This week, Building’s pint buying is over-shadowed by a football match
It’s virtually impossible to get a job at DouglasWood, apparently, if you’re not mad about football. At least that’s the view of self-avowed football ignoramus Philippa. “Somehow I slipped through the net,” she says, screwing her face up slightly at the unpleasant notion she might follow a stupid sport like football. When she repeats this to Steve later (Arsenal fan with a signed Dennis Bergkamp shirt), he tries to dispute it for a second, not particularly convincingly, with Chris (Man Utd season-ticket holder, married to a Chelsea fan).
The subject is relevant because of the venue. Up until one day before the drink, we’d been supposed to be gathering in the upmarket surrounds of the plush but trendy Hoxton Hotel, just down the road from DouglasWood’s new Shoreditch offices (“Down in the ’Ditch’,” as Philippa refers to it). However, this was changed, once Steve realised the clash of dates: the same night as the replay of his beloved Arsenal vs Leeds in the FA Cup.
Hence we’re in a very crowded, quite dark sports pub that is part of the Great Eastern Hotel at Liverpool Street station, with the mix of after-hours City-boys and bewildered tourists you’d expect from such a location. But it does have a big screen and Sky Sports. Job done for Steve.
The location is appropriate for other reasons too. Just next door is a champagne bar, apparently, where the three, along with a smattering of other early employees, celebrated the firm’s creation back in 2008. DouglasWood, a bringing together of the former chief executives of the Housing Corporation and Newham council respectively, provides recruitment, mentoring and consultancy for councils and developers around regeneration and social housing. “We celebrated in a way appropriate to our client base,” quips Chris, with a grin.
Then follows a debate about whether boutique or bespoke is the best word to describe the business. “Boutique sounds a bit small,” says Philippa. “It’s the personal touch that’s important,” says Steve. Bespoke is finally settled on.
As the night continues, it turns out that although Philippa may not be a football fan, there is one sport she’s interested in: boxing. Philippa spars in her local gym, and has even turned down the prospect of a career in boxing (when she tells me she fights men and wins, I believe it) to continue her work at DouglasWood. “Chris told me I couldn’t come to work with bruises on my face, so I can’t do professional bouts.” It’s clear though that what she learns in the ring she takes into her work. “Steve and Chris have been my mentors. But I also take that level of fight into my day to day work.”
At this point the game kicks off. Steve is able to leave the pub a happy, and somewhat relieved, man at the end of the game. 3-1 to the Arsenal.
Chosen watering hole:
The George, Liverpool Street
Arsenal vs Leeds, the origins of DouglasWood, and female amateur boxing
Nine pints of Tiger lager, four gin and tonics, two glasses of white wine, portion of chips and a plate of mini sausages
Who was there:
Steve Douglas, senior director
Chris Woods, senior director
Philippa Cartwright, consultant
Joey Gardiner, Building