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About the strip > The 10s

2010

New US President Barak Obama tried to get tough with bankers - with predictable results.

01 Feb 10

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The James Cameron film "Avatar" set new ground in digital technology and also seemed to serve as a parable for the reckless excesses of bankers.


08 Feb 10

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The media’s predictions of the supposedly devastating consequences of the Pig Flu pandemic proved to be groundless. But the financial world acquired a new acronym.

10 Feb 10

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Alex was determined to win the bank's annual New Year weigh loss competition, which unfortunately involved giving up alcohol.

11 Feb 10

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The Greek crisis, which was to drag on for many a year (decade?), began to make the headlines.

15 Mar 10

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Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling had had enough of being blamed for the financial crisis and so a General Election was called so that someone else could take a turn. Alex’s colleague Justin bravely threw his hat into the ring to stand as a Conservative candidate.

15 Apr 10

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In April a cloud of volcanic ash emanating from Iceland caused an air flight ban leading to many business travellers being stranded abroad.

27 Apr 10

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Penny, always looking for the right birthday present for the man who has everything, gave Alex a personal trainer for his birthday.

28 May 10

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Christopher had a new girlfriend, Sophie, but their budding relationship was put under strain as she found herself attracting the unwanted attentions of Alex.

16 Jun 10

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We met William the fund manager for the first time. He would become something of a Cassandra figure in the strip. Constantly predicting Armageddon in the financial markets - for all the correct economic fundamentals - but being frustrated as central bank stimulus and the short-sighted desire for profit caused the stock market to keep defying financial gravity and soar to new record highs. We are entering what will soon be known as the “New Normal”.

08 Jul 10

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The Eurozone continued to unwind. Ireland was the latest country that needed a bail out and European central bankers descended on Dublin. Naturally Alex was on hand.

25 Nov 10

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In the real world Alex was invited to present his own Sunday evening drive time show on Classic FM, which involved him spinning classical tunes and offering his opinions on various issues of the day in between. Towry Wealth Management boldly elected to sponsor the series (with the cautionary strapline “Love Alex. Trust Towry”). Robert Bathurst reprised his role as Alex, but kindly agreed not to be credited. The result was a bit like Orson Welles’ legendary 1938 radio broadcast of the War of the Worlds. Many Classic FM listeners (well, those of them who didn’t read the Telegraph at any rate) failed to realise it was a spoof and believed they were listening to a genuine investment banker, airing his outrageous and insensitive opinions at a time when the global financial crisis was in full flux. Complaints flooded into the Classic FM switchboard and there was presumably an increase in Sunday evening road rage incidents in South East England. The programme was short listed for all four of the major radio awards and won two of them, including a Sony Gold Award (the judges described it as “superb, inventive, engaging and intelligent”). Classic FM, perhaps mindful of its stated mission to deliver “relaxation” to its listeners, declined to recommission the series


Inspired by the England cricket team’s unexpected new prowess Alex took a Christmas business trip Down Under to watch the Ashes.

16 Dec 10

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2011

The dark forces of compliance acquired a new sinister power as the UK Bribery Act came into force. Alex took appropriate action.


07 Jan 11

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With the coalition government searching round for people to pin the blame for the financial crisis on (apart from the previous Labour administration) senior bankers were summoned before a select parliamentary committee to explain their conduct. Alex’s old boss Rupert received the call.

31 Jan 11

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The regulators got in on the act and used the financial crisis as a excuse for imposing ever more Draconian compliance rules on the City. Skiing trips with clients, which were once the norm, were becoming harder to justify. Alex remained recalcitrant.

16 Feb 11

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The “Arab Spring” occurred across the Middle East and North Africa. Brutal dictators were deposed in a series of popular uprisings organised on social media.

24 Feb 11

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The Fukushima nuclear meltdown in Japan had serious implications for the global climate, financial and otherwise.

16 Mar 11

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Alex managed to wangle himself an invitation to the most prestigious social event of the year: the wedding of his ex-graduate trainee Prince William to Kate Middleton.

29 Apr 11

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The mercurial Brian McGure made his first appearance. He defected from Megabank to a competitor, leaving chaos in his wake and his colleagues in the lurch.

17 Jun 11

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Alex got hip with the modern corporate world by taking clients to Glastonbury rather than his habitual haunt of Glyndebourne. Naturally he hired a corporate winnebago for the occasion.

