Business Or Pleasure

The London Paper  –  4 June 2007

The world has changed. In the good old days the summer ‘season’ for City types began with the indescribably tedious Chelsea Flower Show and proceeded with equally dreary events like Royal Ascot and the Henley Regatta. But nowadays, toffs and City cats alike, want to give it large like the rest of our decadent society. Hence, you’ll now see these characters quaffing champers in their yurts at Glastonbury, and roaming around the V festival and Bestival wearing green wellies and Barbours they’ve borrowed off daddy. Indeed, half my clients seem to be talking about their corporate back stage tickets to Glasto. Whilst it may seem hypocritical that a broker like me begrudges my fellow Cityboys’ wish to party, I’ve been sneaking off to these kind of events for years – simply to let loose the juice without worrying about bumping into clients.

Take last Saturday for example. There I was, dancing like the bastard son of Michael Jackson and Prince at a posh 24 hour fancy dress party held in the grounds of a friend’s stately home called Stanley Hall. According to the Daily Mail, and they’ve really got their finger on the pulse so it must be true, this party represented the start of the alternative summer season. On the way to have a slash I had the horror of bumping into a rather important hedge fund client of mine furtively exiting the toilets with a suspicious sprinkling of white powder under his hooter. Although he sensed my disapproval I still got stuck in an appalling conversation with him. I think I can safely say that this world has witnessed few things more ridiculous than an Egyptian Pharaoh discussing the impact of rising interest rates with a Russian Cossack outside a portaloo, with fireworks in the sky and loud techno in the background. Despite the dull subject matter he was, for some strange reason, extremely enthusiastic. It took me 20 precious partying minutes to get away from the buffoon.

As if that preposterous encounter wasn’t enough to put me off my boogie I then knocked into another client, dressed as Julius Caesar, on the dance floor. Within seconds I was reminded of the other problem with bumping into clients at these events. Instead of treating me like a fellow party goer, I was immediately treated as his broker i.e his slave (which was quite appropriate considering his costume). So, just as if we’d been sitting in the Coq D’Argent, he demanded I get him a drink. I smiled sweetly, said I’d be back in a minute, and ran into the night – no client relationship is worth screwing up my Saturday night for.

I’ll tell you something for nothing: I’m off to Glastonbury in three weeks and this time if I’m unlucky enough to bump into a client amongst those 150,000 revellers and he treats me like a tosser or tries to talk shop I’ll swing for him. You’ve got to get your priorities right in this short, brutish life and, call me old-fashioned, but throwing shapes to the ear-bleeding dirge of Joey Beltram is always going to win out over business.

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