When I worked in the City there was nothing as appalling as the unremitting horror that I felt on the last day of my summer holiday.
I’d be lying around a pool at some Ibizan finca staring into the middle distance, unable to comprehend the hideous reality that I was about to face. My sangria would be left warming up in the afternoon sun and my holiday doorstopper book would be left unread. Communication was virtually impossible and my girlfriend would know that nothing on this sweet earth could relieve me of my despicable depression.
If the holiday had been any good (and they usually were) then I would have received a sharp reminder of what life was really about. I would have ridden a motorbike topless on dusty tracks and eaten tiger prawns to the sound of gentle waves lapping at the shoreline. I would have danced the light fantastic under a moonlit sky and swam in warm azure waters. Everything tasted better, everything smelt better and everything felt better.
On that last day of the holiday I knew that all this joy was going to end. I knew that I faced months of grey drudgery in a grey country with grey people. Instead of days spent waking up whenever I wanted to, making love and lying around in the sun, I’d be doing virtually nothing I wanted to be doing. I’d be getting up two hours earlier than my body wanted to. I’d be commuting to and from a soulless place surrounded by other depressed drones. I’d be sucking up to arrogant, humourless clients and trading macho banter with aggressive traders. The fact that some of my fellow stockbrokers seemed to enjoy their job merely rubbed salt into my all too raw wounds.
The only thing that provided any solace was the thought that I’d soon be having another escape from this despicable crap. If I had foolishly used up all my holiday allowance come September, then the depression was even more pronounced. I knew that I faced many months of relentless winter drizzle, stomach-knotting stress and disturbed sleep.
Bob Dylan defined success as ‘doing what you want to do from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep’. Most people in the City think they’re successful but when you work twelve hours a day, forty seven weeks a year, you rarely do what you want to do.
Although many City workers plan to only do their job for perhaps ten years so they can go off and really start living like the relaxed travellers and happy locals they saw on the beach, few actually achieve this. They simply waste the best years of their lives trapped in a pointless job sleepwalking to death.
The system has conned them and, on that last day of their holiday, there will be a tear welling in their eye as this horrifying realisation sinks in.
Geraint Anderson (37, two years retired).
‘Geraint Anderson is the author of Cityboy – Beer and Loathing in the Square Mile.’ You can visit his website here.