Friday 17 February, 3.45pm, Hawksmoor restaurant, Basinghall Street EC2: My BBF (best banker friend) Marcus rang yesterday, offering a Friday blow-out – his shout. Hell, yes!

Agent P

We trade gossip over scallops (£20), 400g ribeye steak (£39.50) with two fried eggs on top (£3 – bargain), chips (£6) and sticky toffee pudding (£9). Burp. The second bottle of £96 Barolo is looking low. “Brandy, port?” enquires Marcus, who was an investment agent at GBH before following the money to Megabank’s debt team in 2017. The wine has pushed his debt to Hawksmoor close to £400. Does he think it’s 2007? What the hell does he want? A job, it turns out.

“It’s all gone to hell,” he finally admits as we sniff £27-a-pop Armagnac. “Who wants to borrow at 6.5% on yields of 4.5%? The debt team is being disbanded. A few guys are going to the equity side, as all-cash buyers now have the edge. Me? Out the door at five tonight.” I stiffen for the question. “Anything going at GBH?” “I’ll ask,” I lie.

Things at GBH are getting scary, with under-the-radar ‘letting go’ and a hiring freeze in all but name. I change the subject. “How can you afford this?” Marcus waves his company Amex and grins. ”Still working.” I hope it still will be at 5pm.