The biggest topic in the news this week has been the heat in London. This morning the TV was full of warnings to stay inside if possible because it was going to be “over 30”. I met an Australian acquaintance outside HSBC for a 12 noon run through Canary Wharf in the blazing sunshine, and we both found this quite amusing.
I was having a bit of a city moment, leaning against the huge bronze lions in my running kit, and squinting at the heavy suits emerging as if it was about minus 3. They glanced at me briefly, taking in the JP Morgan running T-shirt, the leggings and the long blonde ponytail, as I was perched between the huge paws and trying to shield my eyes from the sun with my arms. I really like those lions, and the longer I work there, the more meaning I seem, ironically, to find in these deliberately iconic landmarks. Working in a purpose-built business district is strange. I spend most of my time feeling as if I am one of the miniature plasticine figures on an architect’s drawing, eating my lunch by the fountain in Cabot Square, as I was desigened to; or standing outside one of the purpose-built bars, in my suit, holding a drink, looking out at the sunset over the purpose-built stretch of water, and liking it anyway.
Strngely, the people who work there seem to have no concept of the fact that the whole industry is its own idiosynratic universe. In the hidden recesses of IT and ops teams, people enjoy what they do, but whenever I mention that I used to work for a media company, they immediately say, “that must be so cool, with all those creative, fun people”. Except that most of the people I know from working in media are quite boring, so they spend all their lives trying to paper over that fact with shiny jobs, cocaine, parties, and stupid stories about photo shoots with models and “crazy” accidents which are usually the result of them having taken no responsibility for their own safety. Financial services, on the other hand, is full of people who know they are boring, but who don’t care, and (on the ops side anyway) just want to make some money and go home on time. They are also usually considerably more intelligent than the vast majority of the media flotsam and jetsam. They are very sure of their purpose, which makes me feel something of a misfit. I prefer their intellectual honesty, but the downside is that they hate change, ideas and ambiguity.
I am still enough of a dreamer to yearn for something new all the time, whereas for most of my colleagues, this is all that life has to offer, and it’s a good life.