Expensive London

The London Paper  –  12 Mar 2007

It’s a sick and twisted world we live in, of that there can be no doubt. It’s also a very expensive one, if you happen to live in London. I had an experience with clients last week that revealed to me just how pricey things have become in this God-forsaken city and made me wonder how the hell ordinary ‘civilians’ have the cash to go out of an evening without first selling their sisters into the white slave trade.

Last Friday I took four very important clients out for a good old-fashioned knees-up. I had applied to the head of research for a £700 entertainment allowance knowing that it would be a miracle if we didn’t breach a grand which he could just about cope with. The evening started with cocktails at a private members club in Piccadilly. It was a shame Carol Vordeman wasn’t part of our group because the bill quickly became scary and difficult to calculate. Five of us had four cocktails each at around £13 a pop – almost £300 with tip and the evening had barely began…

We then went off to eat at the Wolseley. Somehow whilst we talked at each other about how great/well-hung/rich/sexually attractive we each were we managed to stack up a bill of just over £500 for a meal that was basically a bit like school dinner. Admittedly, most of the spend was on the wine because I had made the schoolboy error of allowing the hedge fund manager amongst us choose the booze. At this point two clients split off to gamble in a nearby casino (where, on average, they lost £600 each) whilst my team went to Pangaea, a nearby posh night club.

The long queue outside seemed foreboding for three unaccompanied men but my hedge fund pal simply marched to the front and asked the bouncer how much a table cost. The £500 response almost made me projectile vomit my recently consumed fish and chips but clearly presented no challenge to my pal. Once seated with two bottles of vodka in front of us we found ourselves immediately surrounded by a swarm of young East European ladies. I shall refrain from saying how the night progressed in order to protect the innocent … as well as my clients and I.

A survey by the Economist published last Monday revealed that London is now the fourth most expensive city in the world. After last Friday’s frolics I can’t believe that any city is above us (and to find out Oslo took 1st place definitely confuses me – mackerel fishing must be damn lucrative). It is mainly City bonuses that are pushing up the cost of living here and when a senior stockbroker like me finds things pricey you know the world really has gone mad. Such is my disgust that I’m now seriously considering going to live in the cheapest city in the world … although Tehran may have its drawbacks it can’t be as appalling as a £2500 night in Piccadilly.

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