Every year it's the same. In the run-up to Christmas the office looks like an Aladdin's cave of goodies that just keep coming. Yes, it's Christmas "treat time", courtesy of the clients, where they reward us for all the hard work (yeah, right) that's gone into squeezing, and in some cases just massaging, their portfolios.
Already this week I've received a truckload of wine cases from a variety of family-owned vineyards, an envelope stuffed with Selfridges vouchers, a couple of Harrods hampers and a diamond bracelet. Shame they were delivered to the office though, as the vigilant compliance manager immediately declared them "gifts" and subjected them to the bank's "corporate governance policy". Anything valued at more than £100 must go back.
But some treats are priceless, particularly one I received from a wealthy Eastern European client, whom my boss has been schmoozing for months in the hope of squeezing a few big ones out of him. When he called to take her out for a Christmas thank you, she was out of the office ill and I decided it would be churlish not to accompany him instead.
He arrived right on cue in his chauffeured Maybach 62. They cost about £330,000 so I knew straight away that I was in for a night of excess – although I swiftly realised that he was used to a little more than just "business talk" when the footrest popped out and the massage command fired into action.
After 30 minutes with him rubbing my thigh, we arrived at Divo, the "interesting" Ukrainian restaurant in Waterloo Place where I was treated to a solidified giant Cossack sausage, while my host gorged himself on caviar that came with a three-figure price tag.
Unimpressed with his idea of a treat, I made my excuses and attempted to leave, but he insisted on taking me home. I'm glad I let him though because on arrival he produced the real treat, a ruby-and- diamond necklace that I've since found out is worth £28,000. And it gets better, as he insisted for "tax purposes" that it be our little secret.