I read the bull argument for a share. Irrefutable. You share your unshakeable conviction with a fund manager and feel the investment case you have made leads inexorably towards a large discretionary buy order. Without hesitation, he raises the bear contention, insuperable and inescapable objections against which only a fool would argue. No transaction takes place.
From a revenue standpoint, you are where you started and no worse off, but you feel reduced in his estimations. You feel like your personal stock is lower. You resolve never to suggest anything to him in the future, and, what’s more, you have proven beyond doubt you have no mind of your own. Instead, like a cushion, you merely bear the imprint, perhaps the scent, of the last person to sit on you.
Maybe this is why I put a line through another couple of names on the Post-it sticker which functions as a client list this week, leaving me with a customer base now numbering single digits. Among those, there will be several who have no awareness of their presence on the roll call of dishonour, several who resent their presence, and the remainder who look short-dated on the current trajectory.
Shorn of clientele worthy of the name, it is no surprise I am finding it increasingly difficult to occupy the
Time spools out slowly,
In the neo-totalitarianism of the City, every instance of individual expression, even the most anodyne, somehow finds itself in conflict with the system. The mere act of coming and going can seem like a declaration of independence. Your browsing history is reviewed, every conversation recorded, open microphones stand watch above some trading floors, the overly loud joke that could be misinterpreted, the lingering gaze held unintentionally for longer than it should be on passing cleavage, the careless, laddish comment in the chat window, a reluctance to participate in corporate cheerleading… all this builds up a pattern of dangerous non-compliance, subversion and counter-revolutionary behaviour, which will need to be eliminated. People underestimated the importance of boredom in the totalitarian state but it was useful in the drawing out and the isolation of individuals who were refusing to toe the line. Autonomous instincts become apparent when everybody is doing nothing.
Why is it then, the moment I burst out the revolving doors like a schoolboy on the last day of term,
On a more prosaic level, (Gentle Reader, compared to the highpoint, everything is prosaic) the quick pint after work is exactly what you and your mates on the desk intended when someone suggested it randomly at the close. But you look at your watch, erm, well, OK, four pints in that you haven’t drunk so much as inhaled, and you realise you will be back at the desk in 10 hours and you’ve got to get home and back, walk the dog and you haven’t even thought about eating. When you have been working in this industry for a long time, it feels as though the following morning starts the night before. The minute I arrive home I’m usually thinking about getting up again although occasionally, I confess, that’s because I’m getting home at three in the morning.
King Lear had it the wrong way round: if he’d been a contemporary stockbroker rather than a Shakespearean tragic hero (trust me, they aren’t mutually exclusive) then he would have surely agreed that “men must endure their coming hence even as their going thither”. If you stand on Waterloo Bridge and watch the river go by, you will see (sadly not the bodies of your enemies floating past, but that would be nice) that the water coming towards you travels more slowly than that which has gone past.
I must go. I’ve got to be up with the larks in the morning. Probably before them.