On the same day that the architect of the Gherkin announced the death of the skyscraper, it emerged that Little, Brown have paid a ‘high six-figure sum’ for a romance, set in 2008 just after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, between an out-of work-architect and a recently retired banker. So while we live through the consequences of the credit crunch – the Sure Start centres closing, the paramedics being sacked, the libraries disappearing – it seems we want to relive the moment in a cosy rom-com mode.
A recent movie hit in France, Ma part de gâteau (I fought for a seat on Sunday night in a cinema on the boulevard Saint Germain, five weeks after it opened), takes a French banker based in London (Banker’s Posh English Boss: ‘You ought not to be very nice to do this job.’ Banker: ‘Don’t worry, I’m not.’) and makes him fall in love with a single mother of three from Dunkirk. He’s moved to Paris to open an office and she irons his shirts, knots his tie, serves his appalling friends champagne, accompanies him on a work dinner with his English colleagues, inexplicably pretending – to ‘hilarious’ effect – that she’s Russian. When they fall into bed together it turns out he’s the reason she’s had to stoop to cleaning – his firm closed the factory she worked in for years in Dunkirk. In the rather wonderfully un-Pretty Womanish conclusion, she lures him to the grim seaside town where the workers set on him and chase him down the beach into the black water.