Mr Latimer does not find it as easy to travel to work as he used to, I would venture, and as such, it might be to my advantage to be his second or third interview of the day rather than his first.
Aging rather than aged, with a wisp of black in the grey rather than the other way round, his still forceful gait now betrays his weaker leg.
I had done my research. I had to. I wanted the job.
Some thirty years ago, MLR Latimer as he was then, had taken a blow from a bouncer in a minor counties game that sent him to his knees. He had made 11 off 26 balls at that stage, but the damage to his right ankle ligaments was such that ‘Retired Hurt’ was his last innings – a not out, at least.
He once held a catch from Andy Roberts, too, which may have been the highlight of his career.
His left foot led him now, carrying Mr Latimer up the maze of escalators towards the surface at Waterloo. A bottle of water was jettisoned there, purchased along with the Times, another sign of his advancing years.
The Underground is hot and stifling, and comfort difficult to find. Now tabloid sized, the Times suits that commute far better than an unwieldy Telegraph. When at home, Latimer would always take the Telegraph, but needs must on a work day.
Arriving at the office a little before eight thirty, and with interviews due to start an hour later, there was ample time to acquaint oneself with the work of the American arm of the company overnight.
Their ambition was great, and so too their funding, Barnes Furlong never used to be so, but their ideas and projects always seemed far-fetched. The British approach of being the very best at what you do, and continually seeking to improve upon it seemed to hold little truck over the pond, and the daily updates from St Louis had begun to take on the tone if Icarus’ flight to the sun.
I had learned that while researching Barnes Furlong before my interview, which I had suggested being a little later than their first approach because I had to take my son to the school early that morning.
In the end, he was able to get a lift with his paternal grandmother, so I could have made the earlier interview, a fact I explained apologetically as I was introduced to Mr Latimer.
By this time, he had seen two candidates, getting the rustiness and frustration out of his system. Happily, only my hands seemed clammy by this point and the nerves were only on my side of the table.
The interview went by in a flash. My background work on Barnes Furlong proved useful, with Mr Latimer impressed that I had been using some of the company’s products long before applying. I had liked to think it was an appreciation of quality, I explained.
We even spoke briefly of cricket, when he got to asked what my out of work activities were. I used to play but now I mainly watch. I’ve kept the pads, but they are now cobwebbing in the shed.
In short, my preparation paid off. The things I had learned by rote I can remember saying, and only on a couple of occasions was I lost for words – and one of those was when Jessica asked how I took my coffee while I was still busy reading from my notes.
She would become a colleague of mine, I was told, should I get the job, and was the most recent starter. Mr Furlong had insisted on some younger blood, but Mr Latimer was keen that a balance between male and female was retained.
As with all interviews, when I was spewed back onto the Waterloo pavement forty-five minutes later I had no idea how it went. A faint aroma of Acqua Di Parma filled my nostrils and the edifying rush of a free day from 11:00 with no pressing engagements.
I was to be called later that day to hear if I had got the job. From that alone, I resolved to stay away from the big museums and galleries and certainly out of pubs. In the end, I opted to sit in St James’ Park until lunch, grab a bite and then work my way home on a mixture of overground train and foot.
By four o’clock I had heard nothing, so I boarded the train home at Marylebone. Beating the crowds seemed wise, and I might even be home before my wife. Within ten minutes of our departure, before even Harrow-on-the-Hill, the phone rang.
It was Mr Latimer of Barnes Furlong.
“The line is noisy,” he explained, “and could he call me back?”.
I agreed, and expected to hear from him imminently.