Fair Game

They swagger, these gifts of the gods
Draped in Savile Row
Handmade brogues squeaking
Signalling their advance
Sleek terminals flashing green and red
The latest billions to be made
Orchestrated by one perfectly manicured digit
A rarefied world, this domain of the trader
Tiger women diluting the testosterone just enough
To become the next female BSD.
(I don’t have the balls
In all senses of the word).
They all walk and talk a good game
Ride the highs and lows with aplomb
Possessing animalistic grace, a certain panache
Revelling in the glory, drowning the losses in Moët & Chandon
Or inside their bonus-bought classic car
Seats rubbed smooth with 90mph sex and cocaine
Shagging the pressure away in a City side street.
Rare beasts, these,
Stalking, hunting down that one trade
Chasing mammon, winner takes all
But I wonder, when it comes down to it
When I see those who drew the short straw
Carrying their belongings in a cardboard box
Incongruously shabby against their Cartier adornments
Leaving their ivory tower for the last time
Facing down the cameras as journalists hunt in packs
Trading titillation for the headline news
I wonder – do they think it was worth it, after all?


This week, Brian, our host at dVerse Meeting the Bar wants us to consider character – something more akin to penning short stories and novels, rather than poetry. Fabulous! I love a challenge!

My take is all about that much-maligned character, the City trader. I have worked in the Square Mile since last century (no, really!) and have met and seen a few in my time. Some are as bad as the press paints them, many are not. All of them have guts, that’s for sure! I haven’t based my poem on anyone in particular – consider it an amalgamation of many traits I have seen (in traders and other types) over the years.

I hope you enjoy my offering – and please do join us! The hosts all work extremely hard to make the community a success.

38 thoughts on “Fair Game

  1. oy. you def paint them well…i like the allusion to tigers…the prowl…the swagger they def got it….i worked in banking and its a rough world…with the money comes trade offs that for me in the end was just not worth it….

    1. Thank you, Brian. I work on the legal and compliance side of things (although many moons ago I was offered the chance to go down the trading route!), and my work environment is a world away from that… way beyond my comfort zone! 🙂

    1. I guess it depends on what is important to you as a person. The problem is, it is way too easy to get hooked on the adrenalin, or the importance that a person derives from their job as being a validation of his or her self-worth… Wow, that’s a bit deep for a Friday lunchtime! Thank you for reading, Kathryn.

  2. I suspect those who still think it was worth it are carrying a boatload of bucks home in that cardboard box–the ones with picture frames holding photos of their rarely-seen kids, maybe not so much.

  3. Wow — you nailed it, darling. Such decadence! It reminded me of Bret Easton Ellis’ descriptions of ’80s opulence in American Psycho. Brilliant.

    1. Thank you, Michael. I’ve had a few episodes in my life where I’ve wondered the same (never as a City trader!), and I’ve found that if I can learn a lesson, develop as a person, then it’s not all in vain.

    1. Yes, thankfully there are always those who manage to retain intact personally. I don’t think it’s a career for an older man/woman (not the really high pressure trading, anyway).

  4. The poem was like a movie – you showed us the character very well and to enhance it, you let us feel a bit of that person who drew the short straw, who gambled and lost, forced to leave in disgrace. The lows of the high life, I suppose. Well done.

  5. You are describing what I see in movies or read in a newspaper. I would never survive, not even as a witness on the sideline to this type of life. I know a lot of people live like this so it obviously has its compensations.You have not opted for life in the slow lane (almost reaching to a halt lane) in the South Pacific as a surfie chick so there must be some very exciting aspects not excluding great monetary reward that keeps you firing:)

    1. I wonder too. These days, time spent just ‘being’ is almost considered a waste by some. What a shame – for it is the spaces inbetween that allow us to regenerate, I think.

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