After 35 years of stockbroking for some of the biggest houses and investors in Australia and the UK, the Secret Broker is regaling Stockhead readers with his colourful war stories — from the trading floor to the dealer’s desk.

One of the ways we used to cope with the pressure of stockbroking in the ’80s and ’90s was of course alcohol. In the ‘good old days’, going to the pub at lunch time and having a few pints was fully acceptable.

If it was someone’s birthday, a lunchtime session was expected and the birthday boy or girl would be expected to buy everyone their first drink.

The act of buying their first drink was of course returned back and the more popular the birthdayee was, the more pissed they were when they returned to their desk.

In those days, a pub was only allowed to open at midday and close at 3.00pm. Then 5.00pm till 11.00pm, with a 10-minute drinking up time bonus, seven days a week.

The opening hours were the very British way of keeping the great unwashed under control and keeping a lid on consumption.

The morning session was put in place so that on a Sunday, the common people could go to church and pray for their sins before heading off to their local boozer to drown any remaining sins.

At work, we all used to have two jackets. One for the back of the chair and the other was to wear down to the pub for our lunchtime pressure-release valve.

The jacket on the back of the chair was a sign that you were still working around the office somewhere and not out of the building. Your other jacket would be hanging in the staff cloakroom, waiting for “lunch”.

About two pints later you would go back to work, hang your second jacket back up in the cloakroom, stroll back to your desk and grab your jacket off it and declare ‘right I’m off to lunch now. Back in an hour’. Then head back for more stress relief!

I suppose that as the only bit of heavy machinery you would ever use was a pen and an index finger to make phone calls, it was acceptable.

No one drove as everyone commuted and the longer the journey home, the more time to sober up before greeting the wife.

Then, when Monday morning arrived, the work banter was mainly about where you ended up Friday night, after your two-jacket session and your top-up evening session.

Among several famous homebound train stories was the one where I had managed to fall asleep and wake up back where I had started three hours later.

I had got on my homeward bound train at Baker Street, fallen asleep, gone to the end of the line and back again. Waking up and chcecking my watch, instead of saying 7.00pm it said 10.00pm. Now I had another hour and a half journey home again!

But my story got worse, as when I did wake, the train doors were just closing and my bladder was very full. No toilets on the train and because of fewer passengers, it would bounce around more than usual as it hurtled down the track, towards home.

As I was on a fast train, with limited stops, I had to wait 20 minutes before I could get off and use the bathroom. Of course, then I had to wait for another train as there was no way I could do what I had to do in the one-minute stop.

But the relief for my bladder more than made up for the fact that I had to wait another 30 minutes for the next train.

So, my Monday morning story of my Friday night five-hour trip home became legendary… until one Monday morning when Tom from accounts recalled his home journey story.

Not the good ‘lock-in’

Tom lived in a different area to me and had a different train service. A bit more fancy, with toilets on the trains.

Tom had done the usual Friday lunchtime and evening sessions, jumped on his train and just before arriving at his station, nipped into the loo. As he went to leave, the handle came off in his hand and he was locked in.

As it was a late night train and he was at the end of the line, no one else was on-board. No one could hear him banging on the door as his train pulled out and headed for the sidings.

After 20 minutes of trying, he finally fixed it and got out.

Now he had to walk along the railway line back to his station and climb up onto the platform and head for the exit.

The station master had spotted him as he was locking up and issued Tom with a £200 fine for illegally walking down the tracks.

That left Tom explaining to his wife where all the scuff marks on his suit had come from, the fact that they had a £200 fine to pay and why he was so late getting home.

She had already gone to bed and given his dinner to the dog and he was banished to the spare room ‘because you smell of diesel and grease’.

His story of course needed a Monday lunchtime two-jacket session, which included a whip round towards his fine.

Later in life, as I moved around firms, different legendary stories came out and the one that topped it for me was how Eric from accounts (it’s always the accounts guy) had got home late (again) and his wife had changed all the locks on the house. And disconnected the doorbell!

As he couldn’t get in and it was the middle of winter (pre-mobile phone of course), Eric managed to open the garage door. He found an old bit of carpet, rolled himself up in it to try and keep warm and shivered himself to sleep.

He’s now onto his second wife.

These days, the London pubs are open all day and I’m told that if you have a lunchtime session coming up, they tell you not to come back to the office and to arrange for someone to cover for you.

No two jackets required!


The Secret Broker can be found on Twitter here @SecretBrokerAU or on email at [email protected].

Feel free to contact him with your best stock tips and ideas.