… for Hurley Palmer Flatt

We are in a popular City watering hole, and it’s not easy to find a table at first, but luckily one becomes vacant and we dive for it.

The Hurley Palmer Flatt lot are in high spirits already. On the way to the pub they’ve been chatting about new year’s resolutions, but it quickly becomes apparent that none of them really make any. Ever.

“I never make them because I’d just break them,” reasons Stuart, foolishly leaving himself open to suggestions. Right on cue, Nick interjects: “Can I suggest you get more sleep – look at him.”

Resigned to ridicule, Stuart does think of a way to improve his life in 2007: “I must stop buying tan coloured trousers.”

Ever the responsible boss, Paul F is the most upbeat about resolutions, although it soon becomes clear that he has a different slant on the subject to most people. “Everyone always focuses on the negative ones like stopping smoking,” he says while everyone nods and grunts in agreement. “So let’s think about the more positive ones – drink more, smoke more,” he laughs.

While we’re on the new year theme, it is noted that the second Tuesday of January is said to be the day when on average most relationships end, because it is, after all, a time for reflection and new beginnings.

Stuart suggests that as a positive response to that, Building should run a “lonely hard-hats” column for those in the industry looking for love. Many dodgy innuendos ensue, so it is up to the boss, Paul F, to move things on, deftly turning the conversation to money management.

It is comforting to hear the managing director of a building services and engineering consultancy can be as ill-disciplined as the next man when it comes to personal finances. “It’s different in business, but in terms of running your home it doesn’t matter how much you earn – you spend it. I was always overdrawn – always.”

Nick thinks that women take more efficient control of the purse strings because they are “risk averse”. Stuart heartily disagrees: “You can’t say that all women are risk averse based on your wife.”

The two cannot agree, so the subject turns to a more controversial one – which celebrities they most look like.

Paul R comes out of it worst, likened to Eastenders character Phil Mitchell and comedian Harry Hill. Paul F is gleefully told he looks like Tory politician Michael Portillo and Tony Hadley, lead singer of Spandau Ballet.

“Yeah, Paul’s being lined up for a stand-in role at the Diana memorial gig,” adds Nick. Everyone laughs, and it’s time for another round …

Chosen watering hole: The Counting House in the City 
Ambience: Full to the rafters with the post-work City crowd 
Topics: New year’s resolutions, managing your finances, celebrity lookalikes 
Drinks: Six pints of Kronenbourg and two bottles of rioja

Paul Flatt group managing director
Paul Roche director, electrical
Stuart Bowman divisional director, energy
Nick Syson divisional director, IT and communications
Sophie Eastwood PR director, The Holistic Group
Angela Monaghan Building magazine