Throw Away Situation
The first year working at UnderDogs was a shock to the system as the work was so dull. I was used to being tested daily during pupillage and I found the boredom there hard to take. But I was a newly qualified lawyer and had to begin somewhere. It was just a matter of getting on with it and learning the application of law in a financial context. This was not the most exciting thing I had ever done, but the reality was I could not afford to practice at the private bar, so the employed bar had to be the way ahead. And I was earning a good wage for once in my life. The repetitive days were balanced with regular beers after work.
In the second year, my workload increased in terms of complexity and I was given two trading desks to advise. The head of legal said I was proving myself and I got along with the traders. Despite my lack of experience, they seemed to respect the legal advice I gave off-the-cuff. Things soon got a lot better and I began to enjoy the work, maybe because I began to specialise and had more responsibility.
One evening, the legal department was invited to a champagne reception, complete with hors d’oevres and vol-au-vents. I was not used to events with free alcohol and poncey food. At the end of the evening, gifts were given out, which were little bags with rope handles and crepe paper flowing out, each holding a plant. I looked at them and declined. However, my boss and another lawyer nicknamed Bruiser took the freebies and walked down the street together to a pub.
Bruiser had a reputation for getting drunk and angry. Although I had never witnessed it, I found it surprising as he was slightly built and short. Still, his hang-ups were no concern of mine until he approached me while I was talking to some other lawyers. He wore a lop-sided smirk and had an air of smugness. Bruiser became lairy so I made fun of his height. He slapped me in the face. I stood and stared at him. Satisfied with the delusion he was hard, Bruiser walked away and sat on a white plastic chair at the edge of the pavement outside the pub. The head of legal told me not to do anything rash.
Bruiser had his back to me and faced an enormous puddle in the street. I walked over, picked up his chair by the armrests and threw him away. A chair leg bounced, span around and he landed on his back in the puddle. He looked down at his soaking suit and then angrily at me.
“You’ll get a dry cleaning bill for this,” he shouted.
“Come near me again and I’ll rip your fucking throat out,” I growled. The head of legal tried to calm it down and extracted me from the situation. I heard years later that, at another work party, Bruiser actually head-butted a lawyer. I have no idea how he avoided getting the sack, but his arrogance and alcohol were not a good mix.
The drinking at UnderDogs soon spiralled out of control, with the head of legal and other lawyers sloping off to the pub most afternoons. I went to some of these, in fact Friday afternoons in the pub were filled with laughter, but not to the extent of leaving for the pub so regularly. Influence was being exerted on me to go to the pub more often, which I deflected largely by my lunchtime circuit training and I had taken up kickboxing after work. I wanted to stay fit and be myself, not become a typical City boy.