IT was that time of year again, yesterday – the time for ICAP to unleash the creative instincts of its traders in a four-floor extravaganza of frenzied fancy dress, Flintstone toy cars and beer bottles.

The annual ICAP charity day is by now something of a global institution, a day on which the firm’s thousands of traders all over the world throw on costumes and trade their hearts out for charity – with 100 per cent of the revenues (last year around £11m) shared between 200 charities.

With each trading desk adopting a different, strictly enforced costume code, every floor of the firm’s Broadgate building was awash with sweating traders in lycra jumpsuits, squirrel costumes, military uniform, geisha kimonos, zombie garb – you name it.

And there were famous faces to match: Prince Charles and William both popped by to place a couple of trades on euro interest rate butterfly swaps and carbon emissions allowances. Daniel Craig and former-Dr Who David Tennant had a go on the phone lines and even The Capitalist made a few million over the phone to a guy in Athens.

Far from the hustle and bustle of the swaps desk, traders on the pan-European high-frequency platform BlockCross, placed their bets in calm silence to match their priestly garb, presided over by their head of desk, the serene “Pope Daimon”.

But the day didn’t go by without some tears: after a collective decision that all the traders on the tankers derivatives desk would dress up as bananas, one red-haired member was distraught to discover that his comrades had played a cruel prank.

Instead of the anticipated banana suit, a carrot costume arrived. Our ginger trader was not amused – so unamused, in fact, that he point-blank refused to wear the suit.
Tanker derivatives traders can be so mean.

If you thought the Grinch stole Christmas, think again. According to a report by the Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA) released today, George Osborne nicked it. The TPA has crunched the numbers and found that, on average, each British family will pay £283 of tax on Christmas essentials.

The turkey and brussel sprouts might be free of levies but you’ll still be paying £24 in tax if you want to buy an “old time” plush Santa suit, £21 on a visit to Santa’s magical kingdom and £3 on that essential zhu zhu pets deluxe funhouse set.

And then there’s travel costs. With an average round-trip car journey of 121 miles between Christmas Eve and Boxing day, it means the UK will clock up £163m in fuel taxes.
But look on the bright side: with VAT?rising by 2.5 per cent in January, this Christmas will be your cheapest for a while!

If you’re hankering for a place to throw some shapes next week, you needn’t look far. Jazz FM and Aberdeen Asset Management are going to be holding free Christmas swing concerts every lunchtime right in the middle of the City in Exchange Square from Monday to Wednesday.

The Henry Armburg Jennings big band and singer Atila will be blaring out such cheery tunes as Let It Snow (only not when I’ve got a flight to catch) and Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire as well as a few of the more classic carols.

And if you want to see the whole 18-piece band, be sure to show up before 7.45pm on Tuesday, when they’ll hold a one-off evening concert.