What is it that drives someone to grow a moustache?
I ask because it’s a willed act. Whereas a beard thrives on neglect, a moustache must be cultivated, and in turn it transforms a man’s (or a woman’s) social persona – upstages the rest of his face. It begins, in subtle ways, to take over. What’s more, Dave has raised a bandito, a Merv the Swerve, a Nick Cave. Any longer and he could twiddle.
“Are you putting wax on it?” inquires Nick, innocently. Well this issue hasn’t arisen because it’s a newly sprouted, sponsored moustache, grown to tackle prostate cancer. When Dave was working in Australia, the natural home of this style of facial enhancement, he was clean shaven.
Which wasn’t a problem. “Over there you’re judged on the size of your ute.” I mishear this as “uke”, which leads me to question everything I’ve been told about life Downunder. Dave explains that a ute is a kind of low-slung pick-up, useful for transporting one’s slab. “Of concrete?” No, beer. A case of 38 stubbies. Ah, stubbies – I can take it from here.
KSS is a sports specialist, and so the conversation moves naturally on to the subject of smuggling alcohol into stadiums. Alex recommends injecting a melon with vodka to create a natural and healthy cocktail. Sue talks about the construction of beer snakes – a communal activity in which the crowd tries, and inevitably fails, to create an “Ouroboros”, which is a tube of plastic glasses long enough to encircle the entire ground.
As we’re now about four pints into the evening, this topic leads naturally to amusing statements in foreign languages. Alex mentions the Italian colleague who becomes upset when anyone says they’ve had a panini for lunch … “One panino, two panini!” Nick talks about the colleague who told him the German for glove is “Handschuh”, meaning a shoe you put on your hand and I chip in with the friend who asked an Italian passer-by for directions to the loos (gabinetti) and ended up asking him to show her the way to the prawns (gamberetti).
From there we lurch to the subject of Christmas trees. This, it seems, is a competitive business at KSS, each “bench” constructing its own miniature version. Sue: “Last year one team did a chav tree. It was topped with a Burberry cap.
They made mini Burberry handbags and gold bling ” I imagine obsidian and gold-leaf packets of Lambert & Butler to complete the effect, by which time the designers have started to swap puzzle drawings, including old favourites such as Mexican-riding-a-bike, giraffe-passing-a-window and koala-bear-climbing-a-tree.
Dave then draws a picture of David Cameron’s dream house, complete with PVs, ground-source heat pump, windmill, biomass boiler and a very rude comment about the Toyota Prius. Well, I guess that was just the moustache talking.
Alex Lancaster associate director
Dave Leyden architectural assistant
Nick Marshall associate director
Sue Nash associate
Debbie Russell PA
David Rogers Building
Chosen watering hole: Inn 1888, Marylebone
Ambience: Dark, sparsely furnished boozer
Topics: Moustaches, Christmas tree design, mistakes in foreign languages
Drinks drunk: Five pints of Guinness, eight pints of Peroni, 13 gin and tonics, five vodka and tonics