The informality of the occasion is highlighted by the fact that it's all taking place in Medina, one of the most relaxing bar-restaurants on earth. After all, how pompous can you be when you're lolling around on great squashy cushions drinking Arabic coffee and eating divine little nut pastry things? ("Unless you're a barrister or MP, of course," says Laura. "Then you're born pompous.")
No, it's clear that as far as Rory's concerned, Laura and I will shortly be gainfully employed again. This little gathering is to give us the chance to charm the other members of the fledgeling team, so that they'll rubber- stamp their new top man's decision. All the same, I feel suddenly nervous: what if I say something stupid, or they don't like me?
I needn't have worried. There are only two other members of the team - "So far," says Rory. "Early days" - and one of them is Findlay, an old university friend.
He hasn't changed a bit since I last saw him at the end of my second year: still oozing intelligence, still a bit awkward, still the same terrible haircut that all physicists seem to have. "Findlay's our rocket scientist," says Rory, as if I couldn't have guessed.
The other team member, and Rory's deputy, is Jaap, who is tall and blond and Dutch. I've vaguely heard his name about, but he's four or five years older than I am so I've never dealt with him. Still, he seems friendly enough, and says how pleased he is to meet me in a tone that makes me look more closely at him. He is gazing at me thoughtfully, and I suddenly find myself wondering why everyone always describes blue eyes as cold. Jaap's are as inviting and warm as a tropical sea, overturning all my preconceptions about (a) blonds and (b) northern European men. Then I suddenly remember that this is a future boss I'm musing about and snap out of it.
Anyway, I remind myself, you only go for dark-haired men with chocolate eyes, like your boyfriend Olivier.
The waiter pours out the first bottle of champagne and Rory proposes a toast "to the top team in the world and all who sail in her". Everyone clinks glasses and drinks, and before you know it the little bubbles have worked their magic and we're all talking away merrily. Findlay tells me he's lost count of the number of people who've asked whether he's heard anything about me, including Peter at Karaoke Securities.
"Oh, the Heavy Breather," I say. "How's he doing?" And then I have to explain why we call him that: because either his desk's at the top of a long flight of stairs, or he's always terribly pleased to talk to us. "Must be excitement," says Findlay. "He never pants when he's on the phone to me."
Before you know it four hours have slipped away into the abyss, and Rory's new corporate credit card has taken quite a hammering.
It's plainly time to leave before it turns into a major session, otherwise I will have the hangover from Hades tomorrow.
Rory's obviously had a quick confab with the boys, because he tells me he'll bike the offer letter round tomorrow.
"I hope you'll accept," says Jaap as I stand up to leave. He gives a little Mona Lisa smile, and adds, "I'm very much looking forward to working with you."
And I really don't know why, but as soon as I left I rang Olivier.Reuse content