The London Paper – 15 Aug 2008
‘Rascals are always sociable … the chief sign that a man has any nobility in his character is the little pleasure he takes in others’ company’ – so said, Arthur Schopenhauer. Well, Herr Schopenhauer, you may have been a highly respected post-Kantian philosopher who helped explain the limitations of human knowledge to the world, but I’m afraid I beg to differ on this one. If there’s one thing that I miss, now that I no longer have a 7 to 6 job in the City, it’s the company of others and, unless that German bag of bones is daring to imply that I am therefore a rascal, he can shove his pony theories where the sun don’t shine.
I had lunch the other day with a bunch of ex-colleagues and as we sat their drinking bottle after bottle of Gavi de Gavi and consuming various over-priced dishes at the once-trendy City restaurant Prism talking shop, my habitual loquaciousness took a back seat as I pondered what it was that was making me such an unusually happy bunny this lunchtime. As I found myself laughing that their dodgy city jokes, and slipping back into the familiar office banter and bravado about the markets, I soon realised that what I was enjoying was the sense of being back in their cliquey group.
This was tad ironic since one of the many things I have always hated about the City is the fact that its a tight-knit, exclusive club dedicated to making its mainly white, young, male, heterosexual members as much wonga as possible. But even though my vitriolic resentment was always bubbling away, I can’t deny I didn’t enjoy the camaraderie of working in the City. Not something you experience sitting alone in your bedroom staring at a lap-top.
I also couldn’t help notice at this lunch that I was most definitely no longer a ‘member of the gang.’ In fact, my former peers were clearly coyer in my presence. It took one of them to smugly explain to me over a brandy that I had blotted my copybook quite dramatically by breaking the City’s mafia-like code of silence and exposing to ‘the pond life out there’ the secrets of the Square Mile. Indeed, it seems that I now have toxic status and mere association with me can be potentially harmful to your City career!
I mean, of course I don’t regret chucking in the office job. But this writing malarkey is quite a lonely business and we Homo sapiens are by nature sociable creatures. I miss much more than I expected the feeling of belonging to the gang, but I suppose that’s the price you pay for retiring at 35 and writing a book telling everyone what a bunch of tossers all your ex-peers are. Never mind, I suppose I’ll just have to take up flower-arranging lessons or join a yoga group. Anything to get out of the house!