The London Paper – 4 Feb 2008
It’s official … the world’s gone mad. Those crazy mothers at my bank told me my bonus last week and it was sick. It was totally unacceptable. It was massive. What is wrong with these people? Even if I’d just found a cure for cancer and managed to convince all this planet’s leaders to commit themselves to world peace for eternity it would have been a tad generous.
Everyone knows that when you get called into the little room and presented with ‘the letter’ by your boss that even if the amount of cash being handed over to you is so huge that it would embarrass an African dictator you have to act as if he’s just asked you to spend the next two weeks sticking rusty pins in your testicles. Otherwise he’ll assume you’re actually satisfied with the amount and ensure that next year’s bonus ain’t too clever. But even an experienced old trooper like myself found it difficult not to punch the air with unbridled glee, kiss the man square on the lips and dance a Irish jig all the way across the trading floor. All I did manage was a curt ‘thanks, that’s kind of what I was expecting’ but he didn’t have to be Sigmund Freud to work out that I thought it was Christmas come early. Frankly, I would hardly have been happier if Gisele Bundchen and Naomi Campbell had just sidled up to me in front of all my friends and requested my presence back at their hotel room ‘to discuss Ugandan politics’.
However, during the traditional post-bonus drinks that my colleagues and I engage in every ‘B-day’ I got something similar to post-coital depression. Despite the fact that several of my work-mates were clearly narked off with what they’d received and some even confessed to getting ‘a doughnut’ (e.g nothing) I felt a tad empty. I’m sure it sounds incredibly ungrateful and will probably incite numerous emails of unbridled hatred but after over ten years in this hideous business all this money nonsense becomes rather abstract.
I’ve also noticed no correlation with myself or other Cityboys between cash and happiness. I know this is an easy thing to say when you’ve got a fair amount but actually money is not just ‘the root of all evil’ but also an extremely weak foundation upon which to build your confidence and self-esteem. Unfortunately, that is what many people in the City do and hence their happiness tracks almost perfectly the annual vagaries of the stock market. Call me old fashioned but these characters are total and utter losers who need to realise that love, friendship and good health (and regular sex, of course) are all that matters in this sick and twisted world. I couldn’t help notice that the dude who won last week’s £19m super jackpot on the lottery said he’d give it all up to have better health. Damn right – what’s the use of having loads of wonga if you’re too weak to carry it and no friends to share it with?