‘Burns and the Bankers’ by Helen Simpson

From Simpson’s collection Hey Yeah Right Get A Life (my favourite, along with Constitutional), Burns and the Bankers will induce a groan of fellow feeling in anyone who’s ever thought they might expire with boredom and discomfort at a corporate do. But although we are firmly in the territory of the affluent professional classes, Simpson’s portrait of a woman trapped in a swaggeringly masculine environment which she both intuits and boggles at could be transplanted to numerous other settings in which a pantomime of sociability is enacted despite being, apparently, to everyone’s detriment.

(Hey Yeah Right Get A Life is published by Vintage. The story is also in Simpson’s 2012 Selected Stories, A Bunch of Fives

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