The heaviest snowfall seen in London for decades was a great excuse for the guys from Watts to congregate in the pub. Mark was the only one who had really suffered from the weather, though, as the combination of the hole in his shoe and their leather soles meant he was “walking down the street like he had Tourette’s swearing at himself”.
Jo shocks his colleagues by ordering a tomato juice – and makes me promise to tell the readers it is a Bloody Mary.
Once we are firmly ensconced in what Watts calls its “branch office”, conversation turns to the big event that has been occupying nearly all of Kate’s time recently: Mipim.
“It’ll be my second time. I just can’t believe how many men there are,” she exclaims.
Since it’s Mipim, the next topic is naturally alcohol.
“There’s a real difference between the Brits and the rest,” Mark suggests. “It’s the guys from the UK who are smashed by 8 o’clock whereas the Euro types are busy doing deals.”
Kate is prepared for hangovers. “Last year I brought my ‘toolkit’ – bumper packs of Berocca and Resolve Extra. By the end of the week, I had people asking me for Berocca but wanting to pretend it was vodka and orange.”
“I didn’t know they did Resolve Extra,” butts in Tony, who goes on to sing the praises of the hangover cure. “It cures your head, settles you stomach …”
Jo, who will be attending his 17th Mipim this year, says he would describe property culture as “a bon viveur, rather than a drinking culture”.
“Mipim is much better than it used to be. Four years ago it was pretty unpleasant,” he adds.
Parties are of course a key part of the Mipim experience and Jo gets animated as he explains the key to a good bash. “We have a party on a boat every year. The only thing you need to get people in is alcohol. Though we also have a band, which draws people in.”
“How big is your boat?” I ask innocently. “Big enough,” shoots back Jo.
“It’s quality, not quantity,” pipes up Helen.
“Not as big as Tchenguiz’s, that’s for sure,” adds Jo.
All that talk of yacht-based boozing must be making Jo feel a little guilty, so he steers the conversation towards the company’s gym membership.
“There’s one guy and all he’s done is enrolled and had an induction – he said that was more than enough for him.”
“Trouble is, I don’t want to see my colleagues sweating in a gym and I definitely don’t want to see them in a swimming costume,” complains Helen. “One time I had a personal trainer session and a colleague came in and I had to tell the trainer not to ask me any personal questions.”
“It can get rather competitive if you are next to each other on the treadmill,” adds Kate.
On that note, we all exercise our biceps by lifting our glasses.
Jo Stocks chief executive
Tony Williams chairman
Mark Few director
Helen Farrow deputy head of corporate services
Kate O’Donnell marketing executive
Lorraine Cushnie Building
Chosen watering hole: Balls Brothers, London EC3
Ambience: Old school City pub
Topics: Mipim, who has the biggest boat and the perils of seeing your colleagues in swimwear
Drinks bought: Four glasses of chardonnay, two glasses of red wine, four beers and one tomato juice