Excerpt from LS Hilton's "Maestra"--which touches upon what most people who want to break into finance at the highest levels, but don't have the pedigree, undergo in their chameleon like dance to fit the right mould, smooth put the rough pointy edges, and be a smooth member of the inside. But, there's 1000 codes, invisible, only known by insiders, so most people can be fooled but not everyone.
I had never really seen people who looked like that, let alone a place that looked like that. They belonged together, those beings and those buildings; all those generations of effortless entitlement melded honeyed stone and honeyed skin to an architectural perfection in every time-polished detail. I had lovers at college, yes, but if you look the way I look and, frankly, like the things I like, maybe girlfriends won't ever be your thing. I told myself I didn't need them, and besides, between the library and my part-time jobs there hadn't been much time for anything except reading. I didn't stick to the books on my course list: along with Gombrich and Bourdieu I read hundreds of novels, scouring them for details of the customs of the strange country of class, of how to speak, the vocabulary that marks out those who belong to the invisible club from those who don't. I worked endlessly at my languages: French and Italian were the tongues of art. I read Le Monde and Foreign Affairs, Country Life and Vogue and Opera Magazine and Tatler and polo magazines and Architectural Digest and the Financial Times. I taught myself about wine, about rare book bindings and old silver: I went to all the free recitals I could, first for duty and then for pleasure; I learned the correct use of the dessert fork and how to imitate the accent on which the sun has never set. I knew better by then than to try to pretend I was something I was not, but I thought if I became a good enough chameleon, no one would ever think to ask.
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