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
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Senior SEO Executive

£24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior SEO Executive is requi...

Recruitment Genius: Online Customer Service Administrator

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Online customer Service Admi...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketing Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global, industry leading, ...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living