While the average day at work is never dull, it certainly doesn’t normally involve quite so much attention, beetling all over the city and random encounters as Tuesday 11th May did. This is because this is the day I had decided to do a day in the life of the Ed, but dressed as none other than the legendary Freddie Mercury. As the day neared, I became more and more nervous, not least because of the massive amount my friends, family and colleagues were sponsoring me to do this...it started to occur to me that either I might not be sure what I’d let myself in for. Below is the story of 24 hours as Freddie in a normal, suburban banker’s life...
My neighbours looked generally confused as I made my way to the station as usual, although brandishing a collection tin and flyers to promote the MPT. The commute is never pleasant, but oddly I seemed to have more space on the train than usual. One very kind gentleman chased after us at Waterloo with my moustache – one down, several more to go!
The typically freezing May weather meant I was grateful to get to the tube, where at least the heat from the thousands of other people on the Jubilee provided some warmth in my highly synthetic and somewhat ill fitting outfit. One final connection on the DLR to the office with even more bemused commuters and it was out into the blustering winds of Canary Wharf and a quick dash into the office.
Now very nervous, I walked into the office to a round of applause, which made me wonder whether people had thought I’d go through with it. Keeping to my usual routine, Freddie caught up with the e-mails in my inbox and had a couple of internal catch up meetings. I was not amused to discover that ‘drinking’ coffee generally entailed it being absorbed very quickly into my facial hair...and it didn’t taste so good on its way out.
Once I had finished wringing out #2 tashce, it was time to head out for client meetings to discuss the issues around liquidity management in today’s volatile markets and how to address them, though I’m not sure how much work the banks were expecting to get done, as apparently it is very hard to take me seriously wearing a Wembley outfit, complemented by a very itchy wig.
My 11:00 at HSBC went well once I finally made it past security, with the exception of having to wait in the massive reception for ten minutes, during which I drew a lot of attention and was asked whether I was Sergeant Pepper – this did not go down well and fortunately my client met me at this point and took me to our meeting room on the 25th floor, where a lot more disbelieving staring took place through the corridors of the vast building on a seemingly very long journey.
Once we had finished our discussions, it was onto RBS in the city, which involved another DLR ride and caused much embarrassment to my colleagues who had naively agreed to accompany me. While grabbing a coffee on the way to the meeting, I was sponsored by ‘Pearl’ the Nana from the Shreddies campaign...clearly fame attracts fame!
My contact at RBS had very kindly arranged a meeting room in the middle of their trading floor, which involved three open escalators and walking through a myriad of screens and desks much to the confusion of the consummate professionals manning the trading operations. Even better, our meeting room had a glass wall from floor to ceiling, so there was no escaping the looks of disbelief as we processed to opine on the state of the UK economy and the impact of a hung parliament on sterling.
After RBS it was time for a quick spot of lunch with Deutsche, in a very nice restaurant just down the road. Fortunately we had booked for 1pm, so the place was heaving as we made our way up the staircase to the mezzanine floor, just to make sure everyone got an eyeful. One delicious lobster crepe later and it was time to make my way back the Canary Wharf on the tube.
Made it back just in time for our meeting at Citi, where our new contact had kindly agreed to meet me to discuss liquidity management and same day settlement. He did initially find it extremely hard to engage on this serious matter, which was understandable as by this time I kept pulling on my very itchy, sticky moustache for a moment of sweet relief from the adhesive.
The final work task of the day was a conference call with a large US bank, which I had to take in a cafe near the office due to time constraints. Freddie Mercury on a conference call is apparently not standard fare in Cafe Nero judging by the staring patrons of the establishment. No one tried to share my table though, so every cloud has a silver lining...
So with my work done for the day, it was time to pop into the gym to burn off some of that lobster. So back to the tube I went, fortunately in rush hour for maximum exposure/embarrassment, and arrived in time for a bit of cycling, rowing and my usual free weights in Covent Garden. I’m not sure whether people were more concerned by the person who seemed to have lost their mind, sweating in a bright yellow jacket, or that they might be caught in a photo, but everyone was a jolly good sport.
Once done in the gym, I was temptingly close to Soho, so popped into a well known establishment on Dean Street for a few strawberry ciders with the lads (and ladesses) and a bite to eat. Having caused as much embarrassment to those good enough to come and have a pint or two (by this time the giant inflatable mic and guitars were in full swing), it was time to make my way to the Dominion to see none other than We Will Rock You.
A surreal experience if I’ve ever known one and an impressive performance by the cast (though no doubt I could have done better)! Having visited the theatre the previous night for a photo shoot with the cast and none other than Brian and Roger, the very nice staff at the theatre weren’t quite as shocked as the previous night to see me, though some did still express concern for my sanity.
So the day finally drew to a close and it was time to get back on my train to suburbia and dance my way home to finally remove the moustache and evaluate the severity of an alarming rash developing across my top lip!
So, in summary, a very long, initially nerve racking day. Lessons I have learnt:
- Always carry a back up moustache...and moisturiser...and a straw.
- There are a lot of ‘Immac’ hair removal jokes that I never knew existed.
- That people are remarkably generous when it comes to a good cause and a bit of abject humiliation.
- And of course, that Just Giving is a great way to reach lots and lots of people who are kind enough to support the charity.
Thank you to everyone who has sponsored me to be Freddie for a Day, your contributions really will go a long way towards helping the charities we support. I also have to give special thanks to my sister, who never left my side and took hundreds of photos, my boyfriend, who despite refusing to admit the tasche was attractive was there 100% of the way, Ruth for hours slaving over flyers, and my family for all their support (and for meeting up with me on the day too).
While someone has suggested a sequel in the outfit from ‘I Want to Break Free’ I think I’ll be hanging up my Freddie mantle for a little while at least – being a star is exhausting, fact.
p.s. Additional thanks to the following:
Mark Sayell – Citi
Simon Cammack – HSBC
Peter Lightfoot – RBS
Nuffield Health, Covent Garden
The Crown and Two Chairmen
The Dominion Theatre
And of course...the team from MPT and Queen.