THE METROPOLITANS — Episode Eighteen

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A saga of everyday life in the Big L and a wry look at contemporary culture

 

Episode Eighteen

 

Previously for The Metropolitans.

Dancy, a fund manager at SilverRock Partners and in a live-in relationship with Quinn Harcourt-Smithers, the daughter of the Chairman of the Conservative Party, has followed Rocco, his mentor’s instruction and done a trade reversal to boost their new Arab client’s return at the expense of another client.

Dancy was recruited for his math skills and ability to create complex algorithms that are used to decide on investment policy. His mentor at SilverRock, Rocco Moretti is an old hand from Wall Street and has been schooling him in how to manage clients and investments. Through their efforts, SilverRock has recently got a mandate from Abu Dhabi, its first ever investment from the Middle East.

The SilverRock story continues…

 

‘Do you have a moment?’

Dancy looked up from his workstation. He recognised Herb, the Middle Office manager. What do you want? You usually turn up when someone’s screwed up. ‘Of course.’

Herb found a chair and pulled it over and sat down next to his desk.

‘How can I help?’ As if I’d walk the extra mile for you. You’re only here to make my life difficult.

‘I need some clarification on a trade.’ He pulled out a sheet from a folder he held in his hand. ‘It was a reversal you did last month.’ I don’t recall any reversal. My report shows all trades completed normally.

‘Sorry?’

‘Well, there’s a transaction for the Abu Dhabi account that was made from TRSL. That’s highly unusual. We don’t back out trades like that.’

‘I don’t recall that one off hand.’ Crap. He’s found the transfer. Rocco, you said no one would notice.

‘It happened at the start of June. I’ve only just discovered it when we ran a reconciliation.’ He passed over the sheet of paper in his hand. ‘Perhaps this will help you remember.’

Dancy took it and carefully read the page. It was a printout of the switch he’d done. It even had Françoise’s ID on it. I thought no one would question it. That’s what Rocco said. What do I tell him?

He passed the paper back. ‘We’d screwed up when putting the Dhabi money to work. We put too much into TRSL by mistake and not enough Dhabi money in and I had to correct that. I’m sure you know, the Dhabi account is new, and we’ve rushed to invest the money. Mistakes are inevitable.’ It’s bulls**t but perhaps you’ll buy it, eh?

‘It’s not normal to transfer funds from one client to another.’

‘What should I have done then?’ Come on, just drop it. The amount is chicken feed. No?

‘You should have consulted me before you did anything.’ Rocco told me to do it. Why don’t you talk to him?

‘I was just trying to correct the error.’

Herb nodded. ‘Thanks for being frank with me about the trade.’ He got to his feet before waving the paper in the air. ‘You know I’ll have to report this at the next compliance meeting. If you’ve screwed up, it’ll not look good.’ Oh thanks. I can see why they call you The Enforcer.

‘It was just making good a transaction error.’ Don’t make a big deal of this, OK?

‘I’m sure it’s just that.’ Herb picked up the chair and returned it to where he had found it. You’re like that, aren’t you?

Dancy watched him leave. He sat gazing at his screens a moment. Eventually, he picked up his mobile and dialled Rocco. He could hear the line connect and begin to ring.

‘Dancy, me man. What’s up?’

‘The markets are weird. It’s off the scale. It’s as if it was the calm before the storm. Some panic about the new tariffs. It seems the US-China trade war is hotting up.’

He heard Rocco laugh. ‘Listen, kid, this ain’t no big deal.’ There was a pause. ‘I can see your analysis. Red everywhere, eh?’

‘That’s it. Shouldn’t we be getting out?’

‘When it flips, boyo. For the moment, we’re in for the ride. Yah know, it reminds me of the dotcom bubble. We stay in until it bursts, buddy.’

‘There’s another thing. Herb came to see me just now.’

‘Whatda he want?’

‘It’s about the switch from TRSL. He was questioning me about it.’

‘Gotcha.’ There was a pause. ‘Now listen. Don’t go busting your bucket over this. It’s his job. I’ll talk to Frank.’

‘I know…but he seemed mighty peeved about it.’

