The London Paper – 21 May 2007
Last Thursday, Brad Pitt looked me straight in the eye and said “we spend all our lives working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need”. Now, whilst I’d like to pretend that he proffered this pearl of wisdom over a couple of sherberts at the Groucho that wouldn’t be 100% true. In reality, it was Brad’s character Tyler Durden who voiced this opinion to me and a few Cityboy friends whilst we were watching the DVD of ‘Fight Club’ chez moi.
Anyway, this great line sparked an unusually open discussion amongst my broker pals. It soon became apparent that we had all gone into the City intending to work for no more than ten years, make our millions and then leave to go and ‘start living’. Of course, we had all breached our deadlines and were still not finding days spent ripping off pensioners and exchanging high fives especially fulfilling.
Funnily enough, it appears that we’re not alone. A survey by the Future Foundation published last week revealed that two thirds of British workers were ‘unfulfilled’, ‘miserable’ or ‘drifting’ in their jobs. So the question is raised: WHY THE HELL IS EVERYONE PUTTING UP WITH THIS TEDIOUS NONSENSE?
Now, the conventional answer for most people is that they work in order to earn the cash that they need to live but that just doesn’t cut the mustard with a Cityboy who’s been remotely successful for ten years or more (unless he’s had a major penchant for fast women, slow horses or the devil’s dandruff). All of us around mine last Thursday could, with a little bit of wise investment, retire and live reasonably well for the rest of our lives. So we, more than anyone, have to ask ourselves why we still put up with the stress and long hours inherent in our jobs.
The only reason we stay in the City is because our jobs are so lucrative that you need balls like water melons to have the courage to leave. Because we Cityboys generally ain’t trained to do anything useful and ain’t prepared to work in an office earning a pittance we’re in a dreadful trap. Sometimes it feels that the only real alternative to a City job is to sit on my fat arse squeezing blackheads watching the world spin round – but when you have an active brain therein lies madness.
I think the Verve may have summed things up best when they sang ‘it’s a bitter sweet symphony this life, trying to make ends meet, you’re a slave to the money then you die’. Non-materialistic, childless, experienced Cityboys like me are not slaves to the money, we’re slaves to something even worse: a gutless fear of pursuing the ‘path less trodden’. But I swear one day I’ll be chilling at a yoga retreat in the Himalayas thanking Brad Pitt for showing me the way … but just not this year.