diamond geezer

 Friday, January 20, 2012

I am the only person in the restaurant wearing a checked shirt. I thought I'd dress up a bit, no slobby jeans and casual top, but I fear I may have judged wrongly. I've come dressed for Shoreditch, but everyone else appears to have come straight from the City. Smart suits, power-blouses and shiny shoes are the order of the day, mostly in solemn black, so my semi-decent attempt at sartorial elegance looks very out of place.

BestMate reassures me that the restaurant was nigh empty the last time he was here. Not tonight. Every table, every sofa, every gap at the bar is taken, by a collective of bankingfolk continuing the business of the day. Even if the conversation's more informal than official, it'll oil the wheels of commerce when the markets reopen in the morning. I realise how fortunate I am that my job finishes when I leave the office. Many of these financial whizzkids are here out of obligation, not a desire to be sociable.

I'm wearing trainers, for heaven's sake. Fairly smart trainers, nothing I've previously walked down a muddy footpath, but nobody else in the building would have dreamed of turning up in anything less than leather. It's strange how a couple of miles, or even a few walls, can completely change the expectation of what punters inside a venue should be wearing. In E1 I'm sure I'd have got away with smart trainers and plaid. But the suits in Investment Country are no doubt thinking "who is that oik?", even if only surreptitiously.

We're dining out on one of the Evening Standard's special annual cut price restaurant offers. For a half-decent price we'll have a three course meal and a glass of champagne, probably for considerably less than then the party quaffing on oysters and fizz at the table alongside. It's bonus season in the City, which would explain the preponderance of post-office ladies and gentlemen splashing out some of their six figure windfall on booze or an epicurean blowout. I feel so utterly out of place standing at the bar, but the opportunity to people-watch is irresistible.

Cocktails... those'll help us fit in... so we both skim down the slimline menu of classics and house specials. I plump for a glass of ice with fruit juice and a kick, while BestMate ends up with much the same but in a differently shaped glass. I haven't eaten anything since lunch, so I'm very impressed when a micro-pot of mixed nuts appears on the counter beside us, whereas the top inch of my over-priced glass probably paid for the catering pack being slowly emptied in the corner of the bar.

We make an unspoken faux pas as we pay for our drinks, waving an actual banknote and handing it over the bar. Everyone else is on plastic, tapping in a few numbers at regular intervals, or piling up their credit for one final reckoning at the end of the evening. We get a single coin in change - one gets the feeling the staff don't deal with coins very often - but there's gratitude when we hand the coin straight back as a tip. When in doubt, pay twice.

That couple over there, he in the dark suit and her in the sophisticated dress, they're not husband and wife are they? He's all over her, increasingly so as more alcohol is consumed, while she gazes back with unspent wilful desire. It's the culture round here to work late at the office, but these two look like they'll be engaged in more than secretarial duties before the evening's out. Meanwhile the woman beside us is hunched up across two footstools, laptop open, furiously keeping in touch with her inbox via wifi. She has a very different night-time relationship with her manager, less physical, but still persistently intertwined.

A different career, a different set of priorities, and I could have been a financial whirlwind rounding off the day with a succession of celebratory glasses. Instead I'm the interloper here, ill-versed in share options and high yield bonds, marked out by my misplaced urban uniform. The waitress wanders over to invite us to our table, where the el cheapo menu is produced. We leave the dealers, the revellers and the canoodlers at the bar. The City, it's true, never sleeps.

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream