Two have and two haven’t got one – Facebook pages, that is.
Ian has and gives Mike a quick briefing on the ins and outs of the social networking site.
Apparently, this is because Mike is too old to know what it is. The veteran architect and practice chairman starts to defend himself, sees he has no chance, grins and takes a gulp of beer instead.
Graham is a Facebooker, but a reluctant one. “Colleagues and friends keep sending you messages, inviting you to join,” he complains, “and in the end it’s easier to give in than fight the force.”
“But people do get obsessed, don’t they?” says Neil, incredulous. He is the other Facebook agnostic in the group. “It’s all getting a bit too much. They’re going to need a Facebook Anonymous soon.”
He decides one of the reasons Facebook is now being banned in some workplaces is that it is too voyeuristic and just a bit weird.
He’s amazed people want to display their dirty linen all day long on Facebook.
Mike, with his big-boss hat on, declares that people should have the freedom to go on Facebook at work, as long as they still get their work done. “But if they’re going to abuse the system …”
“Like going to illicit sites,” Graham butts in excitedly.
“Such as Architects do Dallas,” Neil finishes off for him. “That gets through the firewall system, because it’s relevant,” he explains. Mike reaches for his pint again.
Ian quickly tires to steer the conversation back on course. He points out one of the reasons for banning Facebook in the workplace might be so that people actually talk to each other, instead of their computer.
Mike nods. Talking is good, he says.
Ian is on a roll now. “You can’t just go round banning things, anyway,” he asserts. “It gets people really annoyed. When ‘access denied’ flashes up all day long, it just makes people tetchy.”
At this point, another person joins the table. However, it’s not senior director Rachel Bassindale, who’s yet to arrive, but an already drunk, partially toothless Irish man, asking for 80p so’s he can buy a pint of Guinness, like.
“I just need a bit more for the Guinness,” he says. “It makes the difference between scratching your arse and grabbing it.”
The group looks on bemused as he counts the coppers in his palm and suddenly announces that he actually needs a bit more money than he originally thought – £2.50 to be precise – for the beverage.
Graham reaches into his pocket and pulls out two quid, an obliging smile on his face as he hands it over. Mike supplies the rest and our new friend trundles off to the bar.
Watering hole: the Jack Horner, Tottenham Court Road, central London
Ambience: Ale-and-pie pub for media types
Topic: Should Facebook be banned at work?
Drinks: six-and-a-half pints of Grolsch, two pints of London Pride and two vodka-and-oranges
Mike Nightingale chairman
Neil Murphy principal of the London office
Graham Harris senior director
Ian Evans communications manager
Vikki Miller Building magazine