The Trader: Liquid lunches with those media men

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The Independent Online
"WHAT YOU have to remember is that success is one-tenth what you know and nine-tenths what other people think you know." This is one of Rory's favourite themes, but on this occasion it has special significance. Rory, you see, has just appointed a team of media specialists to produce a glossy brochure about what we do, and if that works they may create a website as well. It's the sort of project that fills our top man with boundless enthusiasm and the rest of us with dread.

"You don't think he'll want to commission a corporate video as well, do you?" says Findlay when Rory goes to the bar to get the next round. "I mean, all I do is stare at a computer screen all day, and that's hardly a spectator sport." Hmm, I think, neither's bowls, but they show that on television. Still, Findlay's probably safe for now, and the worst thing we'll have to worry about is having our photos taken for the brochure.

When their top man, Daniel - Mr Media himself - arrives to meet us all, you can tell he rarely ventures as far east as this. Daniel's got the job because he's an old schoolfriend of Rory, not because he's done lots of this type of work for financial institutions before. He looks faintly appalled from the moment he steps on to the floor, and you just know that he'll spend the evening in some Soho drinking den with a lot of other media types in linen-look suits with Nehru collars laughing at how everyone in the City dresses the same.

Rory's hands-on approach to the project inevitably means that he has to spend hours locked away in meetings with Daniel, and you can't fail to notice how much he enjoys them. For a start, they get him out of the office.

He can't use the in-house meeting rooms, not since he passed out in one of them after a particularly alcohol-steeped lunch and had to pretend it was an allergic reaction to the new carpets.

So every day at about eleven, when the rest of us are wishing it was time to go home, Rory slips on his jacket and announces he's popping out for a bit and we don't see him again until three. What happens in those four hours is anyone's guess - we've seen nothing in the way of samples or anything. In fact, we'd pretty much decided the whole thing was a ruse of Rory's to keep the drinks industry afloat.

So you can imagine how surprised we were when Rory returned yesterday afternoon clutching a dummy brochure and saying, "I'm not sure pink is really us. What do the rest of you think?" Laura muttered something like, "My God, it's real," and the rest of us pointed out that it'd be a lot easier to comment if he'd stop waving it about.

Only, as soon as he did, we wished he hadn't. Jaap was the first to recover: "How very ... very ... original," he said. Yes, the rest of us agreed, it certainly was original: never seen anything like it, in fact. The cover was baby pink, with the team name and company logo down the outside edge looking as if they were embarrassed to be there.

Scattered about the rest of the space were photos of the "tools of our trade": smart pens, a swish calculator and a dinky little mobile phone. "Why the mobile phone?" whispered Findlay to me. "We don't use our mobiles for work. And why isn't there a computer on there?" "Hush," I said. "Remember: image, not fact."

Rory suddenly burst into laughter. "It's terrible, isn't it?" he said. "Admit it, you've never seen anything so bad in your life, any of you. I've told Daniel to start again with something more traditional. Of course, it will mean more meetings ..." And he smiled and walked away.