24 Jun 11

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It was Rugby World Cup year and Alex hatched machinations to get himself out to New Zealand to catch it.

19 Jul 11

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Social media was now becoming a crucial part of people’s lives and Linked-In was now the main way that people in the financial world could keep themselves in the loop.

20 Jul 11

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Bankers had been used to their desk phones being tapped by compliance for years, but now the FSA introduced new regulations which meant that corporate BlackBerrys would be recorded. This caused understandable consternation.

22 Jul 11

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Greece was about to go bust again and had to have another bail out. People were already starting to lose count. And there would be plenty more to come.

25 Jul 11

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It was a long hot summer in London and riots erupted. Alex was horrified to hear that the perpetrators used BlackBerrys to organise the violence.

10 Aug 11

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With bankers now Public Enemy Number One in society’s eyes Alex wondered whether they could continue to enjoy their upmarket lifestyles.

13 Sep 11

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Now pushing fifty, Alex attended a memorial service, sadly an increasingly regular occurrence in his life. In this case it was for a former client.

18 Oct 11

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Anti-capitalist demonstrators had set up a protest camp next to St Paul’s cathedral. Alex convened a lunch with the Archbishop of Canterbury to discuss the situation.


07 Nov 11

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Alex’s life was thrown into turmoil as its mainstay revealed she was leaving him. No, not his wife, but his PA, who was heading off on maternity leave.

23 Nov 11

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A new event featured in the corporate calendar : Movember. Clive decided to grow a moustache for charity and was upset when the rest of the department followed suit.

28 Nov 11

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Alex took time out over Christmas to pay an emergency visit to his long-time client Santa Claus, whose business had now gone bust.

23 Dec 11

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2012

Executive remuneration was a thorny issue of the day as CEO salaries defied austerity and spiralled out of all control.

24 Jan 12

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The lack of female company directors was another bone of contention and the “30% Club” was established to get more women onto boards. Rupert attended an early meeting.

30 Jan 12

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Scapegoats for what was now known as the GFC (global financial crisis) were being found. Fred Goodwin, aka "Fred The Shred", disgraced former CEO of Royal Bank of Scotland, was stripped of his knighthood.

06 Feb 12

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Alex celebrated his fiftieth birthday with a drinks party for a few select friends, colleagues, clients and headhunters.

23 Feb 12

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The stress of corporate life became too much for Alex and he succumbed to a heart attack. Colleagues rushed to lay claim to his job and bonus.

14 Mar 12

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There was much excitement and anticipation about the Summer Olympic Games which were to be staged in London.


03 May 12

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The Queen celebrated her Diamond Jubilee with a flotilla on the Thames. Alex’s office overlooks the river and he hosted a small celebratory gathering.

04 Jun 12

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Clive had always had artistic aspirations. He now published his first novel. A potboiler about the financial world. It didn’t do as well as he’d hoped.

21 Jun 12

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Alex put up a client for membership of his exclusive golf club, in flagrant defiance of the rules over proposing business contacts.

17 Sep 12

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The special deal that all banks now hankered after was a social media float, which would make geeks into billionaires and earn bankers big bonuses. Alex landed one.

19 Sep 12

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Bankers were feeling the pinch of austerity. When Alex’s boss insisted his team could only lunch in restaurants offering “meal deals” Alex staged a “lunch strike” in protest.

22 Oct 12

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The once ubiquitous BlackBerry was beginning to lose its dominance in the City, to be superseded by the upstart iPhone.

19 Nov 12

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Alex’s long-standing client Hardcastle asked his corporate advisers to re-pitch for his account. Alex’s team were stunned into action.

27 Nov 12

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According to the ancient Mayan calendar the world would end in December 2012. Alex made plans accordingly.

17 Dec 12

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2013

Alex finally got his longed-for invite to the gathering of the global elite of business and politics at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Needless to say, networking was his main priority.

22 Jan 13

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Clive became a father late in life as Bridget was duly delivered of twins. The Telegraph City Diary ran a competition to name them. The financial crisis was still uppermost in most readers’ minds and suggestions such as “Fanny and Freddie” and “Libor and Euribor” came in.

12 Mar 13

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Even hybrid cars were beginning to gain a foothold in the new enlightened financial world.

