The Trader: A butler? People will think he's a New Labour MP

'Having a servant is cheaper than you think; I can easily afford it'
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The Independent Online

Jaap has made it through his first days back at work, thanks largely to the fact he's doing only 10 to 6. This doesn't stop him complaining, but he gets no sympathy from me. After all, as I keep pointing out, he's practically working a half day, so I'm the only one allowed to bleat about tiredness round here, thank you.

"Ah, now I remember what it is about you I love most," Jaap says, smiling with an edge of sarcasm. "Your compassion." "Oh, you're so funny," I say. "Forgive me for thinking you were desperate to get back to the rough and tumble of the trading floor."

"I was," Jaap replies. "But mostly out of the perfectly reasonable fear of finding I'm not, in fact, irreplaceable. There are aspects of convalescing I'm missing very much, you know: Gordon, for a start."

Gordon, I should explain, was Jaap's private nurse, a saint of a man who dealt with the Sick One's every request and whim with unfailing cheer. "He made a delicious fruit smoothie, too," Jaap says with a nostalgic sigh. "Anyway, I was thinking of employing a full-time Gordon."

"What?" I say in disbelief. "A nurse?"

"No, of course not," Jaap replies. "I mean a butler."

My stomach gives a horrible lurch. "You can't do that," I say, appalled. "Everyone will think you're a New Labour MP."

"I doubt it," Jaap answers. "I'm not nearly smug enough to be a politician. Anyway, having a butler is cheaper than you think; I can easily afford it, even though you're not an heiress. Oh, while we're on the subject of money, we ought to talk about buying a house. Much better to start off married life in a property that's new to both of us, don't you think?"

I nod weakly, with a mounting feeling of dread. You can't talk about houses without talking about money, which is my least favourite topic of conversation ­ certainly when it's my money we're talking about. But Jaap is ahead of the game; several convalescent hours on the sofa have produced a clear set of figures showing that we can, without going mad, afford around £1m for our new home.

I have visions of myself wafting around a vast, well-appointed kitchen with an Aga, preparing delectable meals for friends in an unflappable, Nigella-like manner. The whole house, of course, would be exquisite: the decor, the furnishings, even the people; like something out of a glossy mag. Then I feel my brow furrow. Is that really the right shade of pink for the fifth bedroom? Wouldn't "Pompom" be better?

I'm jolted back to the real world by Jaap asking how the wedding plans are going. "Fine," I say. "Nice of you to take an interest. I've persuaded the parents to have the reception at their place: you know, marquee on the lawn with extra-strong heaters, and the rest. I've also squared things with the local vicar, who thinks I'm a complete heathen but says he lives in hope."

"You didn't tell him you don't believe in God?" Jaap says.

"Of course not," I reply. "I'm not a complete idiot. All I told him was that I don't believe in religion. He said he didn't really believe in it either; that's why he joined the Church of England. Anyway, there's loads more to sort out, and I'd be grateful if you could help me now you're well again. Otherwise, by the time the day arrives, I shall hate you."

"The best way to start married life, according to Oscar Wilde," Jaap says.

"Ah, yes, the marriage expert," I reply. "Anyway, I've done some sums of my own, and even with the reception at my parents' house the good news is it's going to cost a fortune.

"So everyone will know exactly how brilliantly we're doing in the City."

thetrader@hotmail.com

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