Finance: The Trader: We City sippers don't belong in Wharf bars
The problem is, lots of `Other People' are there as well
Wednesday 08 September 1999
"But the rumours might be wrong," says Jane as we sit over a bottle of oaky red in our favourite after-work wine bar. "You know how City types love to gossip, especially at the end of a boring summer." Unfortunately, much as I'd love to believe Jane, our directors have come out and categorically denied there's a move afoot, which as Rory points out makes it pretty well inevitable.
The thought is enough to make a girl weep, even in public. "Oh, please don't look so sad," Jane says. "I'm sure it won't be that bad. I've heard the shops are actually quite good now; I mean, you can buy Filofax inserts and shoes and sushi - all the essential stuff. "
I snuffle sadly into a paper napkin. Somehow, I don't think being able to buy a linen shirt in my non-existent breaks is going to compensate for 20 more minutes of travelling each way - and that's on a good day, I'm told. It's not as if I don't get up early enough at the moment. At this rate, it won't be worth going to bed in the first place.
Still, it's not all bad news, I suppose. For a start, all those people who colonised Fulham because they thought it was terribly vulgar to live south of the river will now understand why the rest of us didn't.
I mean, I don't see our directors doing a Morgan Stanley and laying on a bus for their far-flung SW10 employees. With any luck, our gilts traders will be permanently tired and smugness levels in the office will plummet.
The thought of drink has me heading to the bar for another bottle, and by the time I return Jane is ready with more cheery thoughts. The main one seems to be that there are wine bars at the Wharf as well, just as chrome-shiny as those in the Square Mile. "No fake wood panelling, no swirly red-and-orange carpets, no smell of stale beer," she says enthusiastically.
"Rory will be disappointed," I reply. "Those are his favourite."
Deep down, I'm back to not being cheerful. Unlike Jane, I have actually flogged out to E14 to see for myself and it's not like the City at all. The bars may look the same, but the problem is there are lots of Other People in there as well.
"What, you mean, people who don't work in finance?" Jane says. "But that's terrible." And the sad thing is, she's right. After all, you don't think all those banks and brokers and traders have squeezed themselves into the same small space round Bank for the past few hundred years because they can't bear to be apart? No, it's because everyone else hates us. And now we're going to have to mingle.
"So I was standing at the bar waiting to be served," I say to Jane, "and some scruffy woman with lots of bangles shoved in and said something pointed about how some people thought they bloody owned the place. Then she went back to the other end of the room and stood around laughing in our direction and looking superior with a whole load of types in Nehru- collar linen jackets."
"Don't let them make you feel small," Jane says. "They're just jealous because you earn more. You should be used to that by now."
But I'm not. After all, as we all know, money isn't everything.
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