So before the course on Sunday I bought myself a new notebook and pen so I wouldn’t forget any of the pearls of wisdom being handed down.
The course materials suggested that what I needed to bring was pen and paper – although it allowed for the option of some kind of electronic notebook. There was an half day when I thought I could take this as an excuse to treat myself to an iPad but I put that idea quickly to bed and kept things simple buying myself a very smart bright red Moleskine notebook.
Armed with this, a pen full of ink, wearing a good hat and carrying around with me the faint remaining whiff of fermented mackerel I signed in for the course on Sunday morning.
The attendees were ushered into a large glass atrium lined with chairs down the side and we were given tea and coffee. As the place filled up it was apparent that I would not be one of the younger members of the audience. There was a certain amount of facial hair and lots of eager faces – young people anxious to something new with coffee or about to make their first small fortune selling a particular type of Vietnamese sandwich.
At 10.00 we were called into a lecture theatre with very comfortable seats and I settled down for the day.
During the day I heard a total of about six speakers talk for 40 minutes or so on their experiences starting in the food or drink business. They included one of the people behinf Higgidy Pies, two brothers who had started making and selling pizzas from the back of a van and had just opened a pizza restaurant in Soho (and I think another in Clapham), Jimmy of Jimmy’s Chilled Coffee, a lady who had started a business selling muesli called Rude Health and another lady who opened a small chain of organic supermarkets called Planet Organic.
In the event I didn’t take many notes- perhaps a couple of dozen words. Of course there were people with their smart-phones taking photos of the powerpoint and the apposite quotes that some of the speakers saw fit to share with us. Though quite why they thought we needed reminding that life was not a dress rehearsal escaped me.
We were also told that if we started our Monday morning looking forward to Friday evening then we needed to be doing something else. Of course we did – that is why we were there – looking out for the dream of doing something else – the speakers had done it of course – stepped over the line, happy with what they had done – so if they dropped dead tomorrow there would be no regrets. Great for them but not so good for the poor squirming members of the audience whose lives would be filled with no end of regrets if the grim reaper’s scythe were to come calling tomorrow.
The speakers were all different and came at it from different experiences and although parts of the day were given over to a slightly revivalist self help tone there were elements that could perhaps be picked out that might form a basis for moving forward.
I have made a list of them in the little red book and I will try over the next few nights to set some of them out and see where I get to.