Archive for Financial Services

New project, financial services and strange buildings

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on May 28, 2010 by Esther Sherman

Now that ‘The Sea Cure’ has been sent out to dance, I am moving on, to distract myself from wondering if my poor zombie hooker will manage to pick someone (something?) up.

I started a new short story today, provisionally titled ‘The Under Writing’, just over 1000 words so far, skeleton done, which is the hardest part for me and is the reason why I haven’t written very many stories so far. I like to have the whole thing mapped out before I start it properly, as I’ve got a very short attention span when writing, and like to be able to skip to a more interesting bit when I get bored.  Writing stories longhand when I was a teenager was always a chore, as I’d start, get bored, leave a few blank pages, then start a more exciting bit, then go back later and try to join them up, which resulted in annoyingly uneven plots. I’m far too lazy to rewrite longhand as copying out huge chunks is frustrating.  If it wasn’t for computers, I’d never get anything finished.

Despite the title, it’s not about my job. Really.

An ex-colleague of mine once helped to clear out some old offices at the company we both worked at, and found loads of ancient personnel files from the 70s. These included old passport photos, and these were so interesting that he decided to keep them and stuck them on a board.  He showed these to me and they were fascinating – not just for the typically hilarious 70s hairstyles, glasses frames and shirt collars but because every single one of them looked like either a serial killer, child molester or cult member.  They were actually travelling salesmen (there was one woman, and she looked like Rose West) of financial products, mainly mortgages and endowments, so not far off.  This, combined with the enormous tomes of old rules and guidelines for legacy products opened up decades before, got me thinking about how any really old company, even one with a fresh modern name and rebrand can have archaic mechanics working behind the scenes and skeletons in its closets.  When a current colleague asked me if we could ‘make a customer iller’ as we were trying to win the business, that was the final piece of the puzzle.

My answer, by the way, was ‘If you like, we could send him an envelope of anthrax, but I don’t think it would be legal.’

Lawyers get a bad rap (remember Wolfram & Hart and The Devil’s Advocate), but financial services?  I remember one tv advert for an insurance company where they’d made the interesting choice of portraying a patient having blood drawn, then the syringe morphed into a pen, which a person then used to sign their name.  I wonder if I was the only one who thought that this wasn’t perhaps the best idea to plant in customers’ heads.

At my current company, we have a series of recent print ads hanging in our offices in which several pensioners threaten violence towards their IFAs unless our company is considered for a quote.

Brighton’s Unusual Buildings


© Copyright Simon Carey and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Because I need to stop talking about financial services, before I spoil my story completely, this is a picture of a derelict building near to my house.  I don’t know what it was before it was vacated (before I moved to Brighton so at least ten years ago), and the pictures you can see on the windows are really quite creepy.  There were travellers staying on the surrounding wastegrounds, but they were evicted a couple of years ago and a big fence erected, and workmen started clearing the building.  After a while though, the workmen disappeared, and caravans arrived again, though the big fence is still there and the gate looks like it is securely locked, so it’s a mystery how the travellers got them in.

If anyone knows about unusual buildings in Brighton, I’d be interested to find out about 18 Marlborough Street. You can find it on google streetview at postcode BN1 3EE.  It has four tinted, stained glass windows with card suits on them, two stained glass doors onto a central balcony with a cocktail glass on one and a pentagram on the other and ornate embossed wooden main and garage doors.  From google earth it looks like it has a glass roof over the centre of the building.  I’d like to think it’s the headquarters of some cult or a location for filming satanic porn films.  Maybe Caroline Lucas MP would know, apparently she lives in the same street.