It’s 6:20am and I have just – as the kids say – pulled an all-nighter. Since I got my nice new flat in Westminster – not a book’s throw from the office – I’ve been starting work earlier and leaving the office well before midnight most nights (previously the prospect of a forty minute cab journey to Crouch End discouraged me from ever leaving the office once I was there).
But the truth is I really enjoy working when noone else is. 6:20am on Sunday morning, for example. Fewer phone calls, that eerie night-time calm – only broken by the bonging of Big Ben and an occasional instant message from a nocturnal pal.
(Tonight’s favourite ping came from Sarah Bee to tell me she was eating Halal chips. Apparently it said so on a sign in the shop. How exactly does one kill a potato in the manner prescribed by the shari’a I enquired? Answers had she none.)
The hours of 2am-5am are also a great time to download music from Limewire when you’re sitting on your roof, leeching broadband from your neighbours. Tonight I have been mostly stealing the Arctic Monkeys. (And yes – of course I know everyone is downloading the Arctic bloody Monkeys at the moment but what you have to understand is that I only like them because I think their lyrics might possibly make them the British version of the Barenaked Ladies, my favourite band in the whole world. Yeah, that’s what I said. In the whole world. Want to argue with that? Berate me for my ‘dreadful’ taste in music? Join the queue, do. But you’re wrong.)
So what have I been doing tonight anyway? Strategy, that’s what. Finishing off my contribution to a hefty document that Clare and I are putting together, outlining TFP’s plans for the next twelve months. It sounds like the sort of thing that management consultants do – strategising and planning, rather than actually doing, but it’s becoming increasingly important that we act like a proper business in certain key aspects.
That’s the exciting part.
I can’t say an enormous about at this stage, mainly because it’s 6:30am and I want to go to bed, except to say that where currently our name ends in the letters ‘Ltd’, in little under two months time it’ll be ‘Plc’. Oh yes. My, how we’ve grown, eh?
It’s exciting stuff for sure – and also great news for everyone involved in The Friday Project, from advisors and supporters to authors and partners. Becoming a public limited company – and the restructuring and additional resources that brings – means we’re going to go from being a little start-up to a proper stable company. It also means I get a yacht.
That last bit isn’t true.
Yes it is.
No it isn’t.
But it does mean we have to do certain corporate things a bit more professionally and make sure that we spend our shareholders’ money wisely (more books, less champagne and hookers). What it absolutely doesn’t mean is that we have to be any less innovative or bold in our activities – or that we have to take any less nimble in our decision making. In fact the additional capital should, if anything, make us braver and nimble-ier.
But over-caution and losing sight of your principles are really easy traps to fall into when you spend more time in meetings and you’ve got shareholders breathing down your balance sheet. I’ve seen better (wo)men than us become the worst kind of corporate cocks when they stop being start-ups and start being, well, companies. So, do me a favour, keep a close eye on Vox. And if you ever see me use the words ’synergy’ or ’strategic growth’ or even ‘human resources’, kindly send me an email – blank except for the single word ‘Dick’ in the subject line.
Mind you, having said that, a quick read of James Lark’s eye-witness account of our Christmas party should give you an idea of how far we’ve got to go before we’re anything even slightly resembling grown-ups…
‘Paul then told me I needed a drink, grabbed from the bar a glass of what looked like vodka and coke (neatly lined up with two others) and thrust it into my hand. I asked him who it belonged to. He said he wasn’t sure, then gestured in the direction of three huge, tough, suited men who were almost certainly in the mafia and said “I think they ordered them”.
I put the drink back.
I decided to escape in the direction of Clare Christian, who I felt was less likely to throw my scarf over a bar because she is, in fairness, less of a pisshead than Paul Carr.
Clare greeted me like Mary Magdalene greeting Jesus – I’m sure she was seconds away from breaking an expensive jar of oil over my head – and continued to cling to me while she struggled to explain to another writer who I was….
As their launch party proved, although at the height of a party Paul Carr will agree to publish my whole life, the next day he won’t have any recollection of our verbal contract.’
Cheeky bastard. James Lark’s first book will be published by Friday Books in August.
[P.S. Before I forget, I’m quoted in the Observer today. Like I’m some kind of expert or something. Goodnight.]