The staff of Duggan Morris are chatting excitedly about their competition win of a visitor centre at Liverpool Bay as I arrive. That is, they would be had this meeting occurred last week.
In fact, it was more than six weeks ago that Building took Duggan Morris for a pint, but such is the whirlwind nature of construction-and-alcohol-related journalism that I’ve only just got round to writing it up.
My memory is somewhat hazy, but studious notes from the evening help me fill in the blanks. So let me take you back to a time when freezing winds lashed the capital, Leona Lewis was top of the charts, and Edward Cullinan was yet to receive his Royal Gold Medal from the Queen.
“Apparently, his sketching is fantastic,” says David. “People I know say in lectures he will just draw onto a projector. It’s meant to be awesome.”
Did you hear what he said about Prince Charles, I ask. (It was the kind of thing people asked back then.) Grace is dismissive: “I don’t see what all the fuss is about. I don’t think anyone particularly listens to what he has to say anyway.”
A friend of Susie’s has worked on Poundbury, the Prince’s traditional village in Dorset. “It’s absolutely bizarre,” she says. “He’s had to learn all this stuff about doric columns and architraves. Really useful stuff like that.”
The respectable male:female ratio at the table means talk soon turns to clothes, particularly the problem of what to wear on site.
“You never know what to wear when you’re taking clients on a site visit,” complains Emily. “You can’t wear a dress, but you don’t want to wear jeans. It’s difficult.”
Footwear is an issue for Susie: “If only they invented high heels with stainless steel toe-caps,” she says, dreamily.
The conversation moves on, with grim predictability, to matters of love. After all, Valentine’s Day is just round the corner. David is cynical: “A girl I know put all her details on one of those dating sites saying who she was and what she was up to. It was all fine until her boyfriend found out.”
A friend of Grace’s had more success online. “It worked really well for her,” she says, wistfully. “Clearly there are exceptions.”
Indeed there are, as partners Joe and Mary will testify. “When are you going to have children so we can make Mary and Joseph jokes,” teases Andreas.
Joe doesn’t look too keen. He recently visited a maternity ward. “It was terrifying, all these kids wrapped up in blankets, row by row,” he says. “It was like a scene out of the Matrix.”
I think we then moved on to human body warmth powering sustainable houses, but my memories – like this article – end there.
Chosen watering hole: William IV, Shoreditch
Ambience: Youth hostel dining room lacquered white
Topics: Prince Charles, clothes, dating, babies
Drinks drunk: 4 G&T, 4 Staropramen, 4 Guinness, 4 Leffe, 2 vodka tonic, 2 red wine, 1 white wine, 1 sparkling water
Mary Duggan director
Joe Morris director
Grace Craddock, Pete Grove architects
Grant Shepherd, Andreas Schelling, Susie Hyden, Emily Thompson architectural assistants
Dan Stewart Building