SO RICH YOU WANT TO SLAP THEM(PART TWO); on Saturday the Mail Described the Obscenely Lavish Lifestyles of the Women Married to the City's New Super-Rich. Here, One Ex-Member of the Club Breaks Ranks to Say These Wives Are Totally in Thrall to Their Husbands - and Often Regard Their Marriages as Business Contracts
Byline: SARAH TUCKER
AT A formal dinner party I once attended - populated entirely by bankers - I remember one newly married woman being lectured by her banker husband as we were walking into the reception area.
Their conversation went along the lines of him telling her: 'Don't mention you come from Essex; don't eat with your fingers because it looks common; don't get drunk because you get stupid when you get drunk; hide your watch because it's not worth showing.
'Don't talk to Henry because he'll try to flirt with you; don't talk to Gerard because he'll want to find out about me. Don't speak about the holiday, because they'll realise we're not having one this year and they are; don't tell them you can't ski, or surf or dive.' With that he strode on ahead of her. I remember the woman looking at him on the verge of tears. Only then did her husband turn to her, hold her hands, hug her and say: 'But remember to be yourself.' The irony is that the woman was so wound up at the beginning of the evening, she proceeded to get absolutely hammered on champagne and attracted so much attention from the other male guests - Henry and Gerard included - that, as I later learned, the drive home was conducted in stony silence.
Welcome to the unique and secretive world of bankers' wives.
From the outside it looks glamorous and privileged. The reality is that it's a pressure cooker of control in which men with vast salaries seek to employ their spouses as corporate weapons.
This week, everyone from the liberal media to chippy Government ministers have been getting excited about the prospect of record City bonuses this Christmas - up to [pounds sterling]5million each for senior bankers. But for me a far more interesting, complex group of individuals stand in the wings - their wives.
So who are they? Take a footballer's wife, give them a brain, double the ambition, dull the hair, halve the chest size and you have a banker's wife. I know this because for years I was one myself.
Although my ex is a good man and a good father, when we divorced after seven years of marriage, having fallen out of love, my solicitor told me in no uncertain terms that I should never, ever consider marrying a corporate man again.
'Sarah, you are not right for a corporate life,' he told me as we walked out of the court room.
'Corporate man expects you to put him first, always first, and what is true of most corporate men is especially true of men who work in the City.
'It is a job for which you get well paid but you must be prepared to play by the rules.' Perhaps I never mastered The Rules, but there are plenty of women who have. I've met some highly successful corporate wives, and their husbands, and learned more about how these women manage their corporate husbands.
Take the dinner parties which are so often the place where the bankers' wives come into contact with each other. They were full of the boring, pompous banter about expensive holidays, expensive cars and expensive houses that passes for conversation at banker dinner parties.
THE men talk in money terms about wine, cars and boys' toys; about whether the 2001 Chateauneuf du Pape is better than the 2001 Barolo; or if the Ferrari 575M Maranello is more stylish than the Aston Martin Vanquish.
One bizarre conversation revolved around two guys talking about whether or not they should buy a fullsize Star Wars stormtrooper suit with a helmet for just under [pounds sterling]3,000, and if they'd get much use out of it. They are literally overgrown boys.
Think of suppressed anger of Abigail's Party crossed with money, and you get the idea.
None of the parties I have been to, or friends have been to, have ended in a heart attack, but a few reputations have been slashed to bits - in a world where reputation is everything.
The wives themselves, with a few notable exceptions, are effortlessly stylish, but none of them are what you might call 'sweet'. …