For Places for People

“The Jerusalem artichoke is an underrated vegetable.” Tim Machin is one of millions of people who tuned in to Grow Your Own Vegetables rather than Celebrity Big Brother last Friday.

James is persevering with Leo Sayer & Co, but admits he’s finding it a struggle. “The celebrities this year are disappointing. I don’t think they got the ones they wanted.”

“You mean you’re actually watching it?” asks Tim.

“I prefer Strictly Come Dancing,” says David, quietly, so he’s heard only by James.

Tim isn’t up for talking about Jane (sic) Goody, so turns the conversation back to living off the land.

“In the future, the world will be divided into people who watch Ray Mears and those who can’t live without Sainsbury’s,” he says.

Peter managed to catch a programme the others missed. “It was about houses in Norway made from panels insulated with recycled materials,” he explains, Eco homes – now this is Places for People’s area. A 10 minute rant about the eco-features on developments they’re working on ensues.

But the conversation suddenly becomes too work-related for Tim. “We’re boring gits,” he declares. “Even at home, Peter’s watching films about housing.”

He lets his imagination run wild about what housing will be like when climate change really kicks in. “I wonder if we will move to Mediterranean techniques – flat roofs and ways of storing water?” he wonders. Then, seemingly out of the blue, he works his way around the table asking: “Have you ever driven in the snow? Have you?” Only he and Peter have.

“I bought a sheep-skin coat when I first started work. I haven’t worn it for 10 years,” he says, to demonstrate his slightly hidden point. “One day the world will be divided into those who can drive in the snow and those who can’t,” he says.

“You’re very apocalyptic, Tim,” says David.

Concerned that this is doing little for Places for People’s image, David changes the subject to Morrissey, who wants to enter the Eurovision Song Contest.

“Morrissey?” ponders Peter. “Isn’t he in ‘men behaving badly’?” No, that’s Neil Morrissey, the others inform him, though he did sing “Bob the Builder”. Peter is bruised by this public demonstration of his musical ignorance. “Did you know?” he asks Tim, who didn’t, but “just kept his mouth shut”.

“I like Kooks. Do you know them?” asks Peter.

The youngsters correct him: “You mean ‘the’ Kooks.”

“You haven’t heard of Kooks, have you?” he asks Tim, who admits he hasn’t. Peter may have lost the battle, but he won the war.

Tim Machin senior business development manager
Peter Barrie business development manager
James Anderson graduate trainee
David Mills senior press officer
Lydia Stockdale Building

Chosen watering hole: The Broughton in Milton Keynes 
Ambience: Modern, gaudy, carpeted local boozer 
Topics: Vegetables, driving in the snow, and who is Morrissey? 
Drinks: One pint of IPA, one pint of Carling, one Coke and two Diet Cokes