Alastair's Blog

Return to:  Blog | Articles | Videos RSS feed

A day in the life of a (crap) City trader

Posted on 11 September 2009 | 5:09pm

Was it Atticus Finch who said don’t judge a man until you have tried to walk in his shoes? Or was he just quoting someone from the Bible, or from Shakespeare, who said pretty much everything there was to be said, long before The Beatles said all had been said before?

Whoever it was, it came to mind as I tried my best to follow instructions in closing a deal on a City trading floor this morning. It was a day given over to charity, in which the deals being done at Canary Wharf were raising money for a number of good causes, among them Leukaemia Research.

There were lots of famous faces wandering around promoting their chosen charities, and lots of City traders trying to help us. I have a horrible feeling though that I sold a lot of Euros I think the trader was asking me to buy. And when I was on the phone next to Alex Ferguson, who was there for Multiple Sclerosis, I’m sure the guy on the other end of the phone thought he was buying Wayne Rooney. Given the noise when they’re all shouting the odds, it is a wonder to me anyone knows what they’re buying.

Rory Bremner was clearly collecting lots of material for future attacks on the financial sector. ‘It’s like nothing has changed,’ he opined. Carol Vorderman was showing off her mathematical skills. My fellow Leukaemia Research rep Jade Johnson was being asked for inside info by the traders on who she thought would win Strictly Come Dancing.

‘Do you bet on it?’ I asked.

‘We bet on everything,’ he said. ‘That’s what we do here.’ Thank God Rory Bremner had moved on.

Kenny Dalglish wandered in, so I could warn him of his team’s pending defeat against Burnley tomorrow. Martin Johnson and Jason Leonard were there flying the flag for rugby, Darren Campbell for athletics. Geoff Hurst, Jonathan Ross, Cherie on her way this afternoon, quite a good turnout, I’d say.

The financial sector has taken a bit of a battering, not least reputationally. Today showed another side to them. And as for my Atticus Finch point, whatever skills I have, they do not lend themselves to being a very good City floor trader. Looking at the screens gave me a headache. Trying to work out what all the shouts meant made it worse.

While I’m on Leukaemia Research duty, I will be tweeting regularly between now and Sunday October 18 on our Evening with Stephen Fry at the Criterion theatre in London that evening. Tickets both for the reception and the event are going fast. 0207 405 0101 or More details to follow.

This is our third such event – Mel Brooks and Michael Palin did the first two – and Stephen maintains that top drawer quality for what will be a great evening.

On my other Leukaemia Research campaign – trying to get 50 donations of 50k for our 50th anniversary – Jade Johnson said she will dance with anyone who coughs up. Having had a very brief twirl with her, I would say it’d be worth every penny.

  • @jlocke13

    to be a good floor trader you need quick wits,a nimble brain and a carefree manner… should suit you really…. good luck with your fundraising

  • Mark B

    “You never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them.” Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

  • Terry Evans

    Name dropper (again). I bet it was great fun and all in a good cause. Good luck.

  • Helene Pearson

    Yes to Stephen Fry tickets … I think he’s great.

  • Trevor Malcolm, Portsmouth Hampshire

    Overjoyed to see comments posted on your blog attempting to rise above the pots and kettles, peddling the latest bitchy trivia on David Cameron

    More so, to have you replace him by alluding to distinguished actor, Gregory Peck. His character portrayal in the 1962 Oscar-winning film, To Kill A Mockingbird, of the protagonist Atticus Finch, lawyer in the Depression-era South, defending a coloured gentleman against an undeserved charge of rape, and his children against racial prejudice, the perfect example of racial heroism

    Just as the film credits for “All In The Mind” will include the words, “ … based on a novel by Mind Champion 2009, Alastair Campbell …” – so too, if you watch the credits roll, you’ll see the film, To Kill A Mockingbird, that too was based on Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, of the same title

    Here’s the bit that worries me. That’s the ONLY novel Harper Lee’s ever published. Preferring to stay put in her hometown of Monroeville in Alabama, she’s even refused point-blank and repeatedly to comment on her novel, her work or herself since 1964: that’s over the past 45 years. Without peeping behind-the-scenes for the background detail, some might find that odd behaviour, for someone thrown centre-stage, into the glare of the spotlight

    Or maybe just another case of “creative malady” – but the list continues to lengthen: Charles Darwin, Florence Nightingale, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill

    Now, how soon before someone dares to admit the current Prime Minister’s name, Gordon Brown, belongs among them?

