Archive for the ‘Trading Floor’ Tag

The Killing Floor (8)

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“What’s that all over your desk?”

“What does it look like?!”

“Well… Liquorice allsorts er; obviously…”

“Literal and correct – as always… you never disappoint.”

“Okay, where’s this going exactly?”

“Ah; I’m just reminiscing – that’s all.”

“Never had you down as someone who was remotely sentimental – let alone a sweets kind of person.  Always the next deal: coffee; more than the odd cigarette… oh; and plenty of booze after work of course – but sweets?  Nah…”

“These represent a turning point in my life if you must know.”

“What… remembering when you first ate them as a kid?”

No… first day on this job I was given a lesson in economics at a nearby bar by the late, great Marcus Cousins – dealer extraordinaire and all-round great white shark in the murkiest of waters.  Biggest there was in his day.  And it just so happened that in imparting his considerable wisdom he used a bag of Liquorice allsorts.”

“Why?”

“They were to hand… he stole them from a kid on his way to work… the corner shop was fresh out of Jelly babies… How the hell should I know?!”

“Hang on… Cousins?  Bit before my time – I was still at Uni deciding what my career options were…. but wasn’t he responsible for that insider dealing scandal?  If I remember he nearly brought down a Tory Minister and a couple of blue chip companies…”

“He did… shafted them all – and the Minister’s wife for good measure…”

“Classy guy then?”

“Like I say the late, great…”

Right… fled to some Pacific island dictatorship with no extradition treaty and oodles of other people’s cash.  A real crook by all accounts.  Let me guess… What did he see in you?”

“Natural talent…”

“So he taught you everything he knew with his bag of Liquorice allsorts?”

“Not quite taught… I didn’t need that much…”

“Of course not – silly me: as if?”

“He mentored me if you must know… you’ll understand that given all those corporate bonding exercises you insist upon going on – he pointed me in the right direction.”

“A life of crime?”

No… he knew a great dealer in the making…”

“So much so that he offered you his bag of Liquorice allsorts?  Didn’t your mother warn you about sharks offering sweets?”

“Just have a sweet and shut up will you?”

Oooh yes – I’ll have one of those… Mmmm that’s good; though they’ve gone a bit soft under all these strip lights… aaahmmmm…. alright; put me out of my misery and tell me what he taught you… mmm….”

“When you’ve quite finished?”

“Oh er; sorry… this one’s stuck all over my teeth… sorry… carry on; ahem…”

“Okay… Let me see if I can remember it all near enough… like I say it was a long time ago now – a different world… Each one of these sweets represents a deal.”

“Okay got that… mind if I have another one?  Mmmm lovely… So what about this one the solid round liquorice?”

“That’s a basic commodity deal – What You See Is What You Get.”

“Er… What about the round liquorice one with the white centre?”

WYSIWYG is true – but not always: sometimes there is hidden leverage to be had in the deal or another to be struck.”

“It’s good this – I’m beginning to get the drift – so how about the sandwich?”

“A complex deal on more than one level so take care you don’t get caught in the middle.”

“The multi-sandwich?”

“An extremely complex deal on a whole number of levels – but with the subtlest rewards like the flavour of this one in the bag.”

Okay… this is fun!  The round coloured coconut one with a liquorice centre?”

“Beware of some deals… they’re surrounded by so much hype and PR that it’s a while before you can get to the core of the matter.”

Mmmm… I like coconut.”

You would…”

“Okay; so what about these – the aniseedy, chewy ones with the scores of little nobbly bits on them; you don’t get many of them in a pack.”

“Precisely… some deals are very rare – especially where you can make hundreds of thousands on them.”

“The Bertie Bassett?”

“Never had them in the pack back then but if I had to hazard a guess – they’d represent the  financial regulator: never needed them; never wanted them – never asked for them.”

“And the special red Bertie?”

“Oh I don’t know – the financial regulator with the scent of foul play in his nostrils and the government of the day up his arse?!”

“Are the different colours relevant?  After all there’s pink and yellow for the coconut ones and those chewy aniseed drops come in blue and pink… and…”

“Only in as much as deals come in all shapes and sizes I suppose… ”

“Oh…”

“What’d you expect – pink for the girls and blue for the boys?”

“No… just that it would have made it more interesting if…”

“Look!  They’re a metaphor – not a bloody handbook!”

“I just thought that…”

“Well don’t!”

“Alright, if each one represents something – is a metaphor like you say – then what about the pack as a whole?”

“A warning for being too greedy maybe?”

“How?”

