Last night I bumped into a chap who used to work at FTP. I was staggering, slightly blotto I admit, out of Julie's Wine Bar in Holland Park when I spotted a cheesy Oriental grin that I'd seen somewhere before. I realised that it was the Chinese fellow who'd headed our analytics unit. He was what they call a 'rocket scientist'. His team built weird and wonderful computer models that predicted where the market might 'boldly go' and that gave us some insight into how we might fleece the competition.
After these computer models proved themselves to be positively 'toxic' and after the market collapsed, he soon pissed off back to China and began working for one of the state banks. Maybe he felt a little guilty about the part he'd played in the meltdown... or then again, maybe not. I don't know, perhaps he'd decided that the rich pickings had gone for good and there was no point sticking around.
Anyway, this fellow was trying to woo a pretty Eurasian lady whom, it transpired, he had abandoned when he'd buggered off back to Peking or Beijing, or whatever they call it nowadays. She was heavily pregnant, one could clearly see. Was it the Chinaman's baby, I wondered? Anyway, I offered to buy them both espresso Martinis (she hesitated naturally) and began picking his brains.
Now... he soon confessed that he was trying to get back into the European financial markets. His departure had been premature, he'd decided. And he had realised that people (in the banking world at least) were no longer blaming rocket scientists and their funky derivatives models. He'd actually heard from a friend still working at FTP that the banks were hiring like crazy, and that this hiring included the 'rocket scientists'.
I offered to put him in touch with my old chums in the city and you should have seen the look on his face. All of a sudden he got down on his hands and knees and confirmed that his charming companion was indeed carrying his baby and that the little fellow was expected to sally forth any day now. He was desperate to do the right thing by her. He was terrified that he couldn't support her unless he returned to the land of plenty.
Of course I reminded him that the UK (in general) was not the land of plenty it once was. I added though that the bankers were coining it again thank you very much. And if he played his cards right he might be able to secure a post offering a modest bonus guarantee. He might even scoop up a cut price property in a decent school catchment area that would allow him one day to provide his little blighter with a half reasonable education.
"You mean state school?" he asked.
"Yes" I replied. "Since the market collapsed last year, these catchment areas have become much more affordable. Good time to buy, while the middle classes are tightening their belts."
"No. I do not want to buy advantage like all these middle classes do, sir. I just want to send boy to private school just like honorable investment bankers."
"I like that," I replied, somewhat confused by his logic. "A man who has no prejudices, no resentment, no envy... who doesn't want more than his fair share... who will work, work, work for what he wants and needs in life... who just wants what is best for his children."
"Thank you, sir," he replied and he bowed and scraped for a while longer.
"By the way," I asked. "How do you know that it's a boy? The baby, I mean."
I don't actually remember whether the fellow gave me a convincing answer to this question. He gave me some spiel about lucky numbers. But I'd had enough of this chit-chat by then, and decided to cab it home. Funny people the Chinese.
By guest blogger, Burgoyne.