… for Gleeds

“It’s a mix between polo and lacrosse – polocrosse.”

It’s Tuesday evening in anelegant West End bar and Tom is describing his favourite sport.

“A guy in New Zealand wants to sell me a horse, so he’s paying for me to go there and play,” he says.

His colleagues won’t be joining him in the Jilly Cooper set. Laura prefers netball, though it doesn’t seem to like her much. “I only started recently and I’ve already sprained my ankle,” she frowns. She plans to run a marathon in April. “But I’m not a fitness freak,” she assures us.

Julian brings up the true sport of kings – pool – recalling that Building once beat Gleeds in a pool tournament. “We demand a rematch,” he shouts.

“So what’s your favourite drink?” asks Tom, swiftly changing the subject. Laura favours a cosmopolitan.

“You watch too much Sex and the City,” says Tom, who’s a mojito fan. “It’s healthy,” he insists. “But only if you drink enough of it.”

“Vodka martini, straight up, with a twist,” Spencer declares. ”Or a classic champagne cocktail.”

“Champagne makes me go nuts,” grins Tom.

After all the booze, it’s a good idea to eat, or at least talk about food. Favourites range from foie gras to more traditional fare: “When I came back from the US, I went straight to Little Chef for sausage and chips,” says Julian.

“You get great steak in Scotland,” offers Laura. “But it’s hard getting them to cook it rare.”

“I have a fascination with bread,” says Tom, his eyes gleaming.

“Sounds kinky …” retorts Julian.

The topic is dropped. Next comes travel. Tom wants to live in Australia “because of the women”.

“Why are Australians so miserable?” ponders Julian. “If you go to some areas of Africa, you appreciate how lucky you are.”

The evening rolls on. “Who’s your favourite Bond?” asks Julian. Sean Connery is the general favourite but Laura admits that, despite her Scottish roots, she quite likes Daniel Craig.

“He’s a beautiful man,” says Tom.

“I once saw four Star Trek movies in a row,” chips in Spencer, apropos of nothing.

Time drifts along. We discuss royalty: “Camilla was attractive when she was young”, and corruption: “Dodgy things happen in construction”, before Spencer reveals that he worked in Iraq in the 1990s. The group sits mesmerised, listening to tales of “building fountains” for Saddam.

“Some ex-pats we knew disappeared for months at a time.” he says. “They said they were detained for ‘bringing the president into disrepute’.”

A solemn silence descends. We notice the bar is empty and that waiters are eyeing their watches, so we pay and leave …

  • Chosen venue: Villandry, Great Portland Street 
  • Ambience: Chic modern European. Is it a bar? Is it a delicatessen? Who knows … 
  • Topics: The finer things in life: food, sports, travel and Daniel Craig 
  • Drinks: Three pints of Becks, seven glasses of merlot and eight bottles of Brahma beer

Those Present …

  • Spencer James partner
  • Julian Barlow PR consultant
  • Laura Simpson graduate quantity surveyor
  • Tom Beney graduate quantity surveyor
  • Debika Ray Building magazine