‘You can Google Checkout any time you like, but you can never leave...’
Bringing Nothing To The Party: Revenge of the Nerds, with roasting
"Yeah. They all want pictures of him, don’t they. David."
TV cameras camped out? For David Cameron? Christ, it must be a slow news week in Hertfordshire.
"Well, him and her, obviously, she’s here, too. You know, the missus. I might stick around myself and see if I can see her."
Now there’s no denying that David and Samantha Cameron have a certain glamour, but I was amazed that the cab driver was so impressed. It was only when we got to the hotel that it became obvious there was no way on earth this media scrum was here for the leader of the Conservative Party. Lining the driveway were men with huge cameras slung around their necks and behind them stood gangs of teenage girls holding signs saying "We Love You Becks!" and "Posh 4 Eva".
Fucking hell – Google had managed to get David and Victoria Beckham to speak at their conference. That was a hell of a coup – no wonder I’d been bumped. But what the hell could the great and the good of the internet industry possibly learn from the silent clothes horse out of the Spice Girls and a squeaky gonk whose only real skill was that he could kick a ball into a net better than almost anyone else?
I soon learned that David and Victoria weren’t at the hotel to meet Eric Schmidt or to join a panel on the internet and the environment. Instead, they had come to the spa in Hertfordshire with the rest of the England squad to relax and recover ahead of (or perhaps after) some important game or other (football is not my sport).
David and Victoria Beckham and the entire England squad, sharing a hotel and spa with the A list of geeks and nerds. For two whole days. This was going to be amazing, I thought. Like Revenge of the Nerds, but with roasting.
Unfortunately, the England management had taken some extreme steps to ensure that the England players weren’t disturbed during their stay, closing off large parts of the hotel to stop the press from getting inside, and presumably to avoid David and Victoria accidentally running into any nerds in checked shirts.
The event began with a grand soirée designed to bring together all the guests for mingling and canapés. The hotel’s ballroom had been decorated with all manner of technical fripperies, including dozens of elaborate lava lamps and a giant floor-projected virtual football pitch with animated balls that bounced off your feet as you walked across it. In the corner, a young magician wearing a back-to-front baseball cap made a playing card float in mid-air, to the envy of the men in suits and the amazement of the much younger and very attractive personal assistants many of the men had for some reason opted to bring with them to the remote spa in the middle of the countryside.
Realising that I literally brought nothing to the party, I decided to perch myself by one of the many free bars and engage in a bit of people-watching. And what people there were. CEOs of major companies; hugely successful dot com entrepreneurs from the first and second booms; a purse of top venture capitalists (yes, that’s the right collective noun); I swear an MP or two... and a flirt (ditto) of astonishingly pretty PR girls whose job it was to make sure everyone had a drink in their hand and was having a good time.
Naturally, I took my networking responsibilities seriously and shunned the once in a lifetime opportunity to mix with the cream of the cream of the business community in favour of chatting to a ridiculously hot and unconvincingly blonde PR girl called Emma. There’s always one called Emma.
Emma wasn’t allowed to drink alcohol while she was working, so between us we hit on a devious plan. I’d order a rum and Coke for myself, a tonic water for her and a straight vodka for my ‘friend’ who had gone to the loo. When no one from Google was looking, I’d empty the vodka into her tonic and no one would be any the wiser. Whenever one of her bosses came past we’d seamlessly switch from whatever we were really talking about to a heated debate about Google or some other search-engine-related issue.