Juggling life through a bi-polar lens. Sometimes up, sometimes down. Mostly trying to tread water in the middle. Creating a likeness to a normal life. Whatever "normal" is...

Friday, 3 April 2009

A card for Gill, and memories of working in London...

A quicky for Gill, someone I worked with in the early 1990's. She commuted to London all the way to Worthing. Actually, she still does it! We keep in touch via Xmas and birthday cards, and the odd email. Some of them very odd indeed :)

....and the envelope:

We were at an investment bank called CIBC, near London Bridge.
We were in the stockbroking bit, doing settlements. This section had previously been an independent broker, but like many other small firms, it swallowed by a big bank.

There was an enormous gap between how broker staff worked and how bank staff worked. For example, we had always done unpaid overtime- if you needed to get it done, you stayed and did it. It was expected, in fact, it was written into your contract. It lead to a 'work ethic', if you like, but even under pressure the cameraderie was second to none :)

To the bank, though, if you did overtime this meant that you had messed about all day. Overtime meant you were doing something wrong. Having outlooks that were poles apart like this meant that brokers dreaded being taken over by banks, as we had very little respect for them! The saying was, that 'banker' was Cockney rhyming slang ;)

Some of us rode in the London to Brighton Bike Ride each year. The bank insisted that T-Shirts with 'CIBC' on them were worn. So we told people that it stood for "Canvey Island Bike Club" (rather than Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce).

On the ride to Brighton our team took the train from London Bridge and were on the beach setting up a barbecue long before anyone else arrived :)

When the Stock Exchange arranged for a rounders league, our team turned up in jeans with a crate of Becks Beer, while the banking section came along in team-liveried shorts and tops, doing group warm-ups. Ugh! They make me gringe just to think of it. LOL!!!!

It was fun for a while but once CIBC had our business and our training and procedures, the entire department was made redundant en masse.
-A pattern repeated many times.

In 1992 I had three redundancies. I had 5 over the course of my time in the city, 1986-1997. Hence I feel for those being affected this time around. Kind of ironic that it's the big banks who are feeling it bad this time. I can't say 'good!' because some of the brokers swallowed up are still in there, somewhere.

It's a shame that the big banks were ever allowed to take over the small brokers. One that I had worked for, Kitkat & Aitken, had been trading since the early 19th century. Then along came the Royal Bank of Canada and snapped us up..... within 4 years no sign of Kitkat remained. No notice was ever given for redundancy. I began work on a Friday as normal, and got my P45 at lunchtime. Some people found their redundancy notices on the doormat when they got home from holiday.

Banks got too big and therefore too powerful. A lot of people suffered along the way, and look what it led to.....

Thanks to people like Gill though, I still have good memories of those days :)


The Crafty Goat Girl said...

Hi Helena, such a lovely card for your friend, thanks for sharing your memories however tough they are, they make us who we are. Heidi xxx

To Visit My said...
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Angel said...

That is a sweet card. Having just been encouraged into retirement (retire or get terminated), I understand your bitter sweet memories.

Poopsie aka Blue said...

Hi Helena!

Sorry not been around - its been a bad week all round.


mrsnesbitt said...

wonderful, she will be thrilled. I wouldn't like to be working in the bank industry right now.

Julie said...

Yay! Canvey Island! I used to live on Canvey Island and my Mum is still there. I learnt to swim off Canvey beach :o)

You certainly had a difficult time at work but thank goodness it brought you good friendships. I was lucky enough never to be made redundant during my working life. It was not short of its own stresses tho and I was glad to get out. It is the personal side of the present turmoil that we don't always think about. Thank you for reminding us that people are suffering too.

Helena said...

THanks for the comments everyone :) (apart from the spammer that I removed!!!)