Tonight’s jaunt happens to coincide with London’s tube strike, so just getting to the venue presents a challenge

It’s just off Oxford Street, about three miles from the office so I cycle. This turns out to be a good call, as the pavements are so jammed with people waiting for buses I feel like I am in the Tour de France, being cheered down the Champs-Élysées.

It’s the first balmy evening for a few days so we stand outside the pub on the pavement in proper central London drinking-after-work style. Naturally the first topic of conversation is how everyone got to work that morning. Both Richard and Jenny did a long-distance commute, from Newcastle and Blackburn respectively, but Adrian cycled from his home in Brixton – for the first time since he moved to London.

“It was okay until I got to the Embankment, then it got dodgy as there were so many pedestrians stepping into the road,” he says. I know exactly how he feels: I’ve been cycling in London for eight years and dozy pedestrians yacking on their phones or isolated from the world with their iPods still put the fear of God into me.

I’ve been cycling in London for eight years and dozy pedestrians still put the fear of God into me

Now Adrian’s done it once, would he do it again? “No, I live near the Victoria line, which is really convenient, and it’s not that crowded,” he says. Would Jenny cycle? “If I cycled to work I would have to bring my hairdryer and everything else; it’s easier for men.” Richard just gives me a look which says, “No way”.

Being architects, our bunch are a serious lot. The conversation swiftly moves onto school design, then the subject of getting genuine benefits from investment into public services.

One of Richard’s first jobs was designing porches for council tenants in Newcastle. “You were designing some where the residents had been unemployed for two or three generations,” he says. “What would these people rather have? Some investment in job opportunities or a cover to keep the rain off when they unlock their front door?”

Adrian lurches forward and sends Jenny’s wine glass smashing to the ground

Jenny is appalled at the news that Ronaldo has been signed by Real Madrid for £80m. “That would pay for four schools and provide education for 20,000 students,” she muses.

At this point Richard spills his pint on the ground for the second time this evening, prompting Adrian to lurch forward and knock Jenny’s wine glass off the cigarette bin it’s resting on, sending it smashing to the ground. “I can see we are going to get a really good write-up,” laughs Richard.

Our attention is then distracted by a weird-looking car with a pole attached to its roof and a camera on the end. “That’s one of those Google street mapping cars,” pipes up Richard. It transpires he is pictured on Google’s street map in his car between Liverpool and Manchester. It’s just as well he is good at spotting camera cars as the one over the road turns out to be a traffic enforcement vehicle. This is Westminster after all.

Adrian announces he has to go home for a house meeting with his flatmates. “It’s a nice evening so I’m looking forward to the ride home,” he says. As it’s beginning to get dark I get ready for my ride home too – by now the crowds have all dispersed so it’s an easy trip back.

Venue: The Cock, Great Portland Street

Ambience: Traditional West End after-work gulper

Topics of conversation: Tube strike, school design and  Ronaldo’s transfer fee

Drinks drunk: four pints of lager, two pints of bitter and two glasses of white wine

Richard Wise director
Adrian Timmins architectural graduate
Jenny Thomas director of research
Thomas Lane Building