17 Apr 13

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Penny’s career advancement continued to Alex’s chagrin. She satisfied the business world’s quota-driven desire for female directors and was offered various non-executive directorships.

19 Apr 13

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Obviously Alex always puts his clients first, but nevertheless he was horrified when his long-standing Northern metal-basher client Mr Hardcastle was awarded a knighthood.

11 Jul 13

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Alex embraced the digital economy by road testing a pair of “smart glasses”

30 Sep 13

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Social media floats were now all the rage in the City and Alex got involved in the Twitter IPO.

24 Oct 13

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Much attention was paid by the media to the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War.

11 Nov 13

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Megabank hosted its annual kids’ Christmas party. Guess who was playing Santa?

18 Dec 13

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2014

Alex attended Davos once again, but in hurrying from one party to another he slipped and broke his leg. He spent several week on crutches.

24 Jan 14

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Ecological disaster affected the South East of England in the form of severe flooding. Alex was distressed when his wine cellar was submerged.

21 Feb 14

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Fresh indignities for Alex as Penny’s blossoming career as a non executive director obliged her to attend an off-site, to which he was invited in the capacity of “significant other”.

07 Mar 14

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Alex checked himself into a fashionable and exclusive Austrian detox clinic where patients pay through the nose to be starved.

26 Mar 14

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High frequency trading was now responsible for a large part of the turnover of the City. Alex and Clive debated its role in the modern economic climate.

30 Apr 14

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The rise in popularity of the pro-Brexit political party UKIP had made a media star of ex-City metal trader Nigel Farage. Alex traded pints with him in the pub.

05 May 14

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Alex got a new intern: Misha, the son of a billionaire Russian oligarch (who coincidentally also happened to be Alex’s client).

21 May 14

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After twenty years of attending the annual Extel Survey lunch Alex was finally accorded the honour of presenting an award at the ceremony. He did so via video link, engaging in banter with master of ceremonies Emily Maitlis. This is believed to be the first time a two dimensional character had presented an award at Extel (though judging by some of the speeches given by previous American guest presenters you might find that hard to believe).

You can see Alex’s appearance at Extel here.

Alex’s gay colleague Philip finally tied the knot with his long-term partner and fellow banker Nigel.

19 Jun 14

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Traders used to rule the roost in the City in terms of earnings, prestige and attractiveness to Essex Girls, but their dominance was now under threat.

03 Jul 14

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The Scots held a Referendum on Independence. They voted to stay in the UK, but another one may be along soon.

18 Sep 14

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Alex’s Russian client asked him to float a chain of lap dancing bars. Alex and Clive eagerly threw themselves into doing the due diligence.

05 Nov 14

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Every industry has its own awards ceremony these days and Compliance now got in on the act with a black-tie dinner. Clive attended.

20 Nov 14

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2015

The terrorist attacks on the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris seemed an unlikely subject for a cartoon, but nevertheless..

12 Jan 15

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Another year, another bail out for Greece. Alex had an odd dream.

17 Feb 15

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The must-see film was an adaptation of E.L. James’s erotic novel “50 Shades of Grey.” Penny went to see it on a girls’ night out.

20 Feb 15

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Hardcastle was beginning to suffer from years of being advised by Alex.

17 Mar 15

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The latest manifestation of the “New Normal” was negative interest rates, which had now been imposed in several countries as a countermeasure to the financial crisis.

24 Mar 15

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The Tories won an unexpected victory in the General Election which was greeted with almost unreserved joy by the City.

11 May 15

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There was a new accessory in the fashion for taking “selfies”: the selfie-drone. Alex naturally was an early adopter.

22 Jun 15

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Megabank appointed a new CEO. In deference to the financial crisis he is a former compliance officer and he set about reinventing the bank accordingly.

10 Jul 15

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Clive’s world was turned upside down as he came back early from a business trip to find his wife Bridget in bed with his boss Cyrus.

03 Nov 15

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Clive was left with no alternative but to respond to this outrage in the only way permitted to a gentleman: to challenge Cyrus to a duel. They duly meet at dawn on Hampstead Heath.

07 Dec 15

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2016

The pending referendum on whether Britain should leave the European Union divided the nation.


21 Mar 16

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The replacement of maternity leave with “shared parental leave” form April gave new options to professional power couples.




