Her show, her restaurant and the currency deals she made earlier

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The Independent Culture
Think of the high-flying City trader, think of a single-minded workaholic. But, as Jojo Moyes discovers, some are choosing to invest time and money in unusual extracurricular projects.

Clare Kosinski works at the financial giant Deutsche Morgan Grenfell in the high-risk, high-return world of emerging markets. Her days are spent trading foreign exchange currency of non-G7 countries, such as Czech treasury bills. It can, she says, be stressful work in a punishing schedule, especially when, as is the case currently, the markets are in turmoil.

But instead of beering it up, or flopping in front of the television with a Tesco Metro chicken korma, Ms Kosinski, 33, leaves work to focus on two other passions: her theatre group and her restaurant.

The Three Legged Theatre Company, which she set up in 1990 with a close friend, has put on productions by Beckett, Berkoff and Chekhov, and has been regularly reviewed by Time Out, the London listings magazine. In April she opened the Sixty Two Restaurant, in Southwark, south London, a joint venture with two friends.

She admits that the restaurant has added to an already hectic schedule. "I do have to work hard to fit it all in," she says. "I have to be incredibly organised if I'm to have any kind of private life or social life above any of this. My diary is God."

There has been, she says, a bit of compromise. Since she was promoted at work, her theatre activities have had to be scaled down.

"I had to cut back on the drama. I used to stage-manage all the shows. Now I just produce them. I just go in once a week and do it, or if there's a quiet day on the markets. But I can't guarantee I'll be there every day."

And balancing work with such a hectic social life means that priorities have to be set. The reason she has never had any "aggro" from her boss, she says, is because hers are clear. "If my boss says we have to work late, he knows I'm never going to say, `oh, but I must go to the theatre.' No one's interested if you say you have something else going on - it's not the theatre that pays your wages."

Having to juggle work and outside interests to such a degree inevitably has disadvantages. Ms Kosinski admits that things are fine as long as all areas are running relatively smoothly. If they all go pear-shaped at once, things can get hectic.

"The week when we started the restaurant was a nightmare. We opened for three days, then the chef became very ill and we had to close. Then I did my back in, so I ended up spending a week at home, lying flat on my back, and the phone did not stop ringing with things for me to sort out. I had calls from distressed partners, or moaning waitresses, every hour, and I was trying to do my job. It was massively stressful. I thought, `I must be completely mad.'" The last two months, because of the state of the money markets, she has hardly been to the restaurant at all.

Ms Kosinski is able to do what she does because she lives close to her work. If she had to commute, she says, she might easily end up too exhausted to do anything but flop. She is also unbound by family commitments, and her social life largely conisists of being with people from the theatre group and restaurant.

She is now using that fact to bring the three seemingly disparate areas of her life closer together. "We organise gala theatre evenings, where I get everyone I know from the City to come along," she says. "They've always been very successful. People are generally quite surprised that they enjoy it - usually they think it's going to be awful. And it shows that two worlds can collide."

The restaurant, she says, has provided the catering for the theatre evenings. And where some people might be wary of a night at fringe theatre, they are not as shy of the restaurant. So enthusiastic have her team have been, she says, "they practically have a table".

Despite the City's single-minded, somewhat macho work image, Ms Kosinski says that increasing numbers of her colleagues are investing time, money and energy in large projects outside work.

"When you start delving deeper, there are a lot of people who have other strings to their bows," she adds. "When we set up the restaurant, I was talking to another director here and found out that he owns a wine-importing business - so we ended up getting some of his wine list."

Whether Clare Kosinski can sustain three huge projects indefinitely has yet to be seen. But for the moment, she says, her outside work interests alleviate the stress of her City job.

"Having those other things has certainly kept me sane. This job is so all-consuming - you're talking big figures, big swings in profit and loss," she says.

"But the nice thing is that if I've had a really stressful day I'll go to the theatre, and no one cares. They'll be saying, `But I don't know where my character's coming from.' It certainly keeps everything in perspective."