The Bad Beginning: Part 1
Hello. My name is George. You may or may not know me, but if you want to read about a journey of self-discovery, one filled with stories from around the world, some of love and loss, others of ambition and depression: you’ve come to the right place.
I believe that within my writing, you will find parts of yourself at every turn. I am not ashamed to speak with you in full honesty: this is the cornerstone on which I have built my life, and I hope you will find this heartening in a world where the real and fake have now blended so seamlessly. They coalesce so brilliantly into one and the same that the distinction is almost imperceptible…and the difference almost negligible.
Sat in Costa Coffee, Canary Wharf, there is no more appropriate moment for me to begin.
Two years ago, I was a banker. An intern: but still a banker. I worked in this epicentre of this financial district, for Barclays Wealth. Number 1 Churchill Place is where I spent my day.
Day in, day out I would take the tube to work, like a rat through a tunnel, in search of food…’to bring home the bacon’ as they say. Little did I know that the bacon I sought was not the kind we commonly associate with this expression. It was not a financial goal I had deep down, but an emotional hole I was looking to fill.
We live in a world that tells us financial gain is equivalent to success; which in turn is equivalent to happiness. A job at Barclays, earning in excess of £2400 a month at the age of 21 should have made me a very happy man. And everyone thought I was.
I could buy what I wanted, for whomever I wanted.
My mother could tell all her friends that I worked in the City.
My father could say he inspired my career (as a banker himself).
But I wasn’t happy: I was miserable.
Every day I would get up at 6.30am and make my way towards an office in which I felt entirely out of place.
In my deep-red suit, I stood out like an island within a sea of blue, grey and black. It seems there was a dress code that I had not been informed of. A code of conduct I had not read. A way of life I was yet to dread.
This island was about to go under. Drowned by societal convention — but not lost forever. In fact, it was to become an underwater sanctuary, a land without limits: Atlantis, if you will.
I had chosen to join the new department at Barclays, ‘Wealth Direct’. A mobile app on a mission…
“To help individuals invest for themselves: instead of paying people to invest on their behalf.”
I was in love. Barclays wanted to help people fulfil their own desires, save their cash and, in fact, earn more! Perhaps this was my calling. There was just one, seemingly insignificant, problem: Barclays has an entire department dedicated to investing on behalf of individuals…known as the Private Bankers.
These men were sharks — I say men, because I did not encounter a single female in the time I spent with them. They want your money, and that is that. They don’t care who you are, they don’t care where you’re from: they just want to play with your funds. Gamble your life savings, in the hope that they can make a profit…but then again — even if they didn’t, they would get paid regardless.
Now, interdepartmental conflict is not uncommon in a large corporation, but this was my first experience of its ugly nature: and I was stuck right in the middle of it.
If only I were stuck in the middle with you…
This post forms the first part of a greater story of epiphany and tragedy. If you would like to keep up to date, follow me here. If you aren’t interested in seeking wisdom outside of the bubble within which you exist…then sod off!
I joke...but not really.