Finance: The Trader: A lukewarm welcome to not-so-stormin' Norman

Click to follow
LIFE SHOULD never be like this. We lose crazy, irresponsible, gifted, inspiring Rory as our boss, and in return we get... Well, it's not Neil, which is a relief and a half. The thought of him swanning around and being difficult was almost more than I could bear. Presumably, the higher-ups also felt they didn't want to land themselves with someone who takes his shoes off and fiddles with his flies during meetings. So, in their infinite wisdom, they have given us Norman.

Norman has been in charge of the New York team for about five months, during which he has objected to every innovation, every fresh idea of Rory's without ever producing any of his own. Plainly, in the eyes of London senior management this is a good thing; after all, new ideas are all very well, but they're a bit confusing, aren't they?

Anyway, they're pretty safe with Norm, from what I can see. No chance of anything novel from him. If I say "John Major", you'll get the picture, since our Norm also grew up in a south London suburb and still has the flat voice to prove it, despite a year in New York. Everything about him radiates dullness, if dullness can be said to radiate.

For a start, there's the name. Not inspiring. I mean, would you follow a man called Norman yea even unto death? (If you're American, don't answer this.) No, of course you wouldn't. You'd hand him the ledger and put him in charge of your accounts. So quite why we're expected to look up to a man who didn't even have the wit to thank God for the Gulf war and call himself "Stormin" is beyond me.

Then there's the personality. Rumour has it that he does, in fact, have one.

Certainly Gill seems anxious to credit him with one, but then she's his PA, so it's probably just wishful thinking. Laura and I aren't so sure. After all, he's been here three days and I haven't seen him laugh once, and on the rare occasions when he smiles it's strictly mouth only. It doesn't help that he talks in a nasal monotone (John Major again) that makes anything sound boring. "Just like listening to the football results, I think," says Marlene, but she's wrong. Compared to Norman's delivery, the footie results are full of drama.

The arrival of our new boss has prompted new activity on the FX desk. Nothing to do with the currency markets, of course. No, the boys have been busy churning out jokes and starting a book on how long it'll be before someone falls asleep while Norm is talking to them. On the joke front, their best efforts have been along the "he's so boring he could bore for..." vein, which make you laugh even if they're not particularly brilliant. My favourite so far is "He's so boring he could bore for Shell", but then maybe I have a weird sense of humour. ("Better than none at all," says Laura. "Look at Marlene.")

When we're not listening to jokes, Laura and I fill the spare moments trying to work out which trace of Rory will be the next to go. The white board has already been wiped clean of the list headed "People Rory Does Not Take Calls From". The filing system must surely be the next casualty, so we decide to have one last nostalgic trawl while Norman is away from the floor. There's "Letters from idiots 1998", where correspondence from the MD goes, and "Stupid and unworkable ideas", full of suggestions from the New Product team.

"Oh look," says Laura, who is rifling through "Obviously made-up CVs". She waves a piece of paper. "You'll never guess who this belongs to." But she's wrong, you know. I will.