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Ha! Royal Bank of Shambles: View from the Hackney omnibus

It’s not often you overhear comments about commercial banks on the upper deck of the number 26 bus heading for the London borough of Hackney. Situated on the City of London’s doorstep, Hackney is known for trendy pubs as well as street gangs, drug dealing and general villainy. Banter on the number 26 includes, but is not limited to, sincere discussions on the merits of mobile phone models, kebabs, gambling and stern child-rearing.

One Saturday afternoon, after a pleasant outing to the South Bank, this correspondent was seated upstairs on a number 26. The bus had just passed Liverpool Street station where a family group boarded. They sat a few rows in front of me and spoke Spanish. The next stop on the route is on Bishopsgate, just over the road from the erstwhile ABN Amro headquarters, now rebranded with Royal Bank of Scotland logos.

The father figure in the Spanish group turned and looked at the RBS building. He let out a deep sigh. "Royal Bank of Scotland," he said in English, his voice filled with contempt. "Ha! Royal Bank of Shambles!" Clearly, then, RBS’s reputation as a banking powerhouse is rock solid in Spain.