    Okay, if his specialists wish to update their psychiatric andy medical jargon to “psychologically-flawed, treatment-resistant clinical depression”, fine by me

    But they have to do more than label the condition, feed its symptoms with MAOIs. Or check if the Prime Minister is suffering from a profoundly-daft “vitamin P deficiency” – (he’s not swallowing enough SSRIs to make him feel better) – like the anti-depressant capsules, P-P for Paxil (Seroxat) and the famous P-P for Prozac, especially as these have been allegedly tried, but failed to deliver him improvement or result

    It’s shaming to think the incessant whispered twitterings around Westminster wouldn’t crescendo into an all-out-in-the-open volume, long before now

    Strikes me if you all continue dithering and “looking the other way” then within months, you’ll have a lot more than how shallow and prissy that David Cameron really is

    Better to tackle the bigger problems first, as urgent priority, I’d say

    Trevor Malcolm



  • Trevor Malcolm, Portsmouth Hampshire

    Winner Alastair Campbell: Nearly Another First –

    This time in Iain Dale’s Total Politics Annual Blog Poll 2009


    SATURDAY, first thing in the morning, and may we all be among the first to congratulate you, sir, on your success in the Total Politics Annual Blog Poll awards, just announced?

    The prizes Mr Dale will be handing out to the “winners” are likely to seem beneath your status and reputation, so you’ll be grateful you came no higher than fourth place in the Blog Poll

    Just missing out on what the top three means there’s no “pro bono” Acceptance Speech you’re obliged to write, this time

    Still, nothing like abit of good, old-fashioned fun. To illustrate, judging from the look in your eyes as you smile into the eyes of the fit and athletic-looking, Ms Jade Johnson, of Leukaemia Research, (in the photo of you both manning the phones in aid of fundraising), well, looks like you’ve got more pressing pleasures on your mind, so who’d give a toss about blog poll results?

    Had you shown that Mr John Prescott a photo of Ms Johnson and promised him she secretly yearned for him to ask her to dance, (but make sure Prescott stumps up the cash donation, first), then he wouldn’t feel half as miserable finding out his Go Fourth blog didn’t “go fourth” – yours did. In fact, his efforts crawled in at fifteenth position, limping wounded. That poor sod, he “Went Fifteenth” – that’d be just behind the Raving Loonie Party

    Also, you can see how the three candidates placed above you in the results, are all intent on interacting more directly with guests who visit their blogs. Especially those leaving thoughtful or provocative comment, before departure

    Guess that ruse makes their supporters feel more valued, their contributions genuinely appreciated, like saying “thank you for comin’ by …” A more satisfying experience all round

    At least, better than left a-wondering, does anybody even READ this comment stuff, anyway?

    Trevor Malcolm



  • Jonathan explains it all

    “Before you criticise someone walk a mile in their shoes – that way, when you criticise them, you are a mile away and you’ve got their shoes.”

  • Iain Gill

    there would be a lot more city workers if we had not flooded the country with workers from the 3rd world on “inter company transfer” visas bypassing the work visa system and throwing hundreds of thousands of europeans out of work, quite how europeans are supposed to compete with 3rd world nationals prepared to work for nothing and sleep 4 to a room? charity?, the very nerve of it

  • olli issakainen

    Read from The Official Site of Liverpool FC that you will be at Anfield. Happily the game is on Finnish tv, too. I hope that Kevin McDonald and Guerrero or Eagles start along with Nugent as after Chelsea we need more speed and power.