I’m not very good at reunions. I get oddly apprehensive. But last night my old firm of lawyers had a dinner for retired partners in their new offices in the City of London. They now occupy ten floors of an enormous tower with impressive views if you like seeing equally enormous pieces of multiple fenestration. It’s the first time London has felt like Manhatten.
I went. It’s been three years since the last get together courtesy of Covid and the firm has its first female senior partner so I thought I should put in a cameo.
And, of course, it was delightful. I met former colleagues who I’d forgotten I actually quite liked. Oh sure, there were the usual smattering of hawing arseholes dotted about but in my time we reached 500 plus partners (there were 36 when I walked through the front door in July 1981 – actually it was a revolving door and I can remember thinking it had to be a get ahead business to have one of those). In amongst 500 partners you would inevitably find the odd jackass, charlatan and greasy sychophant. But there were many who ate their soup properly, didn’t always talk about great rounds of golf and understood that Douglas Adams was a genius.
It’s been a while since I retired. Some haven’t changed much, most have the sort of glow that is denied the habitually nocturnal beige complexion that is the continuing lot of successful lawyers. But some are showing their age and the years of stress and sandwiches that feed businesses.
It wasn’t all great. Putting on shoes that compliment the suit I was expected to wear led to a crippling blister that had me lurching like the drunk I’m not. And I have a bespoke seafood allergy that was confused with another guest who avoid lactose so for a time I was denied my pudding.
But a small price to pay for renewing some aged old contacts. Those years chiselling deals out of the intransigent granite of stubborn clients and intractable competitors weren’t entirely wasted.