Money In The Bank

Less than ten years ago it was a good bet to put your money in the bank. Not on deposit, stupid, but in owning the bank by being a shareholder. OK, there were a few that bit the dust – think Slater Walker, Barings and BCCI, none of which were proper banks, but the real banks paid great dividends and, although they no longer did it literally, printed money for their shareholders. Then it all went horribly wrong. Continue reading Money In The Bank

You Can Still Take A Horse To Water


Years ago I was invited to the Fountain Society summer party in the garden of a house in Chelsea. The society and its members were definitely posh, having the Prince of Wales as patron. Although they were posh, I was a bit drunk, after a leisurely lunch as a guest of Berry Bros. & Rudd. Anyway,  I have outlived the Fountain Society which has closed and donated its funds to the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association. It has been significantly outlived by another organisation much older than me.  Continue reading You Can Still Take A Horse To Water

When I Was Five

“A house in Kensington and £2,000 a year.” Sounds a bit like some thing from the pen of Muriel Spark, doesn’t it? Well, you’d have to sell the house these days. When I started in the City I never aspired to a residence in Kensington but I thought that I could jog along on £4,000 a year. We have all been robbed by inflation. The quote is from a film made in 1959, when I was five. Rather a good cast: Alec Guinness, Noël Coward, Maureen O’Hara, Burl Ives, Ralph Richardson and (uncredited and in a non-speaking role) John Le Mesurier.  Continue reading When I Was Five

Alms for Oblivion


This is the SOE Memorial on the south side of the Thames outside Lambeth Palace. It was unveiled in 2009 and the bust is of Violette Szabo. Last Sunday I attended a ceremony at which representatives from Norway, Serbia and our own armed services laid wreaths around the memorial. A contingent of cadets from the Air Training Corps were in attendance. They were a sloppy bunch – a proper shambles, as an RSM in the Brigade might put it. It gladdened my heart as there is no need for precision drill in the ATC and indeed one of my favourite authors joined the ATC as a schoolboy just because it was a soft option. Continue reading Alms for Oblivion