Whoever said that anticipation is greater than realisation was clearly referring to something other than a financial services event. Your agenda for every conference this season, ladies and gentlemen:

7.30am-8.30am: Arrive. Wash down continental breakfast with ‘coffee’.

8.30am-8.40am: Navigate to opening session, where the air conditioning is so aggressive it would keep meat from spoiling. Strike up a conversation with the analyst sitting next to you, who has ice tendrils in his beard. After 10 minutes, Shackleton confesses that he’s only here for the CPD points.

8.40am-8.50am: Listen to the third-highest salary at a well-known acronym use the word ‘engagement’ seven times in his address, as you feel yours rapidly slipping away. Start regretting that heavy breakfast, but long for more of that abrasive coffee.

8.50am-9.05am: Dash to the bathroom and run into an inexplicably chatty BDM whose name you can’t remember. Darren or Derrick or David doesn’t wash his hands before he leaves, so you have to use your elbows to open the door on the way out.

9.05am-9.55am: Arrive late to the next seminar due to bathroom fiasco and feel the accusatory, self-righteous glare of several hundred eyes. Sit through a lecture on the applications of a minor regulation that makes Parliament time sound like a TED talk.

10.00am-10.50am: Attend a session hosted by an actuary who, unfamiliar with bright lights and open spaces, presents it from his chair in the third row.

10.55am-11.00am: Wander to the next session, where the chief executive of a reputable organisation refuses to answer any questions, on the grounds that he hasn’t been media trained. When it’s over, he thanks the crowd for listening. A slow clap turns into a tidal wave of applause.

11.00am-11.50am: A phone rings during a legal presentation. Using your spider-sense, you look in the direction of the noise and cast accusatory and self-righteous glares at potential perpetrators, until you realise it’s coming from your pocket. You don’t answer it. Plausible deniability, your honour.

12.00-12.45pm: Lunch is served, and eaten standing up in front of merchandise stands. The child inside of you dies a little as you walk away with a ‘showbag’ consisting of assorted promotional pens, a stress ball, two mousepads, a stubbie holder and a brochure on smart-beta.

12.45pm: Stop in bathroom to sponge aioli off tie.

1.00pm-1.50pm: Yawn through a fireside discussion, sleepy again because there is no portion control at a standing buffet and you ate everything. Wake up as the session ends but get lost on the way to the next seminar, which is literally in the next postcode.

2.00pm-2.50pm Sit through more PowerPoint slides. Mentally note how PowerPoint is like the crocodile. Neither has evolved, ever; they just survive and eat the competition. Ponder a future in which flying cars, time travel and PowerPoint presentations coexist.

3.00pm-4.00pm: Skip a session and slag off to a nearby café with the intention of catching up on a day’s worth of emails and calls. Waste half an hour on LinkedIn, constructing the perfect riposte to an inflammatory comment on a post you forwarded a few days ago.

4.00pm-5.00pm: Walk into the day’s final session to find an empty room. Realise that everyone else has skipped this talk and assembled at a nearby pub to get a head start on the drinking. Stare unblinkingly as the speaker gives his entire presentation while maintaining direct eye contact.

5.00pm–8.00pm: Attend boozy social event and erase the drabness of the day by drinking too much alcohol for a school night. Run like a wakened vampire when the lights come on.


Dixon Bainbridge is fanatical about any number of inconsequential issues. Contact him on [email protected]

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