Christina Patterson: Why it's hard to be a blonde in the City

Share
Related Topics

Two tales of the City. In the first, an attractive blonde meets a City financier, and is very, very cross because she is treated like "an Eastern European mail-order bride". In the second, an attractive blonde meets a City financier and is very, very cross because, she says, he tried to kiss her, even though he doesn't fancy blondes. Dearie me. It's hard to be a blonde in the City.

The first blonde (actually I don't know if she was blonde when she met her man, but she was, with very dark roots, in the photo I saw) is Diana Jenkins, a Bosnian refugee who met and married Britain's highest-paid financier, Roger Jenkins. He was earning £40m a year as head of Barclays' tax avoidance division, but her life in London, she said, left her feeling "unfulfilled" and "empty". Not, it turns out, because the money was in any way unsatisfactory (or indeed her husband) but because of the other wives. They, apparently, were extremely snobbish. "Unfortunately," Mrs Jenkins told Tatler, "with social girls, if you have a big diamond ring they will talk to you. So," she added sadly, " my lovely husband bought me a diamond ring."

The second blonde is Jordan Wimmer, a Canadian executive who met her financier, Mark Lowe, in a hotel room. He was interviewing her for a job, which he gave her on the spot. On the basis of merit, of course. He was, she has said, "one of the biggest players in the industry", and she was "in awe of him". She was a little less in awe, however, when she discovered a bit more about what being a "player" in the industry meant. It meant going to lap dancing clubs, apparently, and meetings in which female employees were wearing hot pants and stilettos.

Wimmer, who was earning £577,000 a year by the end of her time at Lowe's hedge fund firm, Nomos Capital, was so upset that she had to be treated for depression and anxiety at a £10,000-a-week private clinic. Now, she's suing the firm for £4m. Yes, that's 432 times more than Anthony Duncan, a soldier with the Light Dragoons, received for injuries and "mental anguish" in Iraq, and 4,000 times more than residents of Abidjan received from Trafigura as compensation for the health problems caused by the dumping of toxic waste, but hey, this is the City. And things are different in the City. Boy, are they different in the City.

So, a woman married to a man who devotes his life to helping very, very rich people avoid paying tax (so that not a penny of their gargantuan fortunes is wasted on people in society stupid enough not to have amassed gargantuan fortunes) is surprised that the women who marry the men with gargantuan fortunes aren't that nice? Or at least aren't that nice unless hubby has bought you a rock that really rocks? And a woman who works for a man who devotes his life to making very, very rich people even richer by a form of high-class (or at least weirdly high status) betting, is shocked when he treats other people as objects? Who did the poor darling she think she was going to work for? Nelson Mandela?

In spite of the mini-backlash against bankers (which is partly a form of collective sour grapes), we still have enormous, ridiculous, unwarranted respect for the very rich. Politicians (whatever they might be saying now) flock to them. Women flock to them. Everyone flocks to them. And then we expect them to be nice?

At one point, said Wimmer, Lowe confided his anxiety about whether a Malaysian woman called Ling – she of the hot pants and stilettos – "was really in love with him or simply after his money". And this was a (big, fat, dark, ugly) man who complained about the intelligence of blondes.

Lessons in love (and luck) from the First Lady

I bow to no one in my admiration for Michelle Obama. Intelligent, thoughtful, gorgeous and marvellously tall, she is feisty, without ever being ungracious, and manages to convey that she's a separate human being to her husband, with her own head, and her own heart, without implying (unlike our own dear Cherie) that it's all about her.

At a time when the world thought her husband walked on water, she spoke about his dog breath (a trope disastrously misappropriated by Sarah Brown, whose husband has, in recent years, appeared to walk only on banana skins) and now that the world is united in fury that he isn't Jesus Christ, she speaks of him in the same calm, consistent voice. But I think perhaps she could spare us the advice on finding Mr Right.

"Cute's good," she says in the latest issue of US Glamour magazine. "But cute only lasts so long." More important is the state of a man's heart and soul. "Don't look at the bank book or the title," she urges. "Look at how the guy treats his mother."

Indeed. Of course, it does help if your man looks like a film star, and happens to be intellectually brilliant as well as sincere, and has the kind of forensic brain that enables him to train as a lawyer, and an academic, and a politician, but can also speak and write like an angel. It does help, in other words, if he is the most eligible man in the world.

But no matter, Michelle. I'm sure there's a Barack out there for all of us. Really.

The simple benchmarks of love and loss

One of the many pleasures of autumn is a walk in the park. Green spaces which, only weeks before, were ringing with the sound of children shrieking and playing (and whining for crisps and ice-cream) have a quite different feel.

There's a mood of quiet melancholy: in the once-green leaves, now brown or yellow or brilliant red, floating to the ground and resting delicately on the grass, in the gentle drizzle and the soft grey light, in the scattered figures, now surrendered to coats, and in the set of their backs and their walks. And then there are the benches – benches with plaques, bearing messages of love and loss.

In my local park yesterday, I spotted one to a Mortimer Ribbons, not yet 60. "Dearest Mort," it said, "your unique talents, wild wisdom and incredible compassion will be remembered always." There was one for a Sunny Cracknell, only 24. "A gentle young man, with a generous heart. A loving son, brother, nephew and joyful friend." And then, heartbreakingly, there was one for Eva, just two. "Chasing pigeons, feeding ducks, in spite of illness. Living every moment."

Mortimer, Sunny and Eva, your names (your wonderful names!) are still alive in Clissold Park and so, I'm sure, is something of your spirit.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

VB.Net Developer - £40k - Surrey - WANTED ASAP

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: .Mid Level V...

Digitakl Business Analyst, Slough

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Competitive Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Dig...

Mechanical Estimator: Nuclear Energy - Sellafield

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Car, Medical, Fuel + More!: Progressive Recruitmen...

Dynamics NAV Techno-Functional Consultant

£50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: An absolutely o...

Day In a Page

Read Next
'Our media are suffering a new experience: not fear of being called anti-Semitic'  

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk
David Cameron (pictured) can't steal back my party's vote that easily, says Nigel Farage  

Cameron’s benefits pledge is designed to lure back Ukip voters. He’ll have to try harder

Nigel Farage
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In my grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel