It’s only a game, mes amis
Places and events where you can guarantee to bump into the elite of the banking industry are not that frequent: there’s the IMF and Davos, of course, and the Chelsea Flower Show, and certain members’ clubs in London; plus, we should not forget to mention, Euromoney’s Awards for Excellence dinner.
But for a few weeks in September and October, another hotspot was an unremarkable patch of west London: Twickenham for the rugby world cup.
From pubs to bus queues and slightly awkward encounters in the facilities, a crunch game that saw hosts England succumb to arch-rivals Wales was littered with familiar city faces.
George Orwell observed in the 1930s that a bomb under the main stand at Twickenham on international day would save England from the threat of fascism for a generation. These days, it is the preserve no longer of the landed aristocracy and their political gophers but rather of corporate sponsors and their guests.
As the second half of the game wore on and referee Jérôme Garcès awarded penalty after penalty against England at the breakdown, one stout and over-refreshed gentleman could contain himself longer. Lurching to his feet he bellowed in the direction of the ref: “You French bastard”, by sheer chance filling the only moment of near silence to fall in an 80 minute din.
Somehow, he had allowed himself to forget that he owed his place at the eagerly awaited contest entirely to the generosity of Société Générale, as did everyone around him. Four rows of people turned and stared, with many a Gallic eyebrow arched. Mortified, the offender slumped down and shrank into his seat.
“There was no call for that,” Euromoney confided sympathetically to the SocGen banker sat in front of us. “Yeah. He’s right though,” came the reply. ”This French arsehole’s going to cost us the match.”