21 Apr 16

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Clive campaigned on behalf of the “Leave” campaign in the Brexit referendum, but encountered unexpected resistance in the Shires.

10 May 16

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Britain confounded the polls (and the Poles) by voting for Brexit . The City of London was fearful of losing its status as Europe’s centre of finance.

By complete coincidence Alex began appearing in colour for the first time.

01 Jul 16

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Brexit only strengthened the power of the regulators in the City. Mindful of this new order Alex entertained his compliance officer on a corporate grouse shoot.

19 Sep 16

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Deutsche Bank, which had once been the only European investment bank that could match the might of the American houses, was in trouble.

03 Oct 16

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There was much speculation about the maverick wild-card Republican candidate Donald Trump winning the forthcoming US Presidential election.

05 Oct 16

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It seemed another big brand name was going up in smoke.

14 Oct 16

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Alex had his boss Cyrus round for dinner to bend his ear ahead of bonus time. Bridget was also invited, necessitating the host’s identity being kept secret from Clive.

27 Oct 16

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Just as the liberal elite were getting bored of berating Brexit, along came President Trump to infuriate them even more.

10 Nov 16

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Despite all the doom-mongering some sectors of the economy were feeling the beneficial effects of Brexit.

23 Nov 16

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2017

The year opened with all the usual speculation about bonuses. Management practised standard mind games.

10 Jan 17

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At the World Economic Forum at Davos, the annual gathering of the elite of the worlds of business and politics, the only topic of conversation was the newly-elected President Trump.

20 Jan 17

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There were fears for the effect of Brexit on the City of London’s pre-eminence as Europe’s financial centre. Of course some people were able to see a positive agenda.

01 Feb 17

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The City had been given a big let-off in that the implementation of the latest draconian regulatory directive, Mifid II, had been deferred by a year. This didn’t stop people pondering its implications.

06 Feb 17

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Banks made much of their diversity and inclusiveness policies but in reality they were still hiring well-off, well-connected graduates.

09 Feb 17

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On February 24th Alex celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of his first appearance in a newspaper (The London Daily News, as you ask). He and Clive mused on their career longevity.

24 Feb 17

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The Brexit vote was perceived to be a reaction against the trend towards globalisation.

28 Feb 17

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The latest manifestation of cost-cutting in investment banks was a policy known as “juniorisation” which involved firing highly-paid older people and replacing them with more affordable younger ones.

02 Mar 17

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Compliance brought in specialist help in its ongoing efforts to stamp out illicit practices.

03 Mar 17

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Alex’s wife Penny’s career as a non-executive director continued to thrive.

20 Mar 17

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The uncertainty of global conditions presented the perfect opportunity for money to change hands in the occasional informal wager.

21 Mar 17

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In the ongoing war between the Baby Boomers and the Millennials in the office the latest battleground was Blockchain.

23 Mar 17

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Clive’s marriage to Bridget was clearly over after her continuing affair with his boss Cyrus. Alex had some words of consolation.

27 Mar 17

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In the light of possible terrorist plots targeting aircraft there was talk of airlines banning laptops.

31 Mar 17

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Clive and Bridget separately discussed the issue of him taking his bank to an industrial tribunal over Cyrus’s affair with her. She wished he’d “man up”. Predictably he didn’t.

03 Apr 17

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A national treasure that has been around considerably longer than Alex, the Duke of Edinburgh, announced his retirement from Royal duties.

08 May 17

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Markets, pumped up with the steroids of central bank policy and hopes for Trump’s tax cuts, were still rising inexorably. Alex was not one to buck the trend.

11 May 17

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A trendy new media-style club opened in the City in Midland Bank’s old banking hall - The Ned. Bankers were desperate to get membership. Alex was sceptical.

22 May 17

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Prime Minister Theresa May unexpectedly called a snap General Election for May 8th to capitalise on her party’s apparent lead in the opinion polls.

30 May 17

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The Election backfired horribly on the Tories and, following a disastrous campaign, they lost their majority in Parliament and only just clung on to power. A revitalised Labour Party, under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, was suddenly the talking point (and in the City, the fear) of the moment.

12 Jun 17

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There was a heatwave at Royal Ascot and the stringent dress code was relaxed for the first time in living memory.

