Mark Herrmann, a senior in-house lawyer at multinational company Aon, has recently moved to London – and yesterday blogged about his shock at how much he’s being charged for his new flat in "by no means the best part of town".
The source of Herrmann's confusion – which has led him to fork out rent for a flat in a building he describes as "by no means the nicest" but is apparently valued at almost £2,000 per square foot – seems to be a chat he had with a fun-loving native when he was fresh off the plane. The joker told him: "Today, unless you have inherited wealth or bought your home long ago, most senior partners at London firms can’t afford to live anywhere near the City. Partner pay just won’t cover the cost."
Herrmann goes on to explain that what he's paying for his new gaff is "ten times what you’ll pay for great space in Chicago and something like three times what you’ll pay for nice space in New York."
Despite viewing evidence online which correctly states that London actually isn't all that more expensive that New York, Herrmann refuses to countenance that he may have been scammed, reasoning that either "London’s gone up recently, or the unit in my building was recently upgraded, or something."
Concluding that he's actually scored a pretty good deal, law's Bill Bryson proceeds to relay his anthropological discoveries to his readers back home:
"Senior partners at major London law firms can’t afford to live! Well, not quite: But senior partners at many major London law firms can’t afford to live in London itself...
"From an American’s perspective, everything in London is nauseatingly expensive (or 'quite dear,' as the locals so quaintly put it). But the cost of housing goes far beyond 'nauseatingly expensive'; it’s eye-poppingly, grab-your-chest-and-drop-to-the-ground, out of sight. It leaves partner pay in the dust"
Elsewhere in his blog, Herrmann – whose ascent of the corporate ladder at Aon seems increasingly remarkable the more you read – complains about dialling UK phone numbers:
"Stare at all the damned 'plus' signs and numbers in parentheses. Dial some random cross-section of the numbers you’re looking at. Get a 'fast busy' signal. Try twice more, to similar effect. Curse. Call the operator at your law firm and ask the operator to connect you to the number."
He wraps up with a bizarre reflection on British AutoCorrect software, which he struggles to comprehend is set to correct according to British spellings.
"Or maybe I’ll explain how frustrating it is to have AutoCorrect software actually incorporate errors into your documents, by 'correcting', for example, 'subsidize' to “subsidise,” as happened just three paragraphs ago."
Any con artists, pickpockets or other types of criminals looking to make a quick buck may want to make their way over to Aon's City offices on 8 Devonshire Square, London, EC2M 4PL.