Interview with Ross Greenwood

15 October

Subjects: Boris Johnson: Mayor of London and drinking whilst working

GREENWOOD: You will love this subject. I promise you, you’ll love this subject. Alex, how are you?

MALLEY: Very, very well and yourself?

GREENWOOD: I’m in top form thank you. Alex, do you like a drink?

MALLEY: You’re always in good form.

GREENWOOD: Do you like a drink?

MALLEY: I know where you are taking me Ross.


MALLEY: I don’t mind a drink, I don’t mind a drink.

GREENWOOD: You don’t mind a drink. Would you call yourself a drinker?

MALLEY: I guess I would if you don’t mind the occasional drink, that’s true.

GREENWOOD: The occasional drink. Okay, what, weekends?

MALLEY: I’m going to be diagnosed after this conversation.

GREENWOOD: Yeah that’s right, you will be. Evenings?

MALLEY