We All Want Romance; What We Get Is Stew


Life in the City, as we are reminded by our friend Larkin below, isn't quite the bowl of cherries that most people outside believe it to be. Best I let Larkin blow off a bit of steam and share his day with us,

"The difference, of course, is union power. The RMT has the uniquely reparative Bob Crow furthering their interests and can hold the entire capital to ransom merely by threatening to withdraw their labour if demands for longer tea-breaks are not met. Stockbrokers, however, lack this solidarity and have forsaken union membership for contracts which are mostly unenforceable and the general populace are not intimidated by warnings that if the 50p tax rate is not abolished and the bonus tax repealed then some market commentaries or even some flow advertisements may be withheld.

Mind the gap - between what tube drivers are paid and what subsistence brokers earn.

If Transport for London reneged on promised perks or summarily dismissed a particularly refractory employee then handbrakes would be applied and every train on the Underground would be halted. In the City, every year, commitments to award discretionary bonuses based on performance are routinely welshed upon and when mass redundancies are announced (pretty much a daily occurrence at present from what I can tell) bovine brokers cower and commiserate rather than discarding the keyboard, replacing the handset and storming off the pub with a "One out, all out" sodality.               

Stockbrokers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but highly-remunerated employment in air-conditioned offices with more attractive birds dotted around than you find in most industries, indoor work and no heavy lifting. Actually, you have everything to lose. This is an industry crying out for union leadership, for a Lech Walesa or a Bob Crow but not, I think for me. Liberty! Egalite! Poverty! The slogan ends on a down-note.  

I pride myself as a sales-trader in using all my resourcefulness to constantly introduce new services to an undeserving client base. The latest product to come off the assembly line is a live time feed to my commission calculator. Going forward, you won't need to call in and find out how good or bad things are. You can simply consult my message header on my Bloomberg screen and the little number (I doubt it'll ever be a big number) there is a real-time link to the bottom line. Most of the time, it won't look live time because it hardly ever fcuking moves but rest assured our engineers will be monitoring this so you have all the information you require when you need to decide whether to despatch that LUDO to some massively overpaid, bulge-bracket chimp or a modestly-rewarded independent, persevering with integrity against overwhelming odds. You'll note today that I blew through $1000 around mid-morning and have been sitting here engaging in sub-tabular self-interference and sexual reverie ever since.                                    

That figure, however, because it rounds to the nearest whole number, does not incorporate the commission generated by the smallest order I've ever taken and executed this morning. I'm at a ripe old-age to break my record which was set dumping an odd lot of Dickson Concepts for a buy-side dealer I felt sorry for, back in HKF in the mid 1990s. Today though, I undercut that massively by taking and working with my customary panache an order for one share only of Is Bank in Turkey. Gross consideration 4.05 Turkish lira, that's $2.26 dollars and the brokerage was $0.0045. In a career that has been constructed from low points (I use this phrase more often than I should) and humiliations both major and minor, this represented yet another cratering of self-respect.      


I've done quite a lot for charity down the years; marathons, triathlons, distance swims, a Birdman competition (after winning the competition by virtue of being the only person to dive headfirst -rather than jump - and impale myself on a bicycle concealed in the deceptively shallow Cam) but contrary to appearances, subsistence broking isn't set up as a charity, you know. One of my colleagues here, however, is participating in the November moustache cultivation project for charity and is treating it as a full-time job. It's incredible how a centimetre of upper-lip bristle can transform a expression of hardened probity into the shiftiest cad imaginable. I couldn't do it myself. I struggle to grow hair anywhere on my body - even for charity - although I've had a couple of girlfriends who seemed to have no problem, even with the 'tache.  Most worrying of all, a bout of blindfold soixante-neuf with a Thai masseuse left me pondering on which end I'd been chomping exactly because there seemed to be a moustache at both. When I get to meet my maker, what exactly happened in that rundown Phuket pension while I was unsighted, is something I would like to clarify with him. I never drink La Tache without shuddering slightly at the thought. Actually, I never drink La Tache full-stop.


 When I was a kid, my nan was in the habit of saying "a stew without onion is like a kiss without a moustache" which confused the hell out of my nine-year old self not because our stews seemed only to consist of onion but rather because my grandad was clean-shaven. She led a miserable fcukign existence my grandmother ("Oh Jesus, Mary and Joseph, not Christmas again. Please God let this be my last" was her standard seasonal greeting) and I often used to feel sorry for her, married to a feckless, crapulous sailor when what she wanted in her life was a bit of whiskery tickle high and low. We all want romance. What we get is stew."