Since returning to the fold of managers and deserting my confreres amongst dealers I have rediscovered the inevitability and frequency of meetings. Though the working world loves a meeting and in addition I am enthused and enthralled by the task before me - I have to churlishly admit that whilst I see and understand the purpose of meetings I am perhaps less than enthusiastic about having them all day every day.
Back in the UK after 10 days in the USA I have thrown myself into my new community. The first encounter was with Poppy - she is a sort of onomatopoeia, bouncy and full of energy clutching a pad laden with notes and plans and logistics. She is in charge of the Ely House building and we need to plan and strategise how best to use these premises at 37 Dover St and how to manage the constant ebb and flow of goods. a few hours pass. She is super-efficient and planning is definitely her métier so the job gets done and well.
Next I am thrown into branding with Piers, he is enthusiastic too and his glowing brow and damp shirt speak of his passion for the subject. He is accompanied by John who is by contrast cool and lugubrious - silently passing comment on all that is discussed. We pass a few hours discussing the inner meaning of colours and the emotional impact of fonts. Piers' passion is infectious.
The best meeting is one where my new colleagues and I throw all our energies into considering how best to coordinate our several buildings and staff. That morning I had left the house on my new commute with Mosca our black working cocker spaniel. She cannot do escalators - so I carried her down one at the Oval and we changed at Waterloo and took the Jubilee line up to Green Park. By the time we arrived I reckon I had carried her for about 20 minutes. Commuters don't as a rule touch and stroke one in transit, but if you are an eager puppyish dog it appears to be a free for all. Much loved Mosca left the tube and walked up to Dover St, where she was greeted with more love and affection. She joined our meeting and after a few minutes sniffing around she decided to sit on my knee for the next 4 hours. George Bailey who is now Chairman of TFAAG ( The Fine Art Auction Group) who has passed 30 years cranking the handle at Sothebys and James Harvey newly appointed fellow joint CEO of same kindly appeared insouciant of this uninvited participant. However, her contribution was pithy. Indeed there was one moment of thoughtful silence that was punctuated by a Mosca gurgle that appeared uncannily prescient and thoughtful
But despite this barrage of meetings I could not forget that I was heading for the Winter Antique show at Olympia which opens on the 2nd November. On Friday I shifted gear and set to getting ready for the fair. My erstwhile assistant Samuel who is now preparing for great things by doing an MA at the Courtauld came round and prepared my labels, Alex my book-keeper crunched numbers and various dealers popped round to encourage me to part with money. My carriers arrived and off we went to install. Several hours later I was exhausted and had made haste to Cecconi in Burlington St. After the familiar crunching of contractors and objects with plastic, drills and tape-measures the application of a Ketel 1 vodka martini is a necessary thing. My ex colleague and friend Elizabeth Dellert who used to help drive the engine of Masterpiece is now ensconced - for maternity cover - at Frieze Masters, so the fair carousel rotates. After this last business encounter of the week I was able to disappear into a fabulous meal at the topsy-turvily named Anchor and Hope in the Cut by Waterloo. There the relaxed and charming service helped my dog and my beloved - Esther - forget the week and indulge in a gastronomic odyssey of polychrome beetroot and goats cheese salad followed by a mind-bendingly salty kipper and finishing with a succulent Gloucester old spot Milanese with spinach; but low and behold - we found room for a tart of pear and almonds. The stretcher that bore us from the restaurant heaved and groaned under our weight and we dragged our selves home to rebuild for the Olympia based revelry ahead.
The Woodham-Smith stand at Olympia in progress ( image writers own)
But not before several glances at my telephone. I am used to email but over the last few year since I left the Masterpiece management team my inbox has been admirably light. Suddenly I ma right back into the world of Group emails. These are ones you receive simply to - keep you in the loop. You need to read them but not respond. A Tsunami of these has crashed over my head. Where before I greedily poured over my emails eager for news of sales or potential sales now I look down at the phone with a growing sense of dread. But these are the necessary concomitants of corporate life. Maybe Mosca can help?
Follow Thomas Woodham Smith on Twitter:www.twitter.com/twoodhamsmith