The London Paper  –  21 Jan 2008

‘Now is the winter of our discontent’ … of that, there can be absolutely no effing doubt. I’m just back from two and half fun-filled weeks in sunny Thailand and currently feel about as optimistic as a Spurs supporter on a drugs come-down. Everyone at the office seems highly stressed and we’ve got at least three months of hideous weather to look forward to. Also, because of the ongoing sub-prime crisis, it looks like Dawn French has got a higher chance of winning ‘rear of the year’ than stock markets have of a bullish twelve months and that means pony year-end bonuses seem likely to be the order of the day. But much, much worse than all that … I’ve once again decided to indulge in the despicable City tradition of having a ‘dry January’.

I don’t know which sick mofo invented the City custom of foregoing alcohol for January but he, and buffoons like me who torture ourselves by adhering to it, are clearly gluttons for punishment. Currently, around nine of my close colleagues are struggling to abstain from the devil’s urine but it ain’t easy. January has to be about the most dismal, gloomy time of year on our little island – what with its gruesome weather, its lack of parties and the numerous heavily indebted and depressed friends staying at home regretting their Christmas spending strategy. To exacerbate this soul-destroying scenario further by removing the crutch of alcohol seems like bravery over and above the call of duty. It’s like going to a Spice Girls concert without taking earplugs.

What’s even worse is that last year I gave up bothering to write research notes and composing financial models and instead focussed on taking clients out on the lash. Frankly, it seemed like a slightly more fun ‘corporate strategy’ as I enter the twilight of my career. So, by abstaining from going out on the piss I’m effectively removing my unique selling point … the only thing I bring to the party. Hell, if I can’t think of something to do soon I might even have to open a spreadsheet and do some real work.

The question then is, why do my colleagues and I put ourselves through this appalling nonsense year in year out? It is, of course, to try and give our poor livers a break from the almost incessant battering they take during the December boozing period. It’s also partly to prove to ourselves that we’re not alcoholics – though any two-bit psychologist worth his salt will tell you that, if anything, our sense of achievement at having successfully avoided booze for one whole month merely reveals what hopeless piss-heads we clearly all are. I’ll tell you one thing for nothing, after that sobering realisation, I need a f&*ing drink.

Thoughts ?

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