Editor's Notes: Lloyd's has bigger things to worry about than staff nipping out for a drink

Christian May
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Lloyd’s of London has implemented a 9-5 booze ban (Source: Getty)

When I started working at a Westminster PR firm eight years ago, I had to learn how to drink at lunch.

It wasn’t exactly a hardship. We were a small office (just three people when I joined) and every day we would decamp to the Italian next-door and see off a few bottles of red. We won Customer of the Year, every year – with the prize being a case of wine.

In my first few weeks I had to fight against the urge to fall asleep in the afternoons but pretty quickly my stamina increased and I was regularly enjoying what Nigel Farage refers to as a “proper f**king lunch” before returning to the office for a full and productive afternoon. Such a revelation may shock you, but I doubt it. I was young, good at my job and enjoying myself.

Read more: Britain’s boozers boost bottom line

Times change, of course. As do attitudes to alcohol, and I think we were probably riding the tail end of Westminster’s boozy lunch culture. You can still find them, but it’s not quite the same. A similar shift has occurred in the City, with the new Lloyd’s of London 9-5 booze ban serving as a fresh example.

One veteran of that particular market reminisces about the “13 pint lunch” at the Lamb in Leadenhall market. Another tells me that 30 years ago he would regularly find people asleep in the loos after lunch. There is a difference, of course, between that kind of excess and the simple pleasure of a pint at lunch with colleagues or clients.

Read more: RIP to the humble business lunch?

As one top City PR man tells me, Lloyd’s is finally catching up with a stricter approach taken by many Square Mile institutions, though “like the classic recent convert, they’ve opted for extremism”.

A total booze ban in an office that literally has a huge bar in its basement does seem a bit, er, rum. Besides, as one senior insurance figure puts it, Lloyd’s has bigger things to worry about than whether staff fancy a drink – such as how to respond to “too much money chasing not enough business”. Perhaps incoming chairman Bruce Carnegie-Brown can thrash that out over a pint...

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City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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