Its that time of year again when, in pursuit of contacts, contracts and interesting new opps i must do the rounds of assorted get-togethers, junkets and beanos. Tis a harsh burden – in fact, for someone still high on hormones and therefore calorifically challenged to the nth degree – it definitely is: but someone’s got to do it.
And its a lot better than the bad old days when i worked in financial services and there was a bizarre expectation that i would not only hobnob with clients and suppliers through “manly” activites such as golf and sailing, but worse: that i should actually LIKE so doing.
The rat pack
First up, yesterday, a journalistic “get-together” at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese on Fleet St – a quaint medieval hostelry, complete with real coal fires and rafters designed to decapitate anyone over 5’6″ (ouch! yes: i have a bruise to prove that).
It was a boozy, blokey sort of affair: all you might expect from a free lunch, free bar and well over 100 of the UK’s finest hacks descending: a swarm of crumple-suited locusts! Ideas and business cards were swapped, introductions made and as much gossip as you would expect from a bunch of journalists who spend most of the rest of the year competing with one another for exclusives.
To my amusement, i was hit on twice: once by a rather elegant silver-haired gent who started the chat, then backed off alarmedly as, i guess, he “read” me; and once by a guy who i’m pretty sure read me from the off, and wasn’t the least bothered. Hmmm….
Charm and chocolat
Then off, for the evening, to Hotel Chocolat in Kensington, and a delightful event co-hosted by them and the Institute of Direct Marketing, where, confusingly, i remain a Founding Member and “Fellow”. (Is there no female equivalent?)
Joy! Even if, again, i was turning down more tasty morsels than i was offered. Still, inveigled by a procession of hostesses who claimed very convincingly that the chocs on offer were high-cocoa, low sugar (and therefore mostly cal-free) i succumbed. A little. 🙂
Too, there was a series of amazingly different chocolatey based canapés: chicken pate, with integral chocolate paste; white chocolate tartlets with duck; and tastebud tingliest, much to the amazement of all who tried them, small wafers of dark choc, topped with goat’s cheese and honey. Mmmmmmmm……
Loads more business cards swapped: a very interesting convo with Hotel Chocolat’s marketing manager, who is working hard to put her product on the gift agenda for xmas and, more pressingly, Valentine’s Day. This, in turn, sparked further debate as to whether blokes were better advised buying the predictable red satin lingerie for celebratory occasions – or intense chocolate.
One vote for agent provocateur, but a definite majority verdict in favour of cocoa product. (And yes: in contrast to my journalistic outing earlier in the day, the evening occasion seemed to have attracted mostly women. No need, i suspect, to wonder why).
Then a quite surreal conversation with a lady from the RNIB. OK: so i had this temporary mental block whereby i confused RNIB with RSPB; and i remembered meeting the latter at Erotica 2010, where they had a stall; and were offering t-shorts with risqué slogans like “Great tits” and “Shag” to anyone who signed up there and then.
And i am sure the RNIB lady thought me quite mad suggesting that HER organisation had ever marketed itself by such means. But still, at least i didn’t start wittering on about lifeboats (the RNLB): and – mega-gain! – by evening’s end i found in her a kindred spirit and delightful, good-humoured zest for life.
All told, then, a great day out with enough intros made and ideas begun to keep me occupied for days more.