“Let’s meet at Nineteen Below in the Crowne Plaza hotel – we did the fit-outs for the place,” Melanie told me.
It turns out the place was one of the last ones in the UK to get Australian walnut walls and probably has one of the longest bars in London, after the revamped St Pancras station. It also sells vodka tonics for £7.25 a go.
So, what is there to chat about on a grim Tuesday evening? Blackberrys, of course. “Malcolm thinks it’s a fruit. He has no idea about technology,” Melanie informs me. “I don’t have to,” he excuses himself. “All the young ones are doing it for me. I’m the MD – all I have to do is show my face every now and then and tell everyone what to do."
"My four-year-old daughter knows more about programming our DVD player than me, it’s scary,” Martin One adds.
Martin Two is not impressed by the line of conversation. He’d rather share his tales from back in the days when he made a bundle from kitchen drawings: “People were crazy about them in the eighties.”
This reminds Melanie that she needs to get a shatter-proof kitchen. “They’ve discovered most arguments happen in the kitchen, so they’ve now made shatter-proof drawers and cupboard doors,” she says.
Malcolm is not as excited about the concept: “Do they also proof kitchens against angry wives throwing cutlery?” Er, nope.
What should Martin One call his baby son, due in a few weeks? Martin Three? No, Martin three is the gay guy in the Gina Shoes shop, the one on Bond Street that Barker fitted out as well. This was the most difficult time in Melanie’s life. “We were holding executive meetings in the shop, in between all these sparkling shoes, all in my size! I couldn’t concentrate to save my life.”
Nick found it equally hard to concentrate when the girls from Hollyoaks came to the opening of a clients’ karaoke bar in Manchester. “He was dancing in leather shorts and had every girl’s attention when he bragged about having designed the place,” Malcolm says.
But what Malcolm gets excited about is their contribution to T5. “We’re building BA’s VIP lounge, where the Beckhams will hang out. Every day, 6,000 people will be going in and out of there,” he says proudly.
Martin One also seems to be quite fond of his employer. “I really want to make one thing clear: we listen to our clients and value their feedback. The key word is transparency …” It may be the JDs taking hold, but he is clearly getting quite emotional and as he approaches Nick to give him a co-workerly peck on the cheek, Nick’s expression is more than clear: time to go home.
Chosen watering hole: Nineteen Below, Blackfriars
Ambience: swanky hotel bar with a 27.3-foot bar
Topics: fight-proof kitchen furniture, shoes, Lederhosen and Martins
Drinks drunk: 2 vodka cranberrys, 2 Becks, 3 Carlings, 2 Vodka Tonics, 1 Virgin Mary, 2 JD Cokes
Melanie Somerville marketing manager
Malcom Birchwood managing director
Martin (One) O’Keefe senior project manager
Martin (Two) Freeland project co-ordinator
Nick Cook design manager
David Laidlaw commercial director
Karolin Schaps Building