Finance: Being caught in the act puts boss on the fast track to tantrums

In the Eighties, being banned from driving was quite funny. But times have changed

THE DARK storm cloud of Rory's anger hangs over our corner of the trading floor. Every so often there are bangs and crashes and rumbles from the direction of the boss's desk, and we hardly move for fear of the next terrible outburst. Even Mrs Hughes, our normally unflappable coffee lady, is being careful.

Pushy young Simon is the most paralysed. He was the one who started it by foolishly beating Rory in our go-karting contest. If he hadn't, Rory wouldn't have been pressing so crossly on the accelerator of his beloved Porsche as they headed back into town on the M1. Which means he wouldn't have been clocked doing more than 100mph by the boys in blue, who take a dim view of that sort of thing.

"Lucky he wasn't over the limit," Simon whispers from the desk behind me. "All the same, he'll have to go to court. There's a good chance he'll lose his licence. Apparently, in the Eighties, people in the City were forever being banned from driving and it was considered funny. But times have changed. That's why Rory's so livid." "Well, of course," Laura says. "It's the same with drink-driving; it's simply not on these days."

"Oh no, it's not that," Simon replies. "It's not breaking the law that's the problem; it's being caught doing it. I mean, what a dope. He'll be a laughing stock."

Laura's jaw drops before she can stop it, and she pretends she's dropped her pen under the desk to have time to recover. By the time she emerges, Simon has gone to the boys' room, so Laura and I can eat our chocolate cake in peace. We've just devoured the last squishy mouthful when there's a sound from Rory like a volcano erupting.

Our chief honcho has spotted Simon sneaking back to get his electronic organiser and it's more than he can bear. "I'm not bloody well sitting here looking at you all day," Rory bellows, hurling his handset to the desk. He snatches his jacket off the chair and stomps out.

Laura says: "I suppose this means Rory's off to deal with his anger in a thoroughly adult manner, as usual."

"Yes," I reply. "He'll have gone off to get roaring drunk. Mind, you do have to be over 18 to buy alcohol, so technically it is a grown-up thing to do."

"Mmm," Laura says, and we both get on with writing the weekly market commentary.

Several hours - and several units - later, Rory stumbles back into the office. The alcohol cure appears not to have worked; in fact, it might even have pickled Rory's bad mood, since he's as snappy as when he left. "He'll be in a strop tomorrow when he wakes with an evil hangover," Laura whispers. "So that's another day of snarling to look forward to." We watch as Rory stands by his chair. Suddenly, like a dog picking up a scent, he stops, lurches towards his cupboards and starts pulling out files. Before I can stop myself, I've called out: "Oh Rory, you shouldn't mess up your filing system - what if you forget everything?"

Rory snarls: "Don't be rithiculouth." So I shut up. After all, he does know what he's doing. It's just tomorrow he won't remember. And tomorrow always comes.

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