The Trader: That's life in the dynamic City soap opera

`Don't be ridiculous! Who would model themselves on a TV show character?'

OUR NEW trader Kirsty arrived for her first day looking relaxed, happy and bronzed - as bronzed as anyone with red hair and milky skin ever can. "It's out of a bottle," Laura said, just a touch dismissively. "Look, no freckles. See?"

Laura's less-than-generous comment may be prompted by jealousy. While the rest of us are a bit washed out, Kirsty looks almost healthy. That compulsory paid month out of the market that former employers insist on is one hell of a tonic. If not for the tedium of interviews, I'm sure everyone in the City would resign at least once a year. What this means is that Kirsty is also blessed with an exhausting amount of get-up-and- go. The only member of the team who has more is Simon, our annoying new junior salesman. "Shame it isn't got-up-and-went," mutters Laura, darkly. "I'd be cheering even before the door closed behind him."

Unfortunately, dynamism is one of those things that's better in theory than in practice. You can tell this from reading all those profiles of business types in the papers. "Well," friends and former colleagues say, "the thing about X is that they're so - dynamic." You know, however, that what they're really itching to say is: "They're bossy and ruthless and they never listen to a word anyone else says."

Kirsty may well be turning out to be dynamic, too. She has made it perfectly clear to the FX boys that she'll be taking none of their nonsense. They, in return, have nicknamed her "BB" - and I don't suppose they mean it as a flattering reference to Brigitte Bardot. "I don't think they have any for me to break," says Kirsty when I mention this. "Anyway, I've been called worse." Somehow, I can believe it.

What I'm not so sure of is whether this toughness goes through to the core or whether it's merely skin deep. A thick hide is a handy attribute in the rough and tumble of the trading floor, and it's easy enough to go a stage further and find you've donned an entire set of armour, too.

"I know who she reminds me of," Laura pipes up after Mrs Hughes has rattled out of earshot with the coffee trolley. "The Scottish one in This Life - who drank too much and behaved like she didn't give a damn about anything. Do you think she's modelled herself on her?"

I laugh. "Don't be ridiculous," I tell her. "Who ever heard of anyone modelling themselves on a character in a TV show."

Laura gives me an amused look that says she prepared to wait for the moment when I eat my words.

The moment is not long coming. The team has retreated after work to The Cat and Coleslaw for a few large vodkas and some beef and mustard crisps, and while the boys play a terrifyingly competitive game of table football (Rory and Simon vs Jaap and Findlay), the rest of us are having a good chat.

We have already discussed how handsome Jaap is and what a shame he's our deputy boss and therefore off limits; the dangers of work romances; the unlikelihood of anyone ever having a fling with Simon, and the near- certainty of someone giving him a thump very soon ("I'll do it," says Laura); and the people we do like and admire.

"Oh," says Kirsty. "That's no problem at all. Did you ever watch This Life, the series about the lawyers?" I nod weakly, and Kirsty carries on.

"Well, maybe it's just because I'm Scottish too, but I always wanted to be the Daniella Nardini character." Laura smiles.

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