‘Yeah, he’s a pain in the arse. Those compliance guys are killing our business. Best we keep this low key and I’ll square it with Frank when I’m next over.’

‘When’s that?’

‘Not sure. But listen, kid, talk to that Frenchie chick and make sure she doesn’t say anything to Herb. Got it?’

‘Yes. Any reason?’

‘Herb’s SOB and I don’t wanna let him have bullets.’

‘Bullets?’

‘Gee, kid, for someone’s who’s supposed to be bright, you can be quite stupid at times, can’t yah? You know ammunition. Stuff to get at us. Herb’s got a real chip on his shoulder. He just loves to have us crawling to him with our tail between our legs. Now, you talk to that Parisian dame, OK?’

‘Sure.’ How do I explain this to Françoise?

‘And keep sending me your analyses. Sometime soon, this whole market gonna blow big time. And, baby, will it go. Bye.’ The line went dead.

Dancy closed the connection and sat back. Talk to Françoise. Easier said than done.

He got up and walked around the office. Julian, one of the other analysts looked up questionably as he passed. Dancy ignored his gaze.

He made his way back to his desk and then he called Françoise.

‘Hi.’ She’s got a sweet lilt to her voice.

‘Listen, would you like to have a coffee? I need to talk to you.’

‘I’ll pick up two from the kitchen and be over. Do you like sugar?’

‘I was thinking we could go to Runnels. It’s just around the corner.’ You’ve been there, surely?

‘Now?’

‘Well, yes.’ Perhaps we shouldn’t leave together—in case it gets back to Herb. ‘I’ll see you there in ten minutes.’ There was no answer. ‘Françoise?’

‘Sorry. Just checking if I could get away from my desk for a bit.’ He could hear her tapping on her keyboard. ‘There’s not much trading today, so it should be OK.’

‘I’ll meet you there. What should I order for you?’

‘An Americano with hot milk.’

‘Great. See you soon.’

Dancy locked down his workstation and headed for the door.

London was experiencing another of those hot summer days. The heat radiated off the pavement as he headed for the coffee bar. It was not particularly busy, and he was able to order and get his drinks.

There was no Françoise.

Carrying them them in each hand he made his way over to a sofa and set them down on the coffee table in front of it. He sat down. Is it bad manners for me to sip my coffee before she arrives? He took a sip. Ah! Columbian, just as I like it.

He glanced up. Françoise was standing looking at him quizzically.

‘You’re here.’ That’s dumb. Of course, she’s here. ‘You made good time.’

‘It’s quiet, as I said.’ She sat down next to him. She surveyed the room then picked up her coffee and smelled it. ‘American-style coffee. You know the French consider it sacrilegious to make coffee this way.’

‘I didn’t know.’ So why are you drinking an Americano? ‘I’m sure they’d have made you a French coffee. If you want, I can get you another one.’

She grinned at him. ‘Thank you for the offer, but I am quite happy to drink this.’ She held up the cup before she put it to her lips and tasted the brew. ‘Hum. Very good, just as I like it.’

‘I’m glad you like it.’

She put the cup down again. ‘But you know, while simple to make, Americanos are easily spoiled. The barista has it just right.’ She gave him a winsome smile. ‘But I’m sure we’re not here just to discuss the coffee. Are you asking I join another of those business dinners? The last one was most enjoyable.’ No, I wasn’t. It’s more complicated.

‘It’s not about that… But if you are willing to endure another of those evenings, I’m sure one will come up soon.’ I normally ask Quinn but I’m sure she won’t mind dipping out. It’s not as if she enjoys them. Françoise did seem in her element when meeting clients.

‘So not another invite to the Dorchester. Too bad.’

‘Well, not yet, at any rate.’ He took a sip of his coffee. How should I put this? ‘Herb came to see me earlier. It’s about a reversal I asked you to do last month.’

‘I know the one. Herb asked me about it this morning.’ Oh crap! This complicates things.

‘What did you say?’

‘I told him to talk to you.’ Françoise, you’re a marvel.

‘Is that all?’

‘Of course.’ She grinned and then patted his knee. ‘You’ve been a naughty boy and have been caught out.’ What’s she on about?

‘What?’

She looked surprised at his reaction. ‘I was just joking.’ Were you? What do you know about the trade? What have you told Herb?

