Let's start with a scene from Woody Allen's Love and Death (his grand parody of Russian Literature).
A young boy is talking to his priest. The boy asks, "What's a Jew?"
The priest says, "What, you've never seen a Jew? Here, I have some pictures."
"Oh wow," says the boy, looking at them, "and do they all have these horns and tails?"
And so it is with bankers today (and yes I did choose a comparison with uncomfortable historical parallels). Me included. For I often find myself frothing at the mouth at the thought of all the crap the financial industry has dumped over our heads these last few years, whilst continuing to feather their own nests with impunity. Business as usual – what a chilling phrase.
The only problem with my anger is that some of my best friends are bankers. Not only that, but I still work within the industry on occasion, albeit in that woolly-minded, liberal offshoot called Training and Development. And whilst I might have flights of fancy where I wreak a terrible vengeance on the heads of evil corporate psychopaths and narcissists, it's fair to say I always manage to exempt the people I actually know. (Well, most of them).
Truth is, I like their company – my friends that is – and I like seeing them in their London habitat. Going to a Corney and Barrow in the City is pretty much the same as a visit to the Zoo. My friends are good company, funny and intelligent, are old enough to have some perspective and, on the whole, are as despairing of this world as I am.
More importantly, they're very good at picking up the bill in posh restaurants.