It’s still just about August and Building is doing the honours in a pub in Architects’ Gulch (aka Clerkenwell) with Metropolitan Workshop
The setting is appropriate: EC1 probably has the highest density of architects in the known world. Idly, I wonder just how much of the world’s land mass has been masterplanned within this postal district.
Unlike the rest of the cricket-following public, we are not talking about whether England gained the Ashes by hard work or theft. No, we are talking about something far more important: the results of the London Architects Softball League, which is held in Regent’s Park each summer.
This is not, alas, a happy subject. Metropolitan Workshop are still bruised from their encounter with Kohn Pedersen Fox. “They annihilated us,” sighs Johnny. “They took it really seriously. They had matching caps and everything.”
Next week, the team is facing the might of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. Does the American pedigree make a difference? “They say they’re better at baseball than softball,” says Nick. “Seems pretty similar to me.”
Some architects even bring in ringers, says Neil. “I remember playing BDP when they were working on NikeTown. They had a suspiciously large number of Americans on the team, and some of them even had softball shoes. We beat them in a best of five, but they wanted to play on.” Until when? “Until they won, basically.”
Despite England’s success in the Ashes, the gentleman’s game does not hold much attraction for most of those around of the table. “Someone once told me,” muses Neil, “that the architecture at Lord’s had to be interesting to give people something to look at during Test matches.”
Warming to the theme, Johnny – an Irishman and, one could assume, unschooled in the finer points of cricket – continues: “Someone once gave me the rules. It was a whole paragraph of words I didn’t understand. It sounded like something out of Harry Potter.”
Nick doesn’t have much confidence that the Ashes win will herald a golden age of English sporting success. “It’s just not in the English psyche. We’re good at inventing games, but not so good at playing them. What we need to do is invent a new game that we can be the best in the world at.”
Although nobody claims to be a fan of football, there is speculation that Australia will shortly become world-beaters at the game. “They’re just so damn dogged; it’s only a matter of time,” complains Rupert.
The origins of Australia’s rise to footballing greatness go back to Terry Venables’ appointment as team coach in 1996, says Duncan. He is convinced that El Tel’s job was part of an FA sabotage plot that backfired. “I can imagine them saying: ‘Venables’ll ruin them,’” he says. “Couldn’t even get that right, could he?”
Venue: The Green
Clerkenwell Ambience: Permanent festival of foreign beers inhabited by creative media types
Topics of conversation: Softball vs cricket, the future for Australian football, Terry Venables
Drinks drunk: 4 Peronis, 1 Guinness, 1 Innis & Gunn beer, 1 vodka soda
Rachel Broadbent architectural assistant
Neil Deely director
Johnny McKenna architect
Nick Phillips architect
Duncan Thomas architectural assistant
Rupert Walshe architect
Dan Stewart Building