The Trader: Give me a stiff drink or I'll kill my neighbour

Neil never did understand how I could have refused to go out with him

IT COULD only happen to me. Overjoyed to be leaving New York after a hellish week, I bounded on to the plane home - and found myself sitting next to the odious Neil.

"Long time no see," he said, smirking. "You missed me?" Looking at him, shoes kicked off and enormous holes in his socks, I couldn't say that I did.

I remembered all the things I loathed about him: his existence, mainly, but not forgetting the back-stabbing and arrogance and stupidity.

"What do you think?" I replied with heavy irony, though sadly not heavy enough for Neil. He just smirked and said something about how I shouldn't be coy and he supposed the men at my new job weren't up to much. It was going to be a long flight.

Neil, in case you don't remember, is the former colleague with the reality problem: what he sees is not what you get.

And what he sees in the mirror is a babe magnet. He never did understand how, then, I could have refused to go out with him, particularly not after he took delivery of the Porsche.

Presumed I was frigid, I suppose, and proceeded to politic me out of a job.

So you can understand my lack of joy at our unplanned reunion. Unfortunately, the plane was full to bursting, so there was no way of escaping for a snooze either.

Six hours with Neil, and straight into work for Tuesday morning. I need a drink, I thought - no, make that two.

"So, how's tricks at the new gaff?" Neil asked me, but I'd barely got further than saying it was going fine when he interrupted. "That's great, good to hear it," he said.

Then he launched into a blow-by-blow account of what had happened to him since the trading operation at the last place had been dismantled.

The drinks trolley arrived. "What's the most anaesthetising drink you have?" I asked the nice man pushing it.

He looked hard at me and you could tell he was grappling with a moral dilemma.

He'd surely been told during his training that it was drunk passengers who cause the trouble, bottling staff and trying to open the doors at 37,000 feet.

If he plied me with drink, would I start singing "Danny Boy", or worse? (I could hear Laura's voice in my head asking if there was anything worse than me singing "Danny Boy", but it was imaginary, so I ignored it.)

I gazed up at the steward in desperation. Look, I wanted to say, if you don't ply me with drink until I'm numb, I will kill the idiot sitting next to me. Then Neil barged in with some comment, and the penny dropped. The steward gave me two vodkas with ice and with a "Neat all right for you, madam?" moved on.

More relaxed now, I tuned in to what Neil was saying. He was in a fine mood, pleased with some new scheme that was going to make him and his friends a fortune, all very hush-hush but it was going to make George Soros look like an OAP. Then I fell asleep.

At Heathrow, I lost sight of Neil until the queue at passport control. He was about 10 people in front of me, tapping his toes impatiently. But as he went through, a man in a grey suit broke loose from a cluster of other men in grey suits and put his hand on his forearm. I'd seen that gesture before, I thought, but where?

Then I remembered: on endless television detective programmes. What in the world did the police want with Neil?

I cleared passport control and walked as slowly as I could past Neil and the grey men. And that's when I heard the policeman tell him: "I think you'd better come with us. We'd like to ask you some quest ions ... "

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
people
News
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
music
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Neil Pavier: Management Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you looking for your next opportunity for ...

Sheridan Maine: Commercial Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ACA/ACCA/ACMA qua...

Laura Norton: Project Accountant

£50,000 - £60,000: Laura Norton: Are you looking for an opportunity within a w...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine