Wednesday, 7 January 2015

The Networking Event

I marked the email as unread so that I wouldn't forget about it as I did with most of the others. It's an invitation to a networking event for people working in public affairs. I studied politics at university although have never really used my degree and so it's an area I've been relatively keen on exploring. If I'm going to make any headway with potential opportunities, then this could be a very useful event to attend. I went to one previously which was held above a pub in Horseferry Road in West London. Looking back, I seem to remember that I met a few fun and interesting people that time. Right, I'm going - it could be fun I'll regret it if I don't.

I leg it out of the office an hour or so later than planned. I'm having trouble locating the email exchange on my phone that I had with Phil Murphy, the guy who's organised this evening's networking event. We managed to speak on the phone though and he mentioned that someone called Alan would put my name down on the list of attendees. In the absence of the email I hurry in the direction of Horseferry Road and the Barley Mow pub where the last event was held.

The last time I was here I got into a conversation with the organiser about the various different people in attendance and what sort of networking opportunities existed. This time he said to find him at the event where he'd be able to expand on the topic. I remember that he looks like he's in his early forties with thinning dark straight hair, dark eyes and a little overweight. 'I'll know him when I see him' I tell myself as I walk through the ground floor bar, keeping an eye out in case he happens to be downstairs where we spoke last time. I can't see him though and so I pop upstairs, passing a sign on my way indicating the event upstairs organised by "Alan Wiggins". 'That must be the guy he mentioned'

It's a busy event with wall to wall chattering, laughter and some intense looking conversations. I give the room a quick scan but can't see Phil Murphy. I check my watch 'It's not late - get a drink and talk to people'. I walk to the bar and manage to squeeze my way to the front through a couple of small crowds who have congregated with their drinks by the side of the bar. "Sorry.. thanks.. excuse me.. thanks, no worries..yes, cheers ever so much" I take out a tenner as the barman hands me a pint. "Don't worry mate, it's a free bar - there's food over there too" he says, indicating over to the long table on the other side of the room." "Thanks" I say. I do a quick circuit of the room, nodding at people here and there and saying the occasional "Hi" 'Where's Phil Murphy?'

I nibble on the finger food - a spring roll here, a vol-au-vent there. "You should just fill a plate up - good spread isn't it" says a guy next to me. "Yes it is a bit - I can't remember if there was a spread like this at the last one of these things that I went to." "Oh well, just enjoy it is what I say. Cheers" he says as he raises his glass before walking back to the crowd he was talking to. 'Fair enough'. I take a couple spring rolls, another Vol-au-vent and a chicken drumstick and walk around the room, keeping an eye out for Phil or anyone else I can remember from last time.

I walk back over to the finger buffet and put a fork full of coleslaw onto my plate next to some salad. 'Well I might as well network since I'm here' I muse. I start talking to a chap who looks like he's on the outside of a small group. He talks about the food and how nice it is to have a free bar. "Yes, I didn't expect that either" I tell him. "So who do you know here?" he asks. "Well I don't know anyone really" I confess. "Phil Murphy said I should come down although I haven't him yet". "Phil Murphy? Oh I don't think I know him. Where abouts are you based?" "I work just down the road in Victoria" I tell him. "Oh I see" he says with an air of curiosity. "And yourself?" I ask. "Well I'm based over in Paddington Green right now, although for several years I was based over at New Scotland Yard, which is where I met Wiggins" he says nodding over to a tall thin grey haired man keeping court to half a dozen or so people at the bar. "Some of us wondered if he was ever going to retire at all. Still, he's put on a good spread."

He walks back over to the small group and says something that makes them look over at me as I munch on a sausage roll, sip on my pint and I slowly play his words over again in my mind. I notice the presents underneath the table and the collection of retirement cards to the side. I dig my hand into my pocket to find my iPhone 'Where's that email again?' as I open my inbox. 'It's the Barley Mow on Horseferry Road I know it is' I keep telling myself as I scroll through until I find the email. 'Yup, just as I thought - Walkers of Whitehall".

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