“Future votes Boris!” declares David. It is the day after the hirsute MP for Henley finally announced his intention to stand for mayor of London, and already he seems to have the lighting design and manufacture vote sewn up.
“He’s a very clever guy,” Angela assures us, before David goes even further in his admiration for the Tory candidate. “I’m going to bleach my hair to match,” announces the (distinctly bald) managing director.
Not everybody is convinced. “He’s a personality,” says Mark, in a way that suggests this might not necessarily be a good thing.
But then, a little personality can go a long way in politics, particularly against an opponent who, according to Brad, may have lost some of his famous common touch. “Ken does get on the tube, but I saw him on there and he’d wrapped himself up to avoid getting recognised. We were all in shorts and T-shirts, and he was in a long coat with a scarf wrapped round his face.”
Mark is not prepared to believe Johnson’s PR skills are any more honed. “Did you see him turn up at the press conference with his bike? Nobody saw him ride the bike. It just looks good to say ‘yeah, I cycled from Henley’.”
Bikes are clearly on Mark’s mind. He and David are cycling from London to Paris in August for the British Poppy Appeal, and it is clear that a healthy sense of rivalry exists between the two.
“Mark thinks he’s Eddy Merckx in a suit,” David mutters.“He conned me. He said that with my lifestyle I couldn’t possibly cycle to Paris.” This, apparently, compelled him to try, despite the fact that he “hadn’t been on a bike for 37 years”.
Mark, who did the race last year and so has an air of underlying confidence, smiles quietly.
What is possibly more worrying for David is that a painful weekend pedalling to Paris seems to be all he’s got lined up by way of a summer holiday. “I’ve never taken my allowance,” he says. “This industry works too hard.”
Craig’s reluctance to go away this summer is a trickier problem to solve: “The thing about holidays is that I don’t want to come back. That’s why I don’t go.”
The consensus seems to be that we need to be a bit more European about our work/life balance, and take most of August off “like the French”, with longer lunch hours over the rest of the year. “An hour in the morning is worth two in the afternoon,” remarks Mark wisely, sipping his beer with the air of a man whose period of peak production was some hours ago.
So there you go Boris. Fewer cycling stunts and better working hours – the people of London
(or Croydon, in Brad’s case) demand it.
Chosen watering hole: Plateau Bar and Grill, Canary Wharf
Ambience: London has a go at being Manhattan
Topics: Boris Johnson, the disguises of Ken Livingstone, ill-advised cycling trips, working too hard
Drinks drunk: Many bottles of Becks, a bottle of Rosé
David Clements managing director
Angela Fawls-Gutteridge marketing manager
Mark Vincent sales director
Brad Terry business development division
Craig Masson head of design
Nick Jones Building