Friday, 26 December 2014

Relationships and money - friends or enemies

Relationships and money
friends or enemies


I am an old-fashioned girl with classical values like marriage, loyalty and a little black dress. I was brought up in the family where parents were faithful and loved each other till death parted them. That set the best example for me and I always assumed that’s how all couples should be – happy and in love, just like my mum and dad were.

As I started navigating my career through London, I realised that what my parents had was no longer a norm – they were a pleasant exception in the society that was moving fast and relaxing its standards even faster. Loyalty was no longer fashionable, cupid became worldly, and even the little black dress evolved past all the boundaries of propriety.

Not that I was thinking about it on that rainy Friday morning, but when I got to the office I found a message from my colleague. He was asking me if I could look after this VIP who was supposed  to use our office for a couple of hours first thing in the morning.

The said VIP showed up almost immediately. He was charming, wealthy and very hungover. I’ve met his type before – experts at smart investments and cashing in at the right time, they are also very skilled at bed hopping.

Used to dealing with pretentious rich capitalists, I settled him down at a desk in front of me and fixed him up with a coffee and a large paracetamol. He was one of those extroverts who couldn’t stop talking, even with a pounding headache. Within half an hour I knew that he had three kids, two dogs and more money than sense.

There was also a Mrs VIP who was a lady of leisure. She didn’t trust him for a minute on his own and he was strangely proud of it. I knew that after three kids and two dogs there was only one reason for a woman not to trust her man. He had a history of double dipping and was caught and his pants around his ankles more times than he cared to remember.  (If I had a pound for every man I knew with a similar story…)

He told me that to clear out his playground, he sent her to Miami on his private jet to catch up with her sorority gals. The trip was mainly about designer shopping, sipping cocktails and lusting after a pool boy. In fact, he was certain they weren’t just lusting... But in his own words – what he didn’t know couldn’t hurt him.

“Do you trust her?” – I ventured. There was a pause. I couldn’t be sure if he was thinking or battling the next wave of nausea and headache. “Yes, I guess I do” - he finally managed. “But you just said what you don’t know…” - I began. “Oh please, pool boys don’t count” - he interrupted and waved my comment off.

Like many other City men he was all about money. He called for his chauffeur and while waiting, he showed me pictures of the the new penthouse he had just bought in Kensington. He asked if I had any plans for that weekend, I told him I was fully booked.

When he left, he was still hungover and still looking for trouble. And as I watched him leaving the office (but not before he blew me a kiss and winked at me) I couldn’t help but wonder, in the world of the City and wealth, did we evolve past loyalty and faithfulness? Did the value of money become more than the value of relationships?

With my thoughts I immersed myself into spreadsheets and bank statements. I found a discrepancy and went to my boss’ office to ask if he knew anything about it. I entered his office as he was just finishing a phone call with his wife. ‘Bye darling, have a good day’, - his voice resonated across the room.

My boss is an old school gentleman. Kemble and Oxford graduate, he married his university sweetheart. A few years later he came into a substantial inheritance which he promptly invested filling up his bank accounts with more money than he bargained for.

Two kids, one dog and way too many cars later he stayed exactly where he was all those years ago – true to his values and in love.

I smiled. Maybe there is a hope for us yet. Or maybe, just like my parents, he is an exception.