Last week Building ventured up to Edinburgh to meet RLF. This week, we have ventured five minutes up the road to meet ... RLF. Oh dear – a glitch in communication between reporters means the lucky company is our drinking buddy two weeks in a row. This week it’s the guys from the London branch enjoying a tipple and a rant.
After everyone has de-layered and the chairs surrounding us are piled with coats, gloves, scarves, bags and hats, Jon kicks off with: “Building sites are dangerous places. The main problem is that there’s too much red tape and a sense of individual responsibility has been taken away.”
“And work’s driven commercially these days,” chips in Steve. “The focus is not on health and safety as it is not related to money and there is therefore no incentive.”
“It’s shocking that is what we’ve come to. What does that say about society?” asks Claire-Lise. A moment’s reflection and we’re off again. “Look at Big Brother? What does that say about us?” asks Howard.
Steve is quick to jump in on the debate: “Well, it’s hit the nationals, reached India and really it’s just bullying, which is horrible, but has been part and parcel of every other Big Brother.”
“But should it be part and parcel?” asks Jon. “Should we accept it? My wife’s a teacher and her pupils are young and they watch it. It’s not a good example.”
“TV in general has a bad affect on children, I think,” says Steve. “When I was young it was 3:30 to 5:30 at the most. Now kids can watch it 24 hours a day on about a million channels.”
“When I was a child it took half an hour to even warm the TV up,” adds Jon. The rest of the table don’t know whether to believe this, and so the conversation moves on. “Well, I think it’s weird that we’re prepared to forget Iraq and Darfur to complain about Big Brother,” says Claire-Lise.
Jon says a more appropriate reality programme would be “Commuter” which would track travellers in and out of the capital and discover their gripes. “In Paris the system’s heavily subsidised. It’s a service for the public. Here it’s about making a shedload of money,” says Claire-Lise.
“When I was job hunting, I looked for a company on this side of London. It was part of my criteria as I couldn’t face the tube,” reveals Steve. The group decide that this is probably a deciding factor for most people when choosing a company.
At this point everyone begins to shuffle in their seats and look at their watches. The mention of public transport has reminded us that we need to get home, and soon we’re bundling back out into the cold, bravely marching off to begin the grim trek.
Jon Digweed partner
Howard Price associate
Steve Henigan associate
Claire-Lise Létoublon senior project manager
Emily Wright Building magazine
Chosen watering hole: Vic Naylors in Farringdon, London
Ambience: Post-work chill out bar during the week, pre-club stop-off at weekends
Subjects covered: Cranes, commuting and Big Brother
Drinks: Two Peronis, a gin and tonic, a vodka and coke and an orange juice