The London Paper – 11 June 2007
Apparently Yanks dismiss cricket as ‘baseball on Valium’. With such talk they’re simply wasting my time. Although I’m loathe to declare that I share a passion with the likes of John Major I defy anyone to spend a sunny Friday afternoon at Lords watching thirteen men ambling around pretending to play a ‘sport’ and not think that life is simply a wonderful thing. It makes me feel proud to be a member of a nation that is so freaked-out by sex that we have to invent games that last for five days so that we don’t actually have to indulge in it.
Anyway a few weeks ago, for once in my God-forsaken life, it was not me entertaining clients but rather me being ‘entertained’ by a company whose shares I analyse. At around midday I left a bunch of envious colleagues hunched over their spreadsheets and, wearing a preposterous cream jacket and thick purple cords, got a sherbet to Lords. Little did I know that I would have a learning experience that would educate me regarding the myriad absurdities of my client base.
As I entered the private box and saw the lobster, roast beef and champagne laid out awaiting me I thought it was Christmas, my birthday and the Chinese new year all rolled into one. The next six hours were going to be an exercise in excessive self-indulgence and although I intended to occasionally look up and check out the cricket that was really the least of my concerns.
Within about two hours I was swaying around like some kind of happy-go-lucky Hawaiian hula dancer. However, it was at about this stage that I noticed something rather nasty happening to my personality. Before long I was slouched in my chair with my legs resting on the seat in front of me like some sultan chilling in his harem. I started asking the hosts to get me drinks in an overly forceful way. I began only half-listening to their tedious nonsense and talking over them. I suddenly realised that the arse-kissing I was receiving by a company that hoped I would turn more positive on its shares was turning me into a total tosser.
It was about then that I thought about some of my clients and their tendency to treat me and my fellow brokers with an arrogance that it usually requires hundreds of years of inbreeding and public schools to cultivate. It suddenly became clear to me that it was wrong to despise these clients. I came the same conclusion that the neo-feminist Camilla Paglia reached after injecting herself with the same amount of testosterone that we men have flowing in our veins and found herself wanting to shag everything that moves: ‘I forgive them, for they know not what they do’.
The French philosophers say ‘to understand is to excuse’. Whilst treating each-other with contempt is simply not cricket you try having a bunch of desperate analysts kiss your derriere day in day out without developing an ego that Puff Daddy would be proud of. Hence, we must be patient with these buffoons. Although having said that, if a person has a genuine lack of self-awareness I have found a punch to the kidneys quickly brings about a degree of enlightenment.