David Morley Architects
Ever-resourceful, the architects have managed to locate a table in the busy bar and lug it outside so we can enjoy the late afternoon sunshine.
Procuring enough chairs takes a bit more time, but with their persuasion and project management skills, they soon have us all perched around the table on the pavement, supping our drinks European-stylee.
After a short pause, Helen O bites the bullet and offers up her opinion. “I think it’s a good idea,” she says, avoiding curious gazes from her colleagues. “We’re working on a school and the contractor has put cameras up on the building site – it’s a really good idea.”
We’re talking about the latest phenomenon sweeping local councils – lampposts with CCTV cameras that shout at you if you drop litter on the street or do anything vaguely anti-social. They’ve been trialled in Middlesbrough, hailed a raging success and may soon be coming to a town near you.
“It’s a bit like Disneyland, isn’t it?” says Jonathan. “Everything is observed and slightly surreal.”
Ben declares that, actually, the shouting lampposts could be rather fun. “You could play a game to see how angry you could make them – go around winding lamp posts up,” he grins. “Y’know, make ‘em shout a bit.”
Gavin suggests that there should be a microphone on the lamppost so you can yell back. Everyone thinks this is very funny.
But David is struggling with his conscience on this one. “On one hand, it’s just a substitute for people on the streets, but does that mean we have to accept we have failed on that front and turned to machines? You could say camaras stop people dropping litter but is it right to resort to this? Where do you draw the line?”
“CCTV cameras on site?”
Helen A pipes up, although she probably wishes she hadn’t as Ben and Gavin swoop in to disagree.
“We could use them to check on the builders,” Gavin says with a glint in his eye. “We could see if they were following our drawings or not.”
“Or slagging off the architect!” Ben chips in. The Helens, David and Jonathan chuckle quietly to themselves.
At this point, Jonathan draws our attention to a lamppost across the road, leaning at a precarious angle towards the table. We all turn to peer.
“Maybe it’s trying to listen to what we’re saying,” Jonathan suggests. As he says this, the sun disappears behind a cloud and we all turn quietly back to our drinks.
Chosen watering hole: Deux Beers Cafe Bar, Farringdon, London
Ambience: Buzzy bar populated by trendy local workers
Topic: Talking lampposts
Drinks: Three pints of bitter, two glasses of white wine, one pint of Stella and one vodka and orange
David Morley partner
Jonathan Wilson partner
Gavin Pearce associate
Ben Rees associate
Helen Osborn associate
Helen Arvanitakis marketing manager
Vikki Miller Building