‘Herb is not funny.’

‘You are right. As far as I know, he’s the least funny person at SilverRock.’

‘You think so?’

‘Can you think of anyone else? The man has the emotions of a gargoyle.’ She giggled. You’re lovely when you laugh, did you know that?

‘Well, if he asks again about the trade, please tell him to talk to me.’

‘Of course.’ She winked at him. ‘And I expect an invitation to the Dorchester.’ I’m sure that will come soon enough.

‘Fair dinkum.’

 

*   *   *

 

‘To Checkers.’ Mary gazed around her office. Is there anything I’ve forgotten? Her eyes wandered to the portrait of Margaret Thatcher above her desk. I’d like to take you with me. But I suppose you’ll just have to keep watch here in my absence. She noticed Des grinning at her.

‘To checkers, then.’

‘Are you making a pun there, Des?’

‘Now, would I dare such a thing.’ He came over and held her hand. ‘This gathering is important isn’t it?’

‘Des, you’ve no idea.’ She pulled her hand away from him. ‘You don’t have to deal with a bunch of whining Remoaners on one side and barrelling Brexiters on the other. I feel I’m the piggy in the middle of the Third English Civil War.’

‘Hold on a minute! What of Scotland?’

‘Oh, they’re modern-day Covenanters. All dour and intransigent. You should be glad you don’t have to deal with Kirsty Wrasse. She’s intolerable and so smug. That “History is on our side. Scotland shall be independent” stuff from the first minister. Appalling. You know, Labour made a fatal mistake giving Scotland its own parliament. A thorn in my side.’

‘You bear a heavy burden.’

‘You have heard me curse the whole lot, haven’t you?’ Des looked at her meaningfully. ‘I don’t know what you know of what I have to do to get Brexit sorted. Time’s running out.’ He smirked.’ It’s all right for you, you’re happy running your plumbing business.’

‘Well, someone’s got to keep it flowing.’ He grinned.

She glared at him. ‘You may enjoy running your business but sometimes I feel like throwing it all in. Let someone else square the circle—or whatever cliché covers the split. See how they’d like dealing with Bernard, and Christoph, and Rees-Mogg and his ilk, and…’ Oh, why bother listing them. Every single MP, every single civil servant, but everyone has a different opinion on where we should end up next March. She sighed. But I have been put in charge and I’ll see it through. It’s my Brexit!

‘I could bring along a bit of pipe as a persuader.’

Mary burst out laughing. ‘Sometimes, Des, you hit the nail on the head.’

‘Actually, I was thinking more of nailing heads.’ He marched over to the side cabinet and pulled it open to reveal the drinks inside. ‘How about a little tot to sooth the nerves before the big event? A sherry, perhaps?’ He held up a bottle.

‘I don’t think so, Des. I don’t think I should rely on Dutch courage.’

‘After Brexit, I think we’ll need to stop calling it that. Perhaps it should be Remoaner Relief?’

‘Surely that would be a pair of noise-cancelling headphones?’

‘Would you like some for your birthday?’

‘Don’t bother, Des. I’d never use them.’ I can’t see myself cutting myself off from the cut and thrust of politics. Besides, with all the intrigue going on, I need to keep my ears to the ground. That reminds me, I haven’t heard from Harcourt-Smithers recently. Is he up to something? Mental note to self: contact Andrew H-S.

Desmond poured himself a measure of whisky and closed the cabinet door before sauntering over to the sofa and sitting down. He patted at the place next to him. She shook her head. No, Des, not now. We’re about to leave.

‘So, what happens if you can’t get a united cabinet?’

‘I’ll have a disunited cabinet. Perhaps someone will resign. I really have no idea.’ Yes, a resignation would be exciting. I’d be able to dangle a post before the hungry hordes. Show them who is in charge. ‘But I can tell you this; it’s going to be bloody.’

There was a knock at the door.

‘Come in.’

Andrew opened the door and pocked his head in, keeping his hand on the doorknob. ‘PM, I thought you’d want to know. Your car is here to take you to Checkers.’

‘Lead on Macduff.’

 

To be continued…

 

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious.

Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

 

 

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