Here's a lesson for us all: sex is not a matter of taste

The Trader
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The Independent Online

Four bankers in new-style work clothes are huddled in a padded, pink plastic-lined booth. Three of us - Jaap, Findlay and my good self - are gazing forlornly at our drinks, wondering what we will eventually find under the forest of jaunty cocktail umbrellas, cherries and swizzle sticks. Only the fourth member of the party looks truly happy.

Four bankers in new-style work clothes are huddled in a padded, pink plastic-lined booth. Three of us - Jaap, Findlay and my good self - are gazing forlornly at our drinks, wondering what we will eventually find under the forest of jaunty cocktail umbrellas, cherries and swizzle sticks. Only the fourth member of the party looks truly happy.

Rory has excelled himself. Our recent after-work drinking sessions have taken us along well-worn paths. The journey from the dingy pub on a boat and chrome-and-bleached-wood City bar to heavily mirrored Mayfair club is one we could all make in our sleep - and often have. But I think we can safely say we've never been here before.

"Here" is Wai-kiki's, "a little taste of paradise" (their words) on the City fringes. "Taste" is an optimistic word to use in the circumstances.

The theme, as you may have worked out, is sort of South-Seas-meets- Hawaii Five-O. So, along with the retro pink plastic, we have fake coconut palms, bamboo and bougainvillea, with a Pacific island classics trilling from the sound system. My biggest fear, is that I will see someone I know or, worse, they will see me. That they too would have to explain their presence doesn't occur to me, until Findlay helpfully points it out.

Rory's attention is elsewhere. "Anyway," he says, "we're not supposed to take this at face value. This display of bad taste is obviously meant to be ironic."

"Oh," Jaap and I reply, and Jaap continues: "Well, I never knew the City had so many postmodern, ironic thinkers in it. Yet this place is packed. And there I was supposing it was because the well-endowed waitresses are wearing micro grass skirts, a flower garland and not much else, by the look of it."

"Skin-tone bikinis," Rory chips in. "That's what else they're wearing. I'm pretty sure I'm right." He turns to continue his in-depth study, and we raise our eyebrows, although I notice the boys do it with less conviction. "Well, that explains half the clientele," Findlay says. "But what about the women?"

"Have you seen the barman?" I reply. The boys look, then nod with understanding. The unbuttoned Hawaiian print shirt may not do much for a girl's heart, but the toned torso underneath does. Lookalikes are strategically placed to wait on the girls'-nights-out groups, just as the South Sea maidens are poised near the men. This is tip maximisation at its finest.

"Ouch," Findlay yelps, rubbing his nose. "That hurt. That umbrella thing only just missed my eye."

"Oh, Findlay, you great loon," I say. "You're supposed to take it out of the glass first."

"Hmm," Jaap says, prodding crossly at the contents. "The only problem is that if you do, there's not much else in there - look, just the cherries, swizzle stick, ice and a mouthful of pink liquid. Is it really likely to make us any happier knowing we've just paid £7.50 for that?"

Rory breaks off again from his investigations. "Didn't I tell you?" he says. "The company credit card's paying for this. It's an official team-bonding session."

There's silence, then Jaap blurts: "Do you know, maybe I'll have another of these delicious pink drinks." Findlay tries to attract the attention of the prettiest waitress.

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