The London Paper – 14 May 2007
I absolutely adore babies. But I couldn’t eat a whole one. Still, even with my somewhat equivocal feelings towards the little blighters I can’t help feeling that bringing one into an investment bank is about as appropriate as bringing a new-born lamb into a blood-strewn abattoir. To show something that pure and innocent a place of such depravity and corruption just feels wrong on so many levels.
So last week when a colleague who’d been on maternity leave for almost nine months waltzed into my huge open plan office to show off her new-born I observed the situation with detached bemusement. Now, I had always felt that this lady was, not just mad but, as they say, ‘one stop past Dagenham’ (e.g. Barking). Hence, in my admittedly cynical perception, she was merely bringing this sprog in to prove that she hadn’t just spent the last nine months locked up in a padded cell.
Anyway, as all the secretaries surrounded the infant and began cooing like demented chickens I scrutinized the body language of some of my older female colleagues. Was it my imagination, or did I notice a hint of sadness in their eyes? Did seeing the little fellah make them query whether they had made the right decision in following a high-powered career rather than breeding? It was either that or the critter had done something unpleasant in his nappy.
Suddenly, horror of horrors, this gaggle of clucking females approached my desk and, before I could do anything, the baby was thrust into my arms. I suddenly felt weak – like Superman after he’d just had some Kryptonite forced on him. As I looked into the tiny chap’s lovely little eyes I felt my aggressive arrogance, so necessary for my job, seeping out. There and then, I felt like giving up work and using all my ill-gotton gains to set up a yoga commune in Wales – well, for about five nanoseconds anyway. In reality, I quickly handed back the infant as if it had just contracted a virulent strain of Ebola, went into the toilets and splashed water on my face. I mean, how was I supposed to spend the afternoon shafting my competitors with that little boy’s lovely face still fresh in my memory?
Babies in City offices feel about as out of place as George Bush at a Mensa meeting or Liz Hurley at the Oscars. All that bringing one into the office achieves is to make my childless female colleagues question their career choice and make me lose my ‘lust to win’. I mean, how am I supposed to do my pointless job enthusiastically if selfish nutters insist on reminding me what actually brings meaning and fulfilment to life?