Sunday, 5 September 2010
The City: Social changes mitigate against social mobility
When I first started, one of my senior bosses, should he want a meeting about something, would invite me out to lunch. This would entail a huge steak and at lest 3 bottles of very heavy (and quality) red wine. Often the discussion would be how things are not like the old days, where everyone worked until lunch and then went for a liquid lunch for the rest of the day. He bemoaned this for his last few years before his comfortable retirement.
So that was the City of the 1990's and early 2000's; no more slacking off after lunch and long-hours on projects not being compensated for by time off when work was not so busy. Still though, everyone drank wine at lunch and it was de rigeur to go to the pub after work, more or less every day.
Yet now in 2010, there is a much changed social culture across much of the city. The City has been affected by the European and American workers who have helped to erode further the drinking culture. And the rise of Gym's and fitness freakery now means the younger generation (i.e. under 30) are more likely to be doing a triathlon at the weekend than be out at The Ivy. A single glass of wine with lunch is about as much as they want.
As someone who is not blessed with much drinking stamina, I don't hate this change, but it is so noticeable. The big effect this has strikes me as the one on competition for the good city jobs. Now all the youngsters starting out are straight A students, then onto good university, then into hard working job where to relax they try to stay super fit. It really is the elite of the elite. The new Government may want to increase social mobility, but these guys and gals are going to have none of it, they are not giving up their hard won jobs and lifestyles for anyone. And not many people are going to want this level of commitment for their career either.