DJ Taylor: How Simon Barraclough went from anonymous teenager to power geek

 

Share

Simon Barraclough was a painfully anonymous teenager. In fact the "Leavers' Notes" column of the very minor public school he attended in the 1990s said only of him that "S. Barraclough (Winstanley's) was a member of the debating society."

At Cambridge, he was known as Geeky Simon, and an aristocratic acquaintance, the heir to broad acres and grouse-filled moors, observed that, "Barraclough was so wet you could shoot wigeon off him." Of medium height, bespectacled and with a lot of badly cut brown hair, he was the kind of undergraduate whose appearance the reference-writing tutor is sometimes unable precisely to recollect.

Graduation came and the little band of convives departed – mostly to London and jobs in the law, media and the City. Thereafter, nothing was heard of Simon for some years, other than that he had joined the thoroughly respectable, but rather dull, accountancy firm of Tender & Mainprice. The haughty and glamorous girls to whom he had always been rather afraid to talk crossed him out of their address books and the two or three genuine friends he had made in the college branch of the Christian Union stopped sending him Christmas cards. It was said that, after qualifying, he had taken a job in Hong Kong.

Ten years passed. The glamorous girls, by this time, were writing columns for Vogue or at work on their first novels; the men were scaling the ladders of venture-capital firms. Still nothing was heard of Simon, until the evening someone saw him at a reception attended by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury and the Deputy Governor of the Bank of England. Enquiry revealed that Geeky Simon had recently been appointed head of Tender & Mainprice's corporate finance department at a salary of £650,000 a year.

He is a rather different-looking Simon now. The wavy hair has been pruned back on American corporate lines; the spectacles have gone. As to how this transformation came about, no one could say, but its consequences were enough to inspire one of the glamorous girls to invite him to the launch of a book she had written. He stayed 20 minutes, drank one glass of white wine and allowed her to understand that the recent re-financing of the firm that had published the book had been undertaken by one of his senior managers. Meanwhile, the Master of his old college, who wrote imploring him to address a graduate-recruitment seminar, has not yet had a reply.

React Now

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

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Analyst - Bristol

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An IT Support Analyst is required to join the ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Pakistani volunteers carry a student injured in the shootout at a school under attack by Taliban gunmen, at a local hospital in Peshawar  

The Only Way is Ethics: The paper’s readers and users of our website want different things

Will Gore
 

Labour's Simon Danczuk is flirting with Nigel Farage, but will he answer his prayers and defect?

Matthew Norman
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick