What are you upto these days ?

You meet them in the most obvious of places, and yet it never crosses your mind ( after over twenty one years anyway ) that you might meet anyone you once knew until of course, it’s too late; then it was, you conclude, inevitable all along.

We studied the same course at University, and given his easy countenance washed down with an air of superiority, I quickly came to the conclusion that he had left that Bohemian life behind - that he had made it in as far as he had climbed that corporate ladder with his head in the clouds rather than up his arse, where, for the four years we had studied together, his head was always to be found.

Now there is always an acute sense of dissatisfaction in knowing that the person you so disliked has become successful. Of course he would claim jealously on my part, and he’d probably be correct, except the green eyed monster wasn’t reflected in those who had also succeeded, even surpassed, and whom I had warmed to during the years before they had made it.

There we was, Mr Successful, in 3D, when 1D would have been too much, bathing in his success, indifferent to my hopes and dreams that had forgotten how to swim a long time ago.

When he asked me ‘’what I was doing’’ I knew this wasn’t how well I was doing, but how well he was doing in respect to myself.

Had any physical blow hurt as much as the question that jumped out of his mouth like a jack out of a box.

My position was weak – a few advancing pawns that playfully watched over his knight, as his rook and bishop threatened to check my king.

I looked like I had woken up - in the dark; got dressed - in the dark; with clothes I couldn’t be sure were mine - in the dark.

If there was one person I didn’t want to see, it was him. Whether I was a successful businessman running a chain of brothels across the North of England, or living in the woods with a silver birch as my best friend, he was the one person I didn’t want to know.

The fact that I have this dreadful illness, and the fact that I knew he would be the sort of man who would be a believer – in the PACE trial that is, only aggravated my sense of injustice to the point that, I was no longer in full control. It felt at that moment, he had taken control of the wheel, he was in charge, and he was the one determining how this conversation would travel, where we would end up, and how I would feel at the end of it.

I thought about telling him I was unwell, that I only had six months to live. It was only a fleeting transmission, but it flashed across my perambulatory thoughts long enough to afford me an immeasurable degree of pleasure in knowing that in exacting such a course of action, I would render him defenceless to the point of falling into a gaping hole, relieved at being swallowed up.

But i couldn’t do that. Or perhaps I could, but I had a better idea. I was an investment banker at JP Morgan London, along Canary Wharf, with my own trading desk, and coffee machine and everything. I even had my name on the door, and that door wasn’t to be found outside the toilet.

The look of disappointment that stretched across his face; the shock, the disbelief, and the jealously spoke to me in a language I cannot translate. My pawns were quickly advancing, my bishop and knight were only a few moves away from his king. That his shock and disbelief might have had more to do with my dishevelled clothes, my incongruous dress sense, and the fact that I looked more likely to change the bins than change his mind, never crossed my thoughts.

Now I might have been able to pull it off, but I couldn’t stop. I told him I was moving to New York next year and i’d been offered a position at Goldman sacks to work in bonds and derivatives and things.

And so it went on. I had a flat in London, and holidayed in Berlin - where my yacht was.

I had him, just before I check mated, I ask him ‘’what he was doing’’.

Oh the joy. Head down, his face buried in his laptop i-pad thingy. I almost felt sorry for him..... but the joy took over again.

Silence ensued.

‘’JP Morgan, you say ? It’s just that I have no record of you working for us, and the London office you describe, is mine’’.


If I'm out & about in a rare visit to a pub, I'll say Independent financial Adviser, my o d job. It usually kills the conversation quickly.

Blog entry information

Last update

More entries in User Blogs

More entries from Quilp