and make additional resolution not to drink bottle of Madeira during the above either.
5.30: Collect the faecal deposits left in the garden by Pablo the Husky Puppy. This is by no means the worst part of most days.
5.45: Finally leave house having scraped together last night’s congealed leftovers for packed lunch and packed in Tupperware box for which the lid seems ill-fitting.
5.49: Break into sprint to avoid missing 5.50 bus.
5.54: No.65 bus arrives.
5.56: Discover contents of packed lunch unevenly distributed inside rucksack. A protracted and laborious cleaning process will eventuate.
6.04: Eastbound district line Richmond to Upminster departs.
6.05: No.65 bus arrives Richmond station.
6.06: Othello cameo on platform 6. Roast me in steep-down gulfs of liquid fire.
6.07: King Lear cameo on platform 2. Blow winds, crack your cheeks! Rage! Blow!
6.19: Stopping overland service Richmond to Waterloo calls, living up to reputation by stopping at every lamppost in between. Journey mostly occupied with separating mashed Singapore noodles from diary, novel, pencil case, keybunch and headphones. All email inboxes scoured obsessively for the billet d’amour which never comes.
6.49: Arrive Waterloo. Rent Boris bike.
6.50: Crossing Waterloo Bridge suddenly discover knees above head as have hired defective bike on which saddle will not stay attached to seatpost.
6.55: Swap Boris Bike at Aldwych docking station, the third I have tried in my vespertilian cycling position, looking for a replacement.
7.00: Everyone is seated at their desks at Salvation Bank, the morning research call begins and it’s all systems go.
7.02: I arrive.
7.05: I make the first of what will be several visits to the sounding-out room which is located just off the trading floor, contains a comfortable armchair and lights which can be turned off and, most importantly, is rarely used, especially in August when there are no deals to be wall-crossed. On Wednesday, I don’t know who was more shocked, me or the head of equities, when he walked in, presumably with an important matter of state to discuss on the phone in a discreet setting, only to find me sitting in the Stygian darkness with a coffee and the look of a bookmaker who’s just seen the favourite romp home in the last race on the card. By way of explanation, I told him I was waiting for a call without specifying when and from whom. It is the longest interaction we have had since I joined and I can see from his expression he finds it troubling and unsatisfactory.
7.30: Return to desk to check if there have been any favourable developments, serendipitous incoming, acts of philanthropy etc.
7.31: Back in the "zoning-out room" for one of my regular powwows with the spirit world.
8.00: Whoosh. The market opens.
8.05: I retake my seat on the so-called ‘trading desk’, no pun intended.
8.06: I compile a To Do list for the day to which I append Collect Dry Cleaning and Keep Breathing for padding and to give myself some achievable goals.
8.09: Shergar seen galloping across the dealing floor with Elvis Presley as jockey.
8.10: A client sends me a Large Unsolicited Discretionary Order. I used the indefinite article there, ‘a client’ but several months back I wrote how my account base could all share the same taxi and now they could share the same wheelchair because he is the client, definite article. The spirits, while not soaring, are certainly getting up off all fours. The cowherd in the Atacama Desert feels some raindrops pattering on his upturned face.
9.00: I tell other members of my coffee syndicate that even though, strictly speaking, it is my turn to fork out a tenner for a quartet of pretentious lattes, it would be imprudent, bordering on the reckless to leave my trading station unattended while a decent ticket occupies it. There are mutinous whisperings. I get my coffee but swap it with someone else’s just in case.
9.10: I’m back in the 'zoning-out room' as August volumes, a malevolent deity and colleagues demonstrating an apathy towards my business which matches mine for theirs conspire to render my block illiquid and almost untradable. If I can find the other side to this block, I can generate more commission in one day than I have since May. The only problem is I can’t find my reproductive organs in the dark let alone a counterparty willing to accommodate me and my order flow and I am dependent on help from the desk and the kindness of strangers. Of the latter, there has been little that was tangible in this life.
I simply cannot bear the frustration but my heart is still beating so perhaps I can.
9.55: The silence of my grotto is disturbed by my mobile ringing. The tiny hope node which still hides out in the deepest recesses of my heart, like a Japanese WWII soldier on some Pacific atoll who has not yet surrendered, registers a small electrical impulse. The heart’s memory eliminates the bad and magnifies the good and it is only through this artifice that we are able to bear the burden of past experience.
It’s the desk looking for me. The hope node retreats deeper.
9.56: The US office has someone interested in my offer. I’ve seen this movie before though. Usually, the other side feigns an interest, sizes up your order and then trashes the stock in your face. It’s like being on Tinder if you’re ugly.
9.58: Lord Lucan seen piloting MH17 in Cheapside fly-past.
9.59: We are matched on the block and just need to agree a price. There is no one more surprised than me apart from all the people with whom I work. Me putting up a big print? They’ve never seen anything like it. (I’ve never done anything like it.)
10.00: The fire alarm sounds. I think it’s a very droll acknowledgement of just how unusual is this circumstance but no, it really is the alarm. It is a drill of which we were warned in advance and here’s a shouty man in a high-visibility jacket ordering everyone off the floor immediately unless, of course, you are considered ‘key staff’ and have been given prior clearance to remain. I am many things, mostly unprintable, but I am definitely not key and I may not even be staff much longer.
There’s a zero-tolerance approach to protesters and perceived malingerers and I am hustled out, arguing all the way. “Do you know who I am?” They didn’t. You don’t. Or you not supposed to, anyway. I don’t either.
10.01: The cross went up. I wasn’t there to see it but the crisis is relieved momentarily. That crisis at least.