Soft. This is a tale of the triumph of God over Mammon, or at lest of hope over experience. Barely five years ago, the names of Peter Goldie, Julian Lee, Rusty Ashman or Cameron Brown would have been enough to blanch the heartiest of City cheeks. These were Four of the Horsemen of the Financial Sector Apocalypse: respectively the chief executive, chief operating officer and financial director of British and Commonwealth Holdings,and the chief executive of Abaco, a wholly-owned B and C subsidiary. B and C, you will recall, was the sort of institution described in the financial press as "aggressive": you may supply your own translation for this. Although two of the four, Lee and Brown, left B and C a couple of years before its spectacular implosion in June 1990 - the former to take charge of an MBO at Bricom and the latter to rethink his future, Lee, at least, remained a devotee of the B and C management style: that is to say, aggressive.
But what is this? Two brief years later, while the dust from B and C's collapse is still far from cleared and ex-chief executive John Gunn is busy trying to re-take the financial heights (in the form of a small business advisory service, partnered by one-time death dealer, Howard Hodgson), the Four ex-Horsemen have begun to look noticeably lamblike. Goldie, once Gunn's Hunnish number two at B and C, has taken himself off to University College, London: he is reading, of all things, philosophy. Last year, indeed, he came top of his class. You may take this as evidence of his conversion to the things of the spirit or as proof of his continued ruthlessness.
All of this looks positively vicious when compared with the lives currently being led by the remaining triumvirate, however. Ashman, apparently, if implausibly, an amateur painter since the age of 10, has gone professional. Still with his feet under the easel at Camden Art School, he has recently had his first professional show, at Burgh House, Hampstead: the Ashman oeuvre is described as "sensitive". Brown, meanwhile, has elected to go literary, and is now running a Knightsbridge-based publishing business called Collins and Brown. Among its specialities are books on needlepoint. It is, as Brown observes, "very different from the City". Most un-Citylike of all, however, is Lee, who is running a farm in West Sussex. To argue that it is merely a different way of getting one's hands dirty would be churlish indeed.