8 Feb 2009

Post 104:Some thoughts on a couple of books

I have just bade farewell to some of my favourite people, the Betts' (Ian, Sharon and their toddler Oliver as per 3rd photo down in post 83) and the Tennants (Toby who was Ian's best man and seems to be psychokinetically linked to his sense of humour, Faye and their toddlette, Isla) after they took me out for a lovely lunch (at the Bear where else?) Now, I could go on for hours about what fantastic people they are (because they simply are) or how lovely Sharon and Faye are and how lucky their respective husbands are but that's for another time because I've been thinking about the subject of todays post for a little while.
Recently, I discovered something that has helped occupy me/pass the time much more effectively than watching TV, which isn't intellectually stimulating and worse still watching TV seems to be exhausting for someone with my kind of brain injury, and before anyone says or thinks it's sleeping, it's not that! I have mentioned it before, it is listening to digital audiobooks that I download from a great website called They're a bit more costly than regular books (which I can't work out why) but they have added another dimension to my fairly one dimensional excuse for an existence. I am no stranger to audiobooks, in fact when I had my own room in hospital I used to listen to the CD ones ever since the stroke robbed me of good enough eyesight to read books and the manual dexterity to hold a book, let alone turn the pages. I got put off CD audiobooks for several reasons:
1.The packaging. Removal of this was often (not always) Mission: Difficult if not impossible with one hand.
2.Reading the Numbers on the CDs was no picnic with my eyesight.
3.Changing CDs with my lack of coordination and my associated fatigue was more often than not, a fiddle or a mission, particularly if the CD player was not at arms length, changing a disc sometimes necessitated an exhausting and dangerous transfer into a wheelchair or
4.The clincher and the main reason I didn't listen to many CD books after: One day I was listening to a pretty taught John le Carre Spy Thriller and I got to the last disc and could I find it, could I ever? I mean, would you buy a book with the last 100 pages missing? I'm surprised I've got any hair left the amount I must have pulled out that day!
The point is pretty clear I suppose I have none of these issues anymore apart from not being able to listen in bed but because my wheelchair reclines I'm hoping this isn't a problem. Since I discovered audible in late january I have listened to over ten books and I wanted to talk about some of them here (2 in particular), because one of them scarily and often in an ironically funny way mirrors some of the dreadful experiences and people I encountered in the early days of my career in the city, and the 2nd book talks very technically about how the world got into such a fine economic mess, I thought being an economics graduate I'd understand it. Some (if not all of it) was written in double Dutch,the two books of which I speak are Cityboy (by pseudonymed Geraint Anderson)and ' the Trillion Dollar Meltdown' by Charles Morris.Cityboy talks about how the author goes into the city as a wide eyed, educated, arrogant, idealistic, ambitious, deeply cynical twenty something, coincidently a pretty similar position to me over a decade ago. Luckily for me I possessed neither his ambition or sheer bloody minded-ness to be capable of taking my life to the brutal excesses he took his life to. For starters we both got jobs for middle of the road investment banks him at the tongue in cheek false named Banque Inoutil which I took as .'useless bank' working as a utilities analyst. I myself was a telecoms analyst graduate trainee for HSBC Securities (the investment banking bit of high street bank HSBC surprisingly and this won't be a surprise to anyone, I hated everything about the place by the time I left in mid 2001. I had neither the sexual, chemical or financial excesses of Mr Anderson but there were one or two stories that were scarily on the money, particularly those surrounding how you got paid more if clients (investment managers) voted for you in the two annual surveys. It basically meant that it wasn't about which team was the best at predicting which shares went up and which went down, it was nothing more than a playground popularity contest! Analysts spent hours/weekends, hours at weekends trying to forecast the future financials of companies and the theoretical values of shares on huge excel models that bore about as much relevance to reality as Zimbabwes last announced election result. Sure, they were very clever models but altering the smallest assumption in them often meant a swing in the theoretical value of the shares from a 'buy' to a 'sell'. Not that the market seemed to care, It was the pre-Enron days where a company could be worth anything, you could almost pick whatever value you wanted rendering analysts,salesmen and investment banks pointless but no-one told the analysts and salesmen. Instead the value of technology, media and Telecoms (TMT) companies was decided by newsflow, rumour and what side people who traded in these companies had got out of bed. What was worse is that analysts and salesmen were being paid a fortune (£100k+) to spout/write that this horsesh*t was all happening for things that companies were actually doing. Rubbish, it was a bubble pumped up by all the hot air that was being talked into it by a bunch of people who know nothing about why some companies make money and some don't. I am embarrassed to have once been classed an 'expert' on telecoms companies. It is this belief by fundamentally unqualified people who think they are more important and worth more than they actually are that has got us into this mess today. Luckily I never took myself too seriously so I never became a complete city tw*t (I hope) but I can't say that for a lot of people I worked with and knew of back then, tw*ts. I wouldn't so much like to stab these people in the back, more, in the front.
To be continued when I have the time and energy. For good meausure a couple of snaps of where my long suffering parents have just come back from two weeks in (they deserved it but I can't hide my jealousy)

1 comment:

Simon said...

I'm glad you had a nice day yesterday. Sorry i didn't come but i had planned ages ago to see Mr Random for lunch.

I'm also surprised you have only just discovered audible to be honest. I would have told you about it ages ago if i had know you didn't know about it.



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