Saturday, December 27, 2008

Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot

Well, another year has come and gone. To say 2008 was a memorable year would be an understatement - it's probably the most eventful year in my life so far.

Q1 2008

2008 started off quite unremarkably though. We moved into Adelaide Wharf right before Christmas (since our previous place - a 500 square foot one bedroom ex-council flat above the adidas store in WC2 - was s0ld by the landlord for an insane amount - around GBP450,000) and were slowly but surely adjusting to life in our new surroundings. Even though the size and layout of the flat were quite similar to our Seven Dials flat, rent was more than GBP60 cheaper, there was more sunlight and there was the gorgeous view out to the eastern horizon. Also, there was no prospect of having drunken hecklers shouting or singing outside late at night, having to dodge all the rubbish, vomit and piss each weekend morning on the way to M&S, Tescos or Sainsburys or accidentally glancing at the neighbour across the street sauntering semi-naked, through the windows . I was able to walk or, if I felt to lazy or if it was too cold or wet, take a short bus ride down Kingsland Road to Bishops Square for work and weekend market options were simply a pleasant stroll along the canal or through Haggerston Park. Only highlight in January I can recall is that I took a week off after New Years and attended a life drawing workshop at the Prince's Drawing School. I think it helped get the creative juices going and made me think more seriously about all the future possibilities.

In February, I was also assigned to work "full-time" (though this didn't prevent me from getting assigned additional work) on a mamoth project which involved advising the banking syndicates on the financing of the acquisition and reorganisation of the "Devil" by a consortium led by Mac-lite.

We hosted a Chinese New Year dinner. Jeanie brought over some Chinese horoscope predictions for the year ahead and the predictions for Horses were extremely poor. I should have took heed of the bad fortune that was coming :-p.

March came and, after recognising that our adventures within the UK had been few and far between, we decided to take a road trip to Cornwall for the Easter long weekend. Though Cornwall had some tremendously beautiful scenery and was pleasant enough in general, the drive took hours, the weather was v. cold, wet and windy and it became apparent why vacations on the Continent were so much more appealing than trips within the UK. We did stay in a lovely organic, gay-friendly B&B in St Ives (nothing like the Sydney namesake) and I had the opportunity to sample Cornish pasties, ice cream and cream teas. We had to cut the long weekend short by one day though as I was required at work on the Devil's business.

Q2 2008

We returned to Sydney via Hong Kong for two weeks during April. It was only six months since our last trip back to HK and Sydney. The intention of the trip was the look around the universities and finally make up my mind. I did.

I also had my formal annual appraisal and performance grading with the Beyatch and my old trainer. It was quite predictable - they complimented me on the good work I had done, but also emphasized that it was that time in my legal career that I really had to step up to the plate and commit myself further should I wish to become a more senior member of the department. Hmm...

In May, we were able to take a weekend trip in Paris. and it was wonderful. Paris in Spring is glorious and it really swept away all the poor memories of the cold and dismal Paris we saw during our first visit to the city during Easter 2006. Of course, having Rachel as host and staying in her fabulous apartment in the 4th arrondisement helped! I did think about the Devil quite a bit and I suffered a big downer hours before returning to London.

After the previous month's formal appraisal, I had an informal "fire-side" chat with the Beyatch regarding salary and benefits. With a big smile on her face, she informed me that, excluding pension, private healthcare, etc. , my salary was being bumped up to GBP88K from GBP76K (effective from the beginning of the month) and that I was entitled to a guaranteed deferred bonus of GBP9K plus a portion of the firm's annual profits next July. Obscene amounts which did make me pause and think about holding on for another year... but only for a nanosecond.

June arrived with news that three associates transferred to the Hong Kong office on their own volition. To me it sounded like a bizarre decision - it was like jumping out of the pot and into the fire - but apparently they were saying that they were treated much better by the partners over there than in our department. Wimps I thought as they had never really worked for the Beyatch. Another colleague on the same grade level as me resignsed after completing her 9-month secondment at RBS. She said that she had had enough of the Beyatch and did not want to return to work for her. Oh dear, that meant that there was only Rachel and me remaining within clawing/summoning distance from the Beyatch.

[Btw, the Beyatch is quite the character. A single female partner in her 40s, she was made partner around 10 years ago, and is quite renowned for her legal acumen but more so for her temperamental behaviour. When stressed, she would be in an absolutely foul mood. Pity the poor person who needs to deal with her then. She has systematically made every female associate, trainee or PA working under her cry (at least once) and has led to many a person resigning (lots of juicy stories there!). She only likes working with associates she deems competent (so pity the person who actually does decent work), but noone wants to work with her. Apparently, she has been seeking anger management training and there have been signs of behavioural improvement.]

Q3 2008

July was a pretty rough month wrestling with the Devil. You-know-who got a teaching position training English teachers in a rural town in Rajasthan, India for a charitable organisation. The job on paper satisfied almost everything he ever wanted vocationally. He left London during the first half of the month.

July payday was a special day as it was also the day when we received our deferred bonuses that were promissed to us 18 months ago. As an associate retention tool, it did work... somewhat. However, they didn't realise that there were people waiting around until this day to come, so that they could formally submit their resignations. I was the first one in the department to do so that day - I informed my old trainer before noon. Two other associates followed after lunch, including another associate working with the Devil. A couple of partners rushed into the room that two other associates working on Devil sat in and asked if they were ok with things at work. I carried a smug smile for the remainder of that day!

To be continued...


Bents said...

Hmm.. The Beyatch sounds familiar (although she may have larger testicles than my version). Looking forward to hearing about the next instalment ;)

Jean said...

Small correction: it wasn't me who brought the horoscopes to your Lucky CNY Party. I do recall being told that I would marry this year, with only 2 days left, I think even a shotgun wedding needs more time than this. And I never knew you had such entertaining neighbours at your old pad("sauntering semi-naked"), dude you should have told me!


Keith said...

He wasn't that attractive :p.

Anonymous said...

looking forward to part II