“By wanting it all too quickly…”

Mmmm… mind if I have that last coconut one?”

“Go ahead… eat as many as you like… yeh; that’s it…”

“What?”

“The metaphor for the whole bag… No one can have it all – if you try and do all the deals at the same time you’ll end up with a nasty taste in your mouth and equally nasty stains in your trousers.”

“Still like to know what the man himself thought… Anyway – I’m off…”

“Coffee run?  I’ll have an Ethiopian – three shots as usual…”

“No!  I’m going the other way… there’s a 24-seven on the corner by the Tube… you’ve actually inspired me for once – I’m going to get some Haribo mixed and see if I can’t bring this up to date in time for that team building weekend in the Lake District.”

Sweet Jesus… It takes all sorts…”

The Killing Floor (7)

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“Thanks Charlie!  That’s right – no more blanks!  Damn it man – of course it was me!  I always get there in the end… Ha! Ha!  Yes, we simply must… once all the hoo-hah has died down a bit.  I know; that’s the trouble – she who must be conveyed is here already… but Trish needs her so what can you do, eh?  That’s right we really must catch up some time… and James if he’s available?  What about Kelvin?  Too busy?  What Kelvin?!  As if!  Okay speak to you soon… love to Anna and the girls… right; I’ll try not to.  Ha! Ha!  Cheers then matey.  Right you are…. Bye!  Phew…”

“You alright?”

“Me?  Oh yes… I’m great… I guess… Just trying to get my head around it…”

“Around what?!”

“It’s finally happened!”

“What has?”

“The big one…”

“You mean you’ve finally made a deal that hasn’t unravelled or needed rescuing by yours truly?”

“No… We’ve conceived… Me and Trish – well, she has!”

“Good grief.”

“Tested yesterday…”

F**k…”

“Confirmed by the doctor today…”

“…in’

“She just rang me from Harley Street.”

Hell… That’s it then.”

“We’ve been trying for ages and…”

“All over – capiche?”

“Trish is ecstatic: she’s talking about names already!”

“Mr Dead End that’s a good one.”

“What?  Oh, hey John thanks.. yeh, that’s right – who’d have thought it?  Cheers!  And you!”

“Welcome to Kaputsville…”

“So long as it’s healthy I’m not really bothered…”

“The career care home…”

“Should start thinking of putting its name down for schools and… hey hang on a minute… what on earth are you on about?!”

“Just as well clear your desk now before upstairs asks you to.”

“What?!  Everyone else is pleased… but I should have guessed it’s too much for you…”

“Let ‘em… they can goo-goo and ga-ga all they like – and after waving pleasantries at John double-barrelled bullshit over there I’d check my wallet, my watch and my brain cells – I’m your only friend in all this – I’m telling you like it is… you should listen.”

“To what?!”

“Last guy to get pregnant – yeh?  They sacked him within a week.”

“Who?”

“Gavin …”

“Maybe they did – but what’s that got to do with his wife being pregnant?  He had the most persistent coffee-breath I’ve ever known – so much so they christened him Gav-the-gag.  He had a personality disorder – that stood out like a socialist plumber in a Bank of England lavatory during a monetary policy meeting – which incidentally he told the nation all about in great detail on his unauthorised guest appearance on The Jeremy Kyle Show… and that was all apart from being caught openly manipulating interest rates: an offence that when he was confronted with by his department head – he told him he was screwing his wife on the side and he was doing that because she had no interest in their marriage and rated him about three out of ten between the sheets…”

“Ah yeh… but he only did that because he had a kid…”

“Jeez… I give up.”

“Listen to me… get a kid and you go soft… I’ve seen it all before… the risk element leaves as quickly as a paid PR.  You lose your balls… they shrink in inverse proportion to all that touchy-feely – real man – this is what’s truly important -hearts and flowers – run through the sand together stuff.  You’ve been emptying more than them out on her cycle and remember – she owns the saddle!  You’ve been blowing your career as you’ve been blowin’ your load.   You’ll be in with the foot soldiers next – the bloody woodentops in corporate or business banking… MY GOD!…”

“What’s up?!”

“ For a fleeting moment I had a vision of you dealing with SME’s.  OH NOIt can’t be!

“What now?!”

“They’ve only gone and sent you back to training to work on the bloody high street!”

“I said to Trish this morning – if it’s a positive just give him ten minutes and he’ll drag me down to his level straight away.  You’re just… just… perverse…”

“Hey, don’t shoot the messenger!  Making money is what’s important – you’ll go fiscally flabby in a few months: this place will be like a crèche for the common good; it’ll be all about the sprog’s future clouding your judgement when what is important is the deal – NOW!  Oh; and instead of the lovely rich odour of business and accumulating dosh – the only smell will be of sour milk from the puke stains on your shirts.”

