The London Paper – 30 Apr 2007
“Parting is such sweet sorrow”. My arse. When it comes to certain colleagues who leave my bank for pastures new, it’s all ‘sweet’ and no ‘sorrow’. Last week a deeply unpopular character announced his resignation and, as is the City tradition, was obliged to invite the whole department for drinks after work and pay for them all himself. Now this particular chap has all the charm of a psychopathic crack-head and, under normal circumstances, I would prefer to watch snuff movies on acid with my gran rather than spend any time with him. However, the opportunity to make this notoriously tight individual reach into his pocket to buy drinks for us all was too amusing a prospect to resist. He had also made the school-boy error of arranging the drinks for a Thursday – the traditional day for boozing in the City. This meant that even though he’s about as popular as a dose of the clap, his wallet was going to take a real battering from cheapskates, who hardly knew this comedian, seeking out free drinks.
This leaving-do took place at the Corney and Barrow underneath the Lloyd’s Building and involved about 40 of the leaver’s ‘work-mates’. As always, this event revealed various humorous dynamics. Firstly, because there have been quite a few departures from our bank recently those of us who remain have been wondering whether the ‘rats are leaving a sinking ship’. Hence, we ‘lucky few’ still at the bank got into nervous conversations with each-other trying to subtly ascertain whether anyone else was going to bugger off. No-one wants to be the last man standing in a failing bank as the prospect of re-employment is akin to Jeffrey Archer’s chance of winning the Booker prize.
The other amusing spectacle is the false bonhomie that is exhibited to the leaver. Whilst everyone was sipping their white wine and pretending to laugh at his piss-poor gags all we really wanted to know was 1) How long was the lucky bastard’s ‘gardening leave’ (e.g. his obligatory time off between banks) and 2) What package he had received at the new bank (e.g. salary and guaranteed bonus). Discretion means that information on the new salary is rarely forthcoming. Indeed, all that generally happens is it that the leaver tries his best to subtly incite his former colleagues’ jealousy. Last week he did this by talking about his upcoming break in the Caribbean and the flash motor he’s about to buy. My response to this bragging was simply to order several bottles of champers whilst he was in the bogs.
We all rolled out of Corney’s at about 11pm with most of us stumbling around like zombies on Ketamine. Through a super human effort I just about managed to make it to Bank tube station despite feeling like I’d been on a four day bender with Amy Winehouse and Boris Yeltsin (RIP). Still, on the way home, my fellow tube passengers may have noticed a rye smile on my near-catatonic face. That’s because, although this joker had three months holiday and a nice new job to look forward to, all I could think about was the look of horror on his face as he re-examined the £1000 bar bill for the fifth time and wondered which tosser had ordered all the champagne.