Wearing a classic navy suit with white shirt and discreetly patterned tie, Mr McDermott had wandered into a health seminar being run by his employer, the investment banker Warburg Dillon Read. Lured by the prospect of testing his cholesterol level, Mr McDermott found himself confronted by Kaye Ure, whose sartorial advice, he was told, "could make all the difference" to the way he was viewed at the office.
"We need to find colours that are in harmony with your skin tone," said Ms Ure, as the scarves switched from muddy brown to electric blue.
"My wife's being trying to do that for 30 years," he replied.
Ms Ure is one of several "ologists" who, over the next three days, will teach at least 1,000 of the 4,500 Warburg employees ways to reduce their stress levels and improve their general wellbeing.
Mr McDermott discovered that he was either a "summer" or a "winter" person and was clearly relieved to hear that he could keep his navy suits. Autumns and springs are advised to go for brown.
Keith Davies, a financial controller, said he was considering throwing out 50 per cent of his wardrobe. "I'm wearing the right shirt but my spectacles are warm tones and that's no good."
Elaine Fletcher, the company nurse and co-ordinator of the seminar, said: "Everyone talked about the Eighties being the decade of stress but in fact things are no different now. The technology is so much faster that people feel even more pressure to work harder."
Elsewhere in the hall, a young man was demonstrating the calming power of the yo-yo to a group of young bankers. "Life has its ups and downs. Just like the stock market," said a notice. Most simply pocketed the yo- yo and made straight for the cholesterol queue.
Iridologists, massage therapists and manicurists did a roaring trade. William Behan, a company chauffeur, sipped a yoghurt full of "friendly" bacteria, and said the company should have run the health scheme months ago. "I saw them when the euro was happening and it was dreadful the stress they were under. This sort of thing is excellent for everyone and it's good for the soul," he said.Reuse content