I don’t believe in the ‘free lunch’. Catholic guilt and a strong sense of morality means that as a business our teams as discouraged from accepting the inevitable invitations which come our way from suppliers. In the past they used to be lavish; centre court at Wimbledon, helicopter ski trips and dinners at the Ritz have all been turned down during the affluent years because I knew in my heart of hearts I was never going to buy the service or product on offer and it was just not right to take the ‘free lunch’ and run.
These days corporate entertaining is definitely a little more modest. At least in our industry it appears to be. Not only have the ski weekends come to an end, but sadly so have many of the print companies who were generously (and, possibly foolishly) offering them.
Some of our suppliers invite us for a get-together and then ask for a contribution citing it as a conference day rate and whilst at first this seemed a bit cheeky, I actually approve. Those who really want to go can pay the subsidised rate and the rest of us know we are not coughing up for these shindigs for other clients to attend via our fees.
Now all rules need to be broken from time to time and last Friday I did just that. A loyal supplier who I am actually rather fond of and who (should they provide the right service for the right price) we will continue to use, invited me to Goodwood Revival. I’d heard of this crazy event and with a penchant for all things retro had been keen to turn up.
The invitation came when I was on a rather noisy train; “Take the train to … crackle, crackle …”, my contact said. “Sorry, IM ON A TRAIN … where did you say?” I shouted back irritating my neighbours. “Crackle, crackle …. Arham…. “she replied. “Farnham?” I shout at the top of my voice. “That’s right; a taxi will be waiting for you outside the station.”
So, Friday morning I get into work extra early since there is still the day job to fit around the freebies. I’m there from 7.30am and I literal run from job to job, ticking off my list. When I’m this busy the shoes have to come off since it’s infinitely quicker to get round the office in bare feet. I delegate like mad, calling favours from all and sundry – 10 hours’ work has to be done in three. By 10.45am I’m cycling like a demon down to Clapham Junction, costume in the bike basket. I jump on the train to Farnham with seconds to spare because strangely it appears four minutes before the one I had been told to take.
Phew! I can relax, I’m on the train. But far too soon we arrive in Farnham – she has told me it would take 90 minutes but I’m here after a short hour. Strange. I get out and there’s no taxi to collect. I wait for a while and try to call from a phone box which does not work. (My phone had been stolen earlier in the week and the replacement still wasn’t working). After nearly an hour of waiting I jump in a taxi. “Goodwood please”. “Blimey mate, that’s a long way? You sure?”
I’m starting to smell something fishy, but proceed with an extortionate taxi ride and a very, very long time later I arrive at Glorious Goodwood and it really was wonderful. Stunning countryside and it felt as if you had been transported back in time to another era. People were in the mood, extra polite, smiley and helpful. I found my lovely hosts and some fellow guests and we had a jolly good day.
Of course those of you whose Home Counties geography is a little better than mine will know that when I heard Farnham, I should have heard Barnham.
Darn, what a waste of time and money! But a darn good day out – I recommend it!