Art Exhibition- Tate
November 10, 2011 § Leave a comment
Horrible evening. Found myself at an art exhibition organised by one of the big European brokers. A heaving mass of bodies, faces I really didn’t want to talk to. Bankers, fund managers and brokers all exchanging gossip, comparing bonuses that kind of thing.
A few fitties though. Bankers, most of whom look bad, like to be seen with beautiful women. In contrast women tend to be poor at finance. Something about a non-mathematical mind. It’s very rare to find a beautiful woman here. I have one who works close to me, she’s in Iberian fixed income sales, Estella Caribou, but I think that she was hired because she speaks Spanish and comes from an aristocratic family in South America.
Susie, our p.a., is another looker. Seemed at home in this rarefied milieu. She was swanning around with a grin on her face all evening. Let me try and describe:
The waiter comes up to Susie.
“Would you like a drink madam?”
“I’ll have a Budvar thanks,” she says with a crude cockney inflection.
“Sparkling or still?”
She looks confused.
He opens a bottle of Badoit and pours it into a glass for her.
She takes it uncomplainingly. I’m about to pull her up on this when a squeaky voice behind me chirps up.
“And what does a trader know about art?”
There’s a bright light screaming in my eye and it takes me a second or so to register who it is before, to my dismay, I see its Jimmy Wong, a sleazepot who works at a derivatives brokerage. I’ve known him for several years, and it’s always a wrench for me to talk to him, since he’s sure to try and plug me something.
“Hi Jimmy,” I blurt with a smile. “Not much to tell you the truth. Didn’t think you’d be here however.”
“Ha, ha that’s funny. We are hosting this event after all. Art derivatives. Equity art swaps—Goldman. Copyrighted them. Launching a service too.”
He talks in soundbites which I fail to grasp. A spasm of tension crawls down my spine
“Ah right of course. I’m sure you’ll find some sucker to buy it.”
“Ha Ha. Yeah could even do some derivative art products, what do you think?”
“I think it’s the worst idea I’ve ever heard. Am sure it’ll fly.”
Jimmy, all 5 feet 3 inches, black slicked back hair, works at KK Travis one of the more upmarket brokers, though this term is relative. Brokers are little more than glorified bookmakers. Wang is one of the more downtrodden specimens in this farce. Still I’m doing my best to be civil when I spy the tall form of my friend Mike from JP wandering over.
“Jimmyyy!” he announces, slapping the guy on the back with an air of jovial menace.
“Mike. Glad you could make it. How are you?”
“Much worse for seeing your face, you dirty little shitbag,” he laughs. “So what are you doing here anyway? I thought they’d shipped you back to Korea.”
“Er no they just moved me onto hedge fund sales,” he says edgily.
“Ha, ha you scrotum-sucking money whore. So you’re sucking hedge fund cock now. That must be an awful job. And how many cocks did you dt to get your bonus this time round?”
“Oh come on its not that bad,” he says, trying to hide the clear look of disconsolation that’s crept onto his face.
“Not that bad? Not that bad? Hedge fund sales? Not that bad? Are you really as deranged as you look?” he slaps his back with a jocular enthusiasm. “Youuuu….its the worst job in the world. I’d compare it to cleaning toilets in a mental institution though you probably got the worse deal. Hedge fund sales, not that bad.”
He shakes his head and smiles ruefully to himself as though in mind of that bet he just missed out on with Harry in the playing fields at Eton.
Devastated Jimmy turns to me.
“O here I’d like to introduce you to Karen Long from S&P.”
A coquettish looking blonde with glasses, a cute elfish nose and an immensely red pair of lips appears infront of me.
“Karen’s head of European structured credit ratings,” says Wong. “She’s just been transferred back from Hong Kong.”
Which, sadly means that she is someone who I might be required to talk business with.
“Hi Tim Green, how do you do,” I say sparing no formality.
“Good, thank you.”
We engage in some small talk and infact she isn’t interested in speaking about work at all. The conversation’s flowing like liquid ice and I seem to be getting on well with her when Jimmy Wong sidles up to me with a slimy look in his eyes.
“I think she likes you,” he whispers in my ear with a grin.
“Well there’s no way she’d like you is there you homosexual, chinese dwarf,” says Mike who’s just reappeared, mirthfully slapping Jimmy on the back. “Go on and bother someone else you weasel.”
To be honest I’m not in the mood for Mike. He starts on Karen and so I wander off to look at some paintings and one in particular catches my attention. It is quite small and hanging in a dimly lit corner of the room where there are few people so I’m able to go close up to it. It’s a white canvas with numbers streaming vertically down it behind which is the faint shadow of a red screaming figure of a man his face disappearing into the ether.
It’s pretty grotesque but very powerful, and I even start to feel a little bit nauseous. The signature is a flamboyant black swirl which I don’t recognise.
“The masque of the red death!” announces a sudden squeaky voice behind me. I turn to see a stubby, black-haired little guy with bushy eyebrows.
“Eet was an allusion used in the book “The Bonfire of the Vanities” by Tom Wolfe about the excesses of Wall Street-uh during the 1980s to signify the greed, superficiality and vanity of the Yuppies. Not a very ingenious allusion but it resonates don’t you think?”
“It certainly has something. I was thinking it was a serial killer.”
“Eh? No its a parody of Velazquez- the Pope X which portrayed the corruption of the Catholic Church. Now I, being Italian, should know very well about the corruption of the Church-ah!” he smiles.
“My name is Giovanni.”
“Charles.” (didn’t want to give him my real name)
So he corners me and talks at me for the next hour and a half. Some time later I catch Mike tongue sandwiching Karen in the corridor. Jimmy is coked in the toilets. The Italian reappears, gives me a suggestive wink then hands me his card– Nakamura it says in bold cerulean font.