“You just carry on with the hard currency man act – I’m not convinced… ok?”

“………….”

“………….”

“Hey; come on… let’s celebrate with a coffee… an Ethiopian, yeh?  And how about I get them to put in an extra shot?  It is good news you know… Come on – what d’ you say?”

“I say forget it – the only drink I need kills sperm on contact and comes with a grown up age on the bottle.  And the only good news around has just been flagged up on my screen as another of my babies reaches maturity so – if you’ll excuse me – just head that pushchair in the direction of all those soft mums-to-be over there will you?”

The Killing Floor (6)

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Oooh… I don’t know about you but I need a holiday.”

“Huh?”

“I said – I need a holiday.”

“Oh…”

“You thinking about getting away soon?”

Nah… I’m tired.”

“That’s why most people have a holiday…”

Naah… I’m tired of holidays.”

“Surely Immy needs a break?  You said she’s been flat out with modelling work the last six months – I know Trish is dropping lots of hints about exotic climes; I’m going online tonight when she’s out at her mother’s – try and surprise her.  Must remember to wipe the history this time!”

“That’s it in a nutshell…”

“What?  You mean you’re going to take my advice and do the same?”

Nah…  Of course not… Immy’s been so busy the last couple of years – never mind the last six months…”

“Even more reason to take her away…”

“No… that’s the point; she’s taken her kit off everywhere that qualifies as tropical, historical, trendy, off-the-beaten track or best kept ‘secret’ – I’ve filled in all the places on the map for adrenaline junkies and together we’ve joined the dots on anywhere that the sun shines hotter than here.  In that pep talk on the top floor the other day  – you remember; when Vialli the Roman on holiday was droning on about corporate responsibility – I worked out that between us we had been round the globe twice.”

“That’s amazing…”

“No… that’s a lot of new handbags and swimwear – it’s why I’m thinking of taking advantage of the new regulations and do my bit to boost the economy by building an extension for extra wardrobe space.  Help out Eastern Europe anyway – maybe a quick Polish build by one of the cleaners’ husbands.”

“Bloody hell!”

“I am joking…”

“Yeh – right: er, I knew that…”

“We’ve got more rooms than even Immy knows how to fill – although she’s doing her best.  Anyway – don’t want to make cleaning too easy for that damn Filipino maid.”

“You two still don’t get on?”

“That bitch from a one-chicken town is the only person I know who is more arrogant than me!”

“Well there’s a reason for a holiday…”

“Not if Immy decides she needs dressing help and brings her with us.”

“She wouldn’t?!”

She would… she’s like the mama she never had – apparently; the press call us Masters of the Universe when I feel more like Mario stuck in a cart given the run around.  Undermined in my own home by a ruddy peasant!”

“Seeing that you’ve been everywhere and done everything… Haven’t  you ever thought of employing a sort of reverse psychology and… oh, I don’t know – maybe try camping say or going to the seaside?”

“What?!  Are you serious?  In England!  Camping?!  The seaside?!  What’s this – some sort of back-to-basics austerity kick?  Make the banker pay?!  Who do you think I am – Vince Cable?  The only tent Immy wants to see is the one in me trunks when she parades the latest style up and down by the hotel pool.  As for the coast… Eurgh… All those real people… real ordinary people with snotty-nosed brats, parading their inbred obesity up and down some tacky sea front: all over-sized tattoos and chip fat oozing from every pore barely concealed beneath a tsunami of casual polyester.  Are you for real?!  Sounds like you’re the one who needs the holiday.”

“You were real once…”

“Yeh – but I was never ordinary!”

“It’s only a suggestion…”

“So’s this – you want to keep it real?  I’ll have an Ethiopian – three shots.  If  I went away just think how much you’d miss your trip round the corner.  Oh and it’s pissing down out there – proper English holiday weather.”

The Killing Floor (5)

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Oh-my-God!  That’s just so awful!”

“What’s up with you?  You sound like an Essex tart whose boyfriend can’t get it up…”

“That was Gavin on the phone… Haven’t you heard?!”

“Heard what?!  The FSA have declared Fridays an economic free-for-all?  The Press are sponsoring hug a banker day?  The Labour Party have decided it wasn’t our fault?!”

No… It’s Nigel from Mergers and Acquisitions…”

“What – the useless twat has actually made some money?  That’ll be a first.”

