The Irritations of Modern Life 52. City Boys

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The Independent Culture
SO NICK Leeson is out of jail. Not quite as contrite as we might have expected, though the glint in his eye could be due to a lucrative deal with a tabloid newspaper. He said that he looked forward to drinking with his mates. For City boys like him, there is no greater pleasure in life than letting it all hang out with the lads, which usually involves getting totally out of control.

A couple of weeks ago, I was at a posh birthday party given by a City- boy friend of mine. The Bentleys were parked in the driveway and stripe- shirted bankers were drinking champers and braying about their hefty commissions, when suddenly they were squirting each other with water pistols and trying to pull each others' trousers down.

I have always thought that it was normal to behave very badly when you were young and assume a mantle of cool by the time you reached 30. It seems I was wrong. Merchant bankers, brokers and executive hot-shots who get up at five in the morning to go to the gym, before spending their working day bringing down the economies of small countries, think it entirely normal to regress to childhood as soon as the doors of the executive stronghold are shut.

It's true they work hard, in a highly pressurised environment, and they need some form of catharsis. But do Italian businessmen unzip their Valentino trousers and moon at passers-by? Do French aristos get smashed and throw up into the flower arrangements at their friends' weddings? Pas de chance.

Even the Americans, who indulge themselves with desks the size of jumbo jets and jumbo egos to match, draw the line at farting in their colleagues' faces. This childish behaviour is a peculiarly British phenomenon.

Not that there is anything wrong with a bit of childish fun. But there is a big difference between recapturing lost youth, and being stuck permanently in the middle of it.

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