I spent the summer in blissful unemployment and milled around taking time out. Michelle and I had moved house and I met some people where we lived. The place used to be a traditional English village until the London sprawl caught up with it. Residents were primarily snobby types and gossips. Not my sort of people, so I managed to catch up with friends further afield. The important thing was I had some happy times until I had to return to work.
I decided it would be useful to see what it was like in a more prestigious bank. Surprisingly soon, I got an interview at BigShot Bank. It was a global investment bank, which had a reputation for fast pace and hard hours. The initial interview was on technical aspects of law and economics. This moved on to meeting members of the team and then human resources. I received an offer much earlier than I wanted, as I liked being out of work. They pushed for an early start and I was back in the workplace before I knew it.
Through those revolving doors, I stepped into a different world. I settled into my new desk and messed about on the computer system. In the afternoon, I was shown around the vast trading floor, which was the size of a football pitch. I noticed it had a different feel to UnderDog Bank. It was much more egotistical. I could smell the greed. There was a hum of activity, constant telephone conversations, groups huddled up in discussion and the occasional loud exclamation. The super-important traders had banks of twelve monitors on their desks. Others made do with eight monitors and the lesser still had six. Taking their place at the lower end of the food chain were lawyers, with only a couple of monitors each.
Loud voices brimmed with confidence. The accents did not matter, from posh boy to east end, so long as it was loud, because presumably they thought that meant being a winner. There were some mathematical, studious-types but, as a general rule, loudness got ahead. And that meant more money. The pseudo-machoism overflowed into the London bars at night where shouting and quaffing fuelled a need to impress bosses and the unrelenting desire for more money.
My boss was well suited to this place. He strutted around and spoke in a voice which was a bit too loud. A musty smell seemed to follow him about. The other lawyers in the legal department were actually quite normal. We had a good laugh, worked hard and regularly met for drinks toward the end of the week. After an initial lull, I was given several traders to work with and got busy. Over time, I helped to build their businesses and developed new types of contracts to facilitate the trading of esoteric asset classes. The traders were switched on and I enjoyed working with them.