Currency trader

I am half an hour early for the midnight train at St P, so go to play the piano- my whole repertoire, as I have not memorised the Fauré yet. After, on the train, a man asks me what I was playing. The jazzy one. It was The Maple Leaf Rag, I tell him, and he notes that down on his phone. He wants to learn it: I have given him a target. He does not play the piano, but thinks playing that would be wonderful.

It must be wonderful, he says, to get into- is it like a meditative state, completely absorbed in the music? Memorising the movements is a very basic brain function, found in invertebrates, but communicating the emotion directly without words is lovely; and being with the music.

I join him, and we chat. A friend gave him the beautiful Sondergut backgammon set, a piece of suede with the points sewn on in leather, which rolls up around a zipped pocket for the dice and stones. I admire it, and propose going to a table, but he will use it first with her.

It was a wide ranging conversation. He has been reading a book, which he calls a history of the world- it would fit in your pocket, and covers certain incidents. The Black Death spread to people, he tells me, because the rats died of the cold and the fleas left them. The next chapter is on the Spanish Inquisition. Having had an exciting day and not sleeping well, I was nearly going to sleep. He mentions the two slits experiment, and we contemplate how the “atom” can go through both, or differ depending on whether it is being observed. He drops the word “metaphysics” a couple of times. He believes that under the reality we see, there is Chaos. I don’t like that thought. “Infinite possibility” perhaps, something more than is dreamed of in my philosophy-

When I said I had met an economist the day before, he said everything was based on Mathematics. “Love”, I challenged. He tried- Love depends on resources, which should be assessed mathematically.

At one point I said that if I think of being cold in the bathroom in the morning before showering, I tense up, but if I believe I can bear it for the necessary time and consciously relax, I can bear it. He says that if he immerses himself in a cold bath in the morning, just for thirty seconds, he will find himself warm for the rest of the day.

He is a currency trader. He assessed trends- he holds his hand out, palm down, and wiggles it: is the trend up, or down, sufficient to make clients money? Over whatever time period you consider, a day or a month. I thought these things were done by computer algorithms. No, he said, because the government is always trying to get one over on you, and will be able to detect and respond to the algorithms.

He does not accept Keynes. You have to pay your way, and pay your debts. You cannot live off credit. We are still living in a market bubble, he thinks.

He had a certain charm. I did not like him.

Degas, the cotton exchange

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