Finance: The Trader

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RORY HAS taken Sam to the cleaners. In a manner of speaking. What actually happened was a blazing row over Saturday lunch - something to do with Rory having dinner with his wife - at the high point of which Sam stormed out and Rory hit the bottle. Several hours later, in a drunken rage, he bundled all Sam's designer duds into a taxi and drove off with them to the dry cleaners.

In itself, taking your girlfriend's clothes to be cleaned is not grounds for separation, especially when you were the one who bought them in the first place. Unfortunately, when he woke up in an alley off Oxford Street in the small hours, it was all he could do to remember his name, let alone where he'd taken Sam's threads. Someone had lifted his wallet as he slept, so he didn't even have the receipts.

When Sam came back from her mum's on Sunday afternoon and found her denuded wardrobe, the hoped-for reconciliation - flowers, chocolates and dinner somewhere posh - bit the dust. Rory slept on the sofa at the far end of the Docklands warehouse conversion, saved from having the bedroom door slammed in his face only by the fact that there wasn't one.

Since then, they've hardly spoken, not even in the office. It isn't helping the poor girl's temper to have to walk around in her pre-Rory nylon suits from shops called things like "Miss Tammy" and "Empatique".

The not-talking bit is tricky given that Sam and Rory's jobs require them to talk to each other constantly. Still, it's amusing the rest of us to watch them trying to work without any direct communication. And it stops us brooding on the week's greatest tragedy, which is this: through some terrible cosmic oversight, we do not work for Goldman Sachs.

This would be more bearable if we hadn't, a year ago, been involved in some fairly heavy discussions with Goldman's about a team move there. The deal never came off, because Rory thought they were too boring for words, and they thought he was too "interesting". If it had, we would now be whooping it up big-time and planning ways to spend our millions.

"Though what constitutes `whooping it up' at Goldman Sachs is hard to imagine, isn't it?" Laura says thoughtfully, no doubt remembering that dinner where the Goldman boys drank Perrier and picked at salads before dashing back for a midnight visit to the office.

"Don't worry, they'll find a way," I assure her. "Big, big houses and big, big cars, for a start. Then tiny, tiny mobile phones and tiny, tiny computers, and one day they'll realise they can't find a thing because it's all too small."

"Jealous?" asks Laura.

"As hell," I reply.

I'm saved from further displays of bitterness by the phone, and I'm delighted to hear my mate James's voice at the other end. "What's up, James?" I try, and he tells me about his kid sister's hilarious first day at her Saturday job. "Some old bloke in his thirties, steaming drunk, staggered in with a huge pile of really great clothes. He could hardly see straight, he was so drunk. What's the betting he doesn't even remember where he was?"

"Pretty high, James," I laugh. "But I think I may be able to solve the mystery ..."