The London Paper – 10 Mar 2008
So there I was at a Michelin-starred restaurant having a chin-wag with some of the lads over a few bottles of shampoo when the conversation suddenly careered into the tricky subject of ‘the trickle down theory’. A couple of the younger guys had recently received their bonuses and were complaining that they were only around 2PM (e.g. twice the Prime Minister’s salary of £190K). In a fit of false magnanimity that Radio DJs Smashie and Nicey would deem excessive, these jokers seemed to be suggesting that their key concern was that such poor bonuses would ultimately mean that London suffers as we Cityboys reign in our spending and local businesses see their custom deteriorate. I’ve heard some nonsense in my time but this really takes the biscuit.
The main businesses that will suffer as a result of my peers’ bonuses being perhaps £400K rather than £500K are not the lovely traditional shops that hard-working locals have struggled to make prosper. Oh no. It’s gonna be those hideous clubs like Mahiki and Chinawhites that sell £100 cocktails to Cityboys, Russian oligarchs and oil-rich Arabs that may lose a little custom (not exactly a tragedy). Flash restaurants like Petrus may notice that their top-of-the-range £30,000 bottles of wine are not purchased quite so regularly. Strippers at Stringfellow’s may find that their G strings are packed with tenners rather than twenty quid notes. Ferrari dealers may discover a few less Testarossas are sold over the next year or two, as may agents selling Tuscan villas. It’s not going to be the end of the world for the average Joe.
Indeed, lower bonuses may have some positive effects on London. For example, property prices are likely to decline somewhat as Cityboys stop investing some of their outrageously large bonuses in buy-to-let properties in places like Wandsworth or Fulham. If this happens there’s a small chance that couples comprising people like nurses and teachers may, if they scrimp and save for about ten years, be able to afford to buy a bed-sit in Hackney! Musn’t grumble then, eh?
Admittedly, the City is one of the few industries that this God-forsaken little island has left but exaggerating how the general populace benefits from our massive bonuses is yet another ruse to prevent Government making things more equitable through higher taxes or tighter regulation. So, as Public Enemy told us all those years ago we shouldn’t believe the hype.
Slurring my words a little due to one too many sherberts I explained my somewhat radical viewpoint to my fellow Cityboys. As usual I found myself in a minority of one and things got a little heated. I soon made my excuses and left but not before explaining my own ‘trickle-down theory’ to one particularly obnoxious young character. My theory went something like this: if you keep talking such crap I’ll probably give you a punch on the hooter and then theoretically claret should trickle down on to your chin.
I think I’m losing it.