23 Jun 17

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Alex was as ever a guest at the annual charity cricket match hosted by ex-City grandee Sir Victor Blank.

30 Jun 17

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Alex’s colleague Steven unexpectedly started to identify himself as a transgender woman named Stephanie.

03 Jul 17

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The iPhone celebrated its 10th anniversary. In this short time it had totally displaced the once ubiquitous BlackBerry as the gadget of choice for the investment banker.

20 Jul 17

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Alex, clearly feeling his age, was put on the 5:2 diet.

21 Jul 17

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Alex had his inevitable stand-off with his summer intern, a “snowflake” called Jacob.

28 Jul 17

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The “Magic Money Tree” which Labour supposedly would have to resort to in order to fund its public spending commitments, had been much discussed in the media in the fallout from the General Election. In a summer fantasy sequence Alex found the actual tree growing in the garden of No 10 Downing Street.

03 Aug 17

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With only four months to go till Mifid II came into force, banks were beginning to make serious preparations for this huge regulatory shake up.

04 Sep 17

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It was ten years since the run on Northern Rock kicked off the financial crisis. Central banks were still running the economy.

06 Sep 17

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Banks made much of their diversity and inclusiveness policies but in reality they were still hiring well-off, well-connected graduates.

07 Sep 17

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With his divorce imminent, Clive’s attempts to hide his money from his wife’s lawyers hit a technological snag

13 Sep 17

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Generational tensions between the Baby Boomers and their children continued.

14 Sep 17

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Alex’s bank moved into a new corporate HQ - a modern state-of-the-art “groundscraper”. Alex considered it a prison.

18 Sep 17

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PR firm Bell Pottinger collapsed following some dodgy dealings in South Africa. Its competitors were not slow to profit from its unfortunate demise.

19 Sep 17

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RyanAir announced mass flight cancellations due to what CEO Michael O’Leary described as a “cock up”. You might not have thought Alex would be affected by it, but he was.

20 Sep 17

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“Swipe a ride” tech firm Uber had its licence to operate in London revoked by the Mayor Sadiq Khan. Alex and Clive railed at his short-sightedness.

25 Sep 17

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Despite ten years of compliance overdrive the financial world was, according to an official report, riskier that it had been before the financial crisis.

27 Sep 17

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Alex waged an ongoing war with his compliance officer over the latter’s attempts to ban him from entertaining his clients.

28 Sep 17

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But Alex’s old boss Rupert, now semi-retired, had no compliance issues with his trip to the grouse moor.

29 Sep 17

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A routine lunch with a friend became suddenly problematic for Alex’s newly transgender colleague Stephanie.

03 Oct 17

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It was the country sports season and, despite the best efforts of compliance, Alex managed to fit in a bit of shooting and fishing.

10 Oct 17

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Alex made his annual visit to the October Club - that gathering of the great and the good of the City at the Savoy with the aim of eating, drinking, networking and in the process raising half a million pounds for charity.

11 Oct 17

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No one (the regulators included) still had any idea was going to happen when Mifid II hit in January, but the outlook wasn’t positive.

16 Oct 17

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As the bank strove to meet diversity quotas it was expected to ensure that appropriate provisions were in place.

19 Oct 17

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Alex failed to see eye to eye with his Millennial graduate trainee Leo over technological innovations.

26 Oct 17

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Banks were still setting aside large sums of compensation money for PPI misselling claims. Alex came up with rather an elegant solution to the problem.

27 Oct 17

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Stephanie had become decidedly po-faced since her gender reassignment and was reluctant to join in some of the more manly pursuits in the office.

03 Nov 17

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In the wake of social media accusations against Harvey Weinstein of workplace harassment, Alex’s own behaviour toward certain colleagues was found to be “inappropriate”.

07 Nov 17

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Alex won a pitch to float a sandwich shop business. The CEO turned out to have once been his graduate trainee.

10 Nov 17

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Thanksgiving was coming up and Alex discovered he had more in common with his American boss that he had supposed (his cynicism proved to be well founded).

22 Nov 17

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The gender pay gap was much discussed in view of the forthcoming regulation which would oblige all companies to declare the differential between the salaries of male and female employees by April 2018.

28 Nov 17

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As is its wont at Christmas time, the cartoon veered off into a fantasy sequence about robots taking over the financial world. This story could run and run.

04 Dec 17

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