...for Interior Motives

Russell is running late. He joins us at the bar, wearing a tan, sheepskin-style jacket, to grab a quick pint before taking some clients to watch Arsenal play CSK Moscow at the Emirates Stadium.

“Why are you wearing that? You’re going to be sitting in a box, not out on the terraces,” mocks Aidan. Russell explains he’s “got to look the part”.

Talk turns to work. “Fit-out is a funny market,” says Aidan. “You can grow quickly, take on lots of work, hire many people, but then struggle with cash flow.”

Matthew, the group’s financial whiz-kid, hears the word “cash” and launches into a passionate monologue about where many companies go wrong: “They’re very competitive and grow rapidly. Their cash flow keeps them going, but when there’s a downturn or they take on a risky job, all of a sudden it’s curtains.”

Aidan laments that after 25 years in the business not looking for rapid growth, people are telling him his company is “not big enough”.

“There are companies who’ve taken risks and been successful,” he admits. “But you need luck.”

Talk moves back to sport. It emerges that Russell used to be a junior football manager. “We’d have dads having punch-ups on the touchline and people being hit with brollies,” he says.

“There’s none of that in thehockey fraternity – it’s very civilized,” says Aidan who coaches children’s hockey teams in his spare time.

“Fraternity?” laughs Russell.

“It’s like a frat club for little rich kids,” smirks Matthew.

“Football’s real – not false like hockey,” says Russell. The others don’t disagree with him.

Two of their colleagues, operations managers Philip Sellek and Mark Rudland, arrive and then head to the bar. They return with a pint of Hoegaarden for Russell instead of Carling and his face drops. “I don’t do Hoegaarden,” he cries. “I’m going to the football – I’ll be up weeing all evening and I’ll miss everything.”

There’s no sympathy from the others. Russell puts on a brave face and starts knocking it back. “I can barely fit my hand around the glass,” he moans.

Matthew says he doesn’t like London pubs – he thinks landlords don’t take care of their pipes. “I have to drink lager,” he says.

“I enjoy bitter, but wouldn’t buy it in a London pub,” agrees Russell.

“The only way to find a good pub is to get on a flight to Dublin,” intercepts Aidan, accentuating his Irish accent.

With that, Russell downs the last of his Hoegaarden – which he’s polished off surprisingly quickly.

“On with my Motty coat,” he says, provoking laughter as he makes his exit.

Chosen watering hole: The Samuel Pepys, Stew Lane, High Timber Street 

Ambience: Cosy and comfortable with views of the river and Tate Modern

Topic: Fit-out firms failing, pushy parents and the perfect pint Drinks drunk: Hoegaarden, Carling and rioja

Those present:

Aidan Mahoney managing director

Matthew Woodcock financial director

Russell Adamson business development manager

Lydia Stockdale Building magazine