Dear Rupert Pennant-Rea
You'd have been OK committing adultery as a vicar - or a royal. But a banker? Deputy governor of the Bank of England, no less? Sorry, we're not that liberated yet ...
Wednesday 22 March 1995
There are plenty of ways of making a living in which the probability of your having affairs is taken for granted by the public. The theatre. Television and even print journalism. Novelists have affairs, then write books about them. Advertising. The pop world (Paula Yates and Michael Hutchence are the latest examples). Modelling. PR. Had you selected any of those, a little tinkering with female colleagues, a spot of after-hours jiggery-pokery would have been nothing to worry about. Not in terms of resigning.
You can even be a vicar nowadays and get away with a lover or two - of either sex. Good heavens, you can practically be the heir to the throne and get away with it, unless your wife happens to be the Princess of Wales, in which case the plate-throwing goes beyond the kitchen and into the tabloid headlines.
But there remain certain professions where extra-marital sex is still taboo. School-teaching is one and, unfairly, this extends to the spouses of teachers as well. Another, as you have discovered, is banking.
You can't pose as guardians of the public purse, solemn purveyors of dosh to the nation, controllers of the country's overdraft, while indulging in hanky-panky. It doesn't go with the stern image of probity, self-control, sacrifice and restraint you are busy urging on the rest of us. A bank manager in flagrante is a bank manager rumbled. He is seen to be no better than his customers: and his status and credibility depend on the (totally false) premise that he is better than they are.
The deputy governor of the Bank of England in flagrante is a deputy governor on his way out. In France, Italy, Greece - all those realistic Continental countries where testosterone and high achievement go hand in hand - your amorous peccadilloes would earn you a hearty male clap on the back from colleagues, plus a lot of that gleeful thumb-clutching, index-finger jabbing and ear-fingering by which the Europeans indicate sexual activity. Your female colleagues would gaze at you with wild surmise and flick their skirts in that special way as they swished past your desk.
I daresay a banking post in France can be arranged. You'll feel at home. L'heure de cinq sept - the afternoon hours sacred to extramarital bliss - will be right up your rue. If your wife starts behaving with unwonted skittishness, if her clothes bills escalate dramatically, why, dear Rupert, what's sauce for the gander is surely sauce for the goose.
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