The Attractiveness Scale

Written By: anonymous - Oct• 08•11

Malcolm takes a holiday (well, a ‘mini-break’ to Bournemouth…) to recover from the ‘stresses of the Haliday trial.

“I need to get away from things for a few days,” he tells me. “It’s been a very challenging time.”

If that was the basis for taking leave, I should be off for several months, years even but I am afforded no such luxury; it’s straight into phase two of the risk assessment programme for me.

“Ah, Helen, there you are,” Carlton oils his way into my office, “I was beginning to think you were avoiding me.”

I was. “I have been very busy with my tax case.”

“So I hear, but now that’s finished you can devote yourself to me again.”

He makes me sound like a Vestal Virgin.

“My client was very impressed with the risk assessment report you and Simon produced,” he goes on. “So I have decided to take it to the next level.”

“Wow, that’s marvellous news,”

Like most psychopaths, he has a problem reading emotions and fails to register this as sarcasm.

“It is, isn’t it?” he smirks, “And now, we have been asked to help them to implement some of the changes.”

“We’re going back?”

“Yes,” he nods, “Margaret has asked us to review the new compliance manual.”

“I thought Margaret hated ‘fancy lawyers’?”

“She does, but you seem to have made a good impression on her. I have already spoken to Simon and he has started work on some of it. You can do the rest. I’ll see you in my office at 4 o’clock.”

And, with that, he swaggers out; leaving a trail of thick musky aftershave behind. I open my desk drawer and check for the list of his former victims which Margaret gave me, The Castration Club, as she called it.  It’s still there; with a copy at home and another in handbag (for emergency protection).  I have never properly examined it before; I pull it out and scan it.  There are sixteen women; the only one I recognise is, of course, Amelia. Margaret has placed an x or a y next to them to indicate whether they slept with (X) or sued (Y) him. It’s about 50/50.

I decide to try to trace a couple and am just logging on to Find a Solicitor when Jane saunters in.

“What are you up to?”

“I’m tracing Carlton’s former conquests,” I explain.

That peaks her interest; she joins me behind the desk and we begin the investigation together.

“Try some of the Y’s she suggests; I’ll be interested to see what happened to them.”

“Susannah Delacey,” I type.

There is no trace of her on the Roll of Solicitors.

“Emily Dexalling?”

“No trace of her either.”

“Lydia Forsythe?”

“Nope, can’t find her.”

“What about Harriet Smythson-Gibson? She’s got to be there with a name like that.”

But, no, she’s not.

“Do you think he’s bumped them off?” she gives me one of her wide-eyed conspiracy looks.

To be honest, I wouldn’t put it past him.  But murdering eight or nine grown women might be a little messy; and he doesn’t like that.

“They might have changed their names,” I venture.

“To escape him you mean?” she laughs. “Who could blame them? Try Google-ing them, just to be sure.”

So I do, and then, an interesting thing happens.  All of those names I was unable to trace via The Law Society appear on Linkedin or Twitter or Facebook; two even seem to have their own websites.

Harriet Smythson-Gibson is a reflexologist; Susannah Delacey works for an animal charity; Lydia Forsythe seems to be a journalist and Emily Dexalling writes children’s books.

“None of them is a lawyer,” I observe.

“Check the others.”

We can’t locate one of them the rest are either: teaching; travelling or taking time out.

Jane lets out a low whistle. “Wow, one stint with Carlton and they all ran screaming from the profession.”

“I don’t blame them,” I sniff, “I spend hours fantasising about my alternative career.”

“How’s that going by the way?” She means my foray into horror fiction writing.


“Despite all the material?”

“Because of all the material; if I set it in a law firm, no one would believe the extent of the terrors!”

She smiles. “It could be extreme horror; only suitable for hard core fans.”

“It will have to be.”

“You might be able to incorporate this into your writing,” she suggests. “I wonder what happened to the X’s?”

That is even more bizarre; four of them are partners in big City firms; two work in-house in investment banks and one has a management consultancy.

“Someone should do a thesis on this!” she says excitedly. “It’s like some weird science experiment: all those who sued him have retired, all those who slept with him have excelled.”

“Perhaps that’s because they were more ruthless to begin with?”

“Like Miranda,” we both say at once.

“Or perhaps,” I muse, “it is true what he says: he really can advance my career. He’ll scratch my back if I scratch his, so to speak.”

“Yeah,” she laughs. “If you want to get ahead, go to bed! But it doesn’t have to be Carlton; pick any of the balding, middle-aged beasts and make them think they’re Adonis.”

“It’s repugnant,” I pull a face.

“It’s The City.”

It surely is.  But it gets me thinking; what if roles were reversed? Would things be different if women were in charge?  Would there be hoards of cougars preying on innocent young boys? I phone Margaret about the Risk Assessment and decide to ask her what she thinks.

Of course it would be different!” she shrieks with laughter.  “Women don’t need constant ego stroking.  They much more discerning than men.  And organised.  And efficient.  And productive. And sensible. If Women ruled the world it would be a far, far better place.”

But I’m not so convinced. Imagine if Jane was in charge?  She might not prey on young boys but she would turn the place into a Narnian winter.

Liz has another take on things. “The thing is,” she says matter-of-factly, “There are far more attractive women in The City than there are attractive men; maybe if we were surrounded by gorgeous young boys we might have the same temptation, but we’re not, so we don’t. It’s easy to resist the uglies.”

Spoken like a women who has just bagged herself a catalogue model husband.

All of this gets me thinking and, more interestingly, observing.  I find myself reviewing my colleagues and rating them on an attractiveness scale.  Tarquin scores a 4; Simon a 5, Malcolm a 3, Clive a 5, The Boss a 6 and Fancy Man Dan a 7.5.  I tell Jane to do the same and then we compare scores. She has awarded: Tarquin 1, Simon 3, Malcolm 2, Clive 4, The Boss 5 and Fancy Man Dan a 4.

“You think The Boss is more attractive than Dan?!” I am astonished.

“Yes,” she nods, “And you would too, if you have to share a room with him.  His physical attractiveness is far outstripped by his mental ugliness.”

“And what about Tarquin?” I don’t know why I am sticking up for him. “It’s not fair to give him a 1. With a bit of restyling he could be quite handsome.”

“Pah!” she sniffs. “He was lucky to get that after all the nasty things he’s done to me over the years, in my eyes he is close to repugnant.”

And then it dawns on me: the true difference between City men and City women is that male attractiveness is about far more than outward appearances.  It has to be; because the pickings are so slim!


















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