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Not cheap and cheerful if it’s just cheap

I know desperate times call for desperate measures, but one can only go so far in dumbing down one’s standards.

A friend who works at a Swiss private bank invited me to tea at his office the other day and I , craving a chance to get away from my whisky swilling crowd at the Captain’s Bar, gladly obliged.

I even made sure to be sharply suited, so as not to be out of place with the furniture and Monets on the wall. Clearly, I forgot that banks are cutting costs like it is going out of fashion.

Upon arriving, my friend asked what I wanted to drink, and knowing I would be served tea in the finest china, as befitting his hallowed organisation, I put in an order for Earl Grey.

But being Swiss doesn’t count for much these days, it seems. They had the gall to bring me cheap supermarket grade tea, and didn’t even bother to remove the tag bearing the brand, which would have been a mark of shame at a more tactful institution. To top it off, the china was not fine but looked like a bulk buy from Taobao.

I protested this indignity. How could a Swiss bank, synonymous since time immemorial with luxury, serve such dross to its guests?

The only thing my friend could do was shrug his shoulders. “At this rate, I’m lucky to have a job here,” he said resignedly.

Alas, old money was no match for modern banking regulation. Nonetheless, I decided to give my chum some consolidation.

“Why don’t you come over for tea at my place instead?” I offered. “We, at least, still have fine china.”