“He’s committed suicide…”

“He did that professionally every day with those jokers in M&A.”

“Gavin says it all got on top of him last night…  He went drinking around the Wharf bars – wouldn’t answer his mobile to Daisy… He stepped in front of a DLR train at Mudchute at seven this morning.. awful way to go.”

“Typical Nigel… jumps in front of the most unreliable public transport he can find.  He never could make a decision.”

“It’s the kids I feel sorry for…”

“What about the commuters?  Luckily I drove in this morning.”

“Don’t you ever give it a rest!  A man has died!  Two young children have a lost a father this morning!  Daisy… well; I can’t begin to think of the state she must be in…”

“Look; I didn’t push him…”

“I’m sorry… but it just makes me want to go home and give Trish a big hug.”

“I am too… but Nigel – nice bloke and all that – but the cut and thrust of the job… well, as you say a man has died and it’s a time to be respectful – but he was crap though.”

“According to Gav he had depression – he’d been under the doctor for several months: no one thought it was so bad that this was coming…”

“I do understand you know; I had depression once as well.”

“You did?!  I mean – you did?”

“Don’t sound so surprised – I am bloody human too!”

“I’m sorry… sorry; here’s me mouthing off as if you… you know, you didn’t care.”

“Yeh; people get the wrong impression about me.  Just because I’m great at my job.”

“Well, you do seem to have it all sorted – top dealer three years running, big house, top of the range cars, mega salary and bonuses; Immy’s a top model…”

“I know… but I’ve been there… I’ve stared into the pit of despair.”

“If you don’t mind me asking?”

“That’s alright… I realise it’s difficult for some men to talk about…”

“What made you… you know?”

“It was a Thursday… I was down to my last 10k – it had been a real heavy month expenditure wise…”

“So that was the last straw for you… you weren’t going to do anything stupid were you?”

“God forbid!  It was just one of those twenty-four hour things – like man flu.  Friday quarter of a million went in – Happy Days… no more depression!  So let’s stop wallowing.  Time to move on.  Mine’s an Ethiopian – three shots…”

The Killing Floor (4)

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“You got a sense of duty?”

“Strange question for an early morning… why do you ask?”

“Nothing really – just that I had a nine o’clock meeting with an ethical fund manager…”

“Let me guess… God On A Shoestring?  The Tree Hugging Sap Savers?  Profit With Morality – Extremely Limited plc?”

“Yeh; something like that… anyway it got me thinking…”

Oh no… no; no; no; noooo!  No thinking!  Start thinking about any of that duty with responsibility crap; making money with a clear conscience; high fives, alleluia, final day of reckoning rot and you’ll be like a well-honed boxer who gives into an orgy with three virgins the night before a championship bout.  It’s poison to the only true religion… the only clear faith… the miracle of the balance sheet.”

“So you don’t have a sense of a higher authority in anything you do?”

“Only the regulatory bodies in the City.  And him upstairs – on the twenty-fifth floor.  Always remember: the market is our hymn sheet; the deal our expression of faith and money is the sacrament.”

“You don’t answer to anything from a higher plane then?”

“Not so you’d notice – only me old Dad once; and with all that pressure he put on me when I was a kid… well, I guess all he really wanted was for me to make something of myself.  And that’s being charitable… Now look – the only good cause I work for is the charity of ME.  I’ve seen fire, flood, pestilence, disease, famine, feast, war, uprising, colonial insurrection, revolution, jihad, new constitution, devolution, takeover, flotation, administration, management engineered buyout as well as consolidation… and made money out of all of them.”

“Proud Father then?”

“Not really… he left me Mum the mortgage, next door’s missus a baby, and me a post-it note telling me that he thought I was a waste of space and that he’d see me next Tuesday if you get my drift?”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t realise… where is he now?”

“He opted out to live with a girl half his age but twice his chest size in a tepee community in Wales that lives off the land – and benefits – near the Brecon Beacons.  He’s got hair to his waist, fluff in his navel and what’s left of his brain after years smoking skunk and three more snotty brats to his knees.”

“Oh… Look I’m really sorry…  Hey; what about I go and get us a coffee – Yeh?!”

“Not now … all that ethical shit and talk of my old man has left me feeling distinctly queasy.  Eurgh…  Fuck it…  Let’s make some money!”

The Killing Floor (3)

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“Ooh that’s so rich…  Mmmm…. Delicious!”

“Huh?”

“I’m sorry… Do you want some chocolate?  Only Justin raided Harrods in his lunch hour – he got a hamper with some amazing handmade eggs and things – and I don’t think there’s a lot left after the back office got their sticky fingers into it…”

“Nah.”

“You okay?  You seem very quiet today.  Looking forward to the Easter break I bet – chance to recharge the batteries?”

“Nah; I was just thinking about Jesus.”

“Jesus?”

“Yeh.”

“I never knew you were religious?”

“I’m not… I was just thinking how much me and him have in common – that’s all.”

“You and Jesus Christ?!”

“Yeh…  just think about it… we’re both Masters of the Universe; I was sent to the office near Temple tube once to sharpen up procedure by the money lenders – well, the Head of Corporate; I was cast into the wilderness for two months by the FSA for that ahem, minor technical indiscretion: I’ve been crucified in the press and parliament on a regular basis for what I do – and I can pretty much turn anything fishy into a good deal.  We’re both concerned with profits – even if he does spell his differently: I also had a very demandin’ old man who thought I could shit miracles to order.  Oh; and you’re one of my disciples – although I haven’t decided which one yet – and before you say that there’s only four of you in this section – that’s restructuring for you… and for that you can blame Giuseppe Vialli who is fresh on the board following the Euro crisis: so there you go… neither me nor Jesus could get on with things without the interference of the Romans…”

“You can’t be serious?!”

“And why not?”

“It’s just not right…”

“Why?”

“Well… because… because…”

“Because you can’t tell if I’m for real… Can you?  Which is why I’m the top dealer here and you have to go and get the coffees in…  Make mine an Ethiopian: three shots!  If that chocolate is as rich as you say I’ll need something to wash it down with…”

The Killing Floor (2)

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“Hey… do you ever sort of feel guilty doing this job?”

“…………”

“What about that we can shut companies down; put people out of work; make Governments cut back on welfare…. does that ever keep you awake at night?”

“…………”

“Is there any time you’ve gone home at the end of the day with a funny sort of gut feeling – right down in here – that what we’ve done is somehow… immoral?”

“…………”

“Do you think it’s really possible to reconcile earning so much money – just at the click of a computer key?”

“…………”

“Shall I go get us a coffee?”

Good man!  I thought you’d never ask… you taking Trish out tonight?  Though Chelsea are on the box in the Champion’s League… thought we could make a foursome later on in the week if that’s alright with you?  Imogen’s been having a go at me, again, says I’ve been neglecting her since she came back off that modelling assignment.  Maybe we could do that member’s club in Soho?  It’s a bit passé now I suppose.  What about that night a couple of years ago at Chinawhite’s?  You remember… it got out of hand when the whole floor was celebrating the merger – I got a bit pissed on the Champagne then she gave me the silent treatment… get me a three shot will you – need something to keep my eye on the ball; let me know what Trish thinks… make sure it’s that Ethiopian blend won’t you?  You know what I like… probably more than Immy these days!  Thought I’d take her somewhere exotic for Easter – trouble is she’s been everywhere warm in the last six months for the swimwear shoots – muggins here will have to push the boat right out to surprise her: there goes the bonus!  Mind you she does get a bit stir crazy in that house all day… have I told you the echo’s deafening?  All those rooms and those high rococo ceilings…. not original features of course – they threw the place up at the end of the last property boom.  They’re a bugger to clean – I told Immy to get a specialist firm in… can’t have the Polish cleaners breaking their necks… though I would send that Filipino maid up the ladder if I had my way – makes me feel like an intruder in my own bloody house!  Disapproving bitch!  I moved into a gated community so I could keep my mother from coming round unannounced and now I end up with earache from her!  Trouble is Immy likes her… she’s got six kids back in Manila and her always talking about them is getting Immy broody… now she says we should start filling some of these empty rooms but I’m not ready yet – you know how it is?!  I expect Trish is the same?  I told her to get a dog – you know, one of those little ankle-biters she can put in one of the designer bags she has for every day of the month that I pay for… at least her expense accounts are cheaper than a house full of brats… now – where’s that coffee?”

 

The Killing Floor

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Yes!!!  Get in there!”

“Someone’s happy?”

“Oh yes… Just had a great result on those commodity prices…”

“Another flaky African republic bites the dust, eh?”

“Left eating it you mean!   We’re like a proactive branch of the Foreign Office here…”

“Why make a packet out of a crisis?”

Because we can!!!” 

“All this talk of dust is making me thirsty… fancy a coffee to celebrate?”

“Only if we go to that little shop around the corner – they do a lovely ethically-sourced Ethiopian blend.  All fairtrade and above board… You know me.”

“Yeh, you’re all heart…

 

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