Following on from my game of sardines (see “Sardines Anyone?”), it’s back to my trip to London and the couple of days work for a charity.
I was helping them out with some business analysis with a view to selecting a new computer system for them. We had been through the rounds of supplier selection. We had looked at various software packages on offer. Now it was time to go in depth into the preferred package.
So, having survived the various public transport experiences, I found myself outside the supplier’s office. A rather grand building near London Bridge. A building which had a much grander use in its heyday, but was now a series of offices let out to various small companies.
Not being one who likes to be late, I naturally arrived in plenty of time. In fact I managed to get there an hour early. So I found myself a little greasy spoon establishment and had a very nice coffee. I’m not one to order tea from these places as I find tea is a very personal thing and people just don’t make it the way one likes it!
However, with these all singing all dancing coffee machines, it is very difficult to go wrong!
Coffee consumed, I still found myself waiting outside with twenty minutes to spare. However, it was lucky I did, because one of the people I was meeting arrived a bit flustered. She was supposed to be meeting her colleague in a greasy spoon near the station, but had no idea where it was. The station that is, not the café. Although she also had no idea where the café was either!
London Bridge is a very prominent station which is pretty well sign posted from every conceivable angle! Luckily for this woman, I had been with her and her colleague when they met in the café at the previous meeting so was able to take her straight there.
When we got to the café, the assistant said that the other woman had been sitting there but had left a few minutes earlier.
So we headed back to the offices only to find her colleague waiting there. When asked why she didn’t answer her mobile phone, she replied “I don’t turn it on unless I want to make a call”!
The meeting got under way with a coffee. Earlier I said it was difficult to mess up coffee, but the guy who was taking the session, didn’t drink coffee, and didn’t know how to use a filter machine. Having put half a bag of ground coffee in to the machine and not into the filter, he wondered why we were able to stand the teaspoon up in our cups!
So session under way and the three of us sky high on caffeine, the guy laid out his plans for the two days. He’d worked out a nice little agenda, which would turn out not to bear any relation to how the two days were to run. It also became very apparent that one of the people I was working with didn’t like the guy leading the sessions and there was a little needling between her and him. Although I’m not sure he realised. I think he just thought she was unable to grasp what he was talking about.
The end of the morning session arrived and he recapped what we had been through and what was still to come.
That’s when he uttered the phrase “we might even do that tomorrow or maybe this afternoon”. Seeing as the morning session had been and gone, and we still had tomorrow and the afternoon to come, I wondered when else we could have covered it!
It was time for lunch. I would have been happy with a sandwich from the greasy spoon across the road. At least there I could have got a decent coffee. And the café was visible from the window – it was immediately across the street from the front door of the office building.
But no, we were sent, not accompanied, to a much more up market establishment ten minutes walk down the road. We were given our instructions – you can choose anything from the menu up to the value of £10, and this would include a soft drink.
That’s OK I thought, I’m sure a sandwich won’t come anywhere near £10 even though I am in London.
Well, there were no sandwiches on the menu; this was a restaurant, not a snack bar.
The problem was that there were no main courses under £10 except for the pasta dish and the vegetarian burger. And I really didn’t want a big meal, I really only wanted a snack. So we all selected a starter!
Oh how I longed for the greasy spoon down the road.
OK, so that’s the first morning over. Lunch done. What could the afternoon session bring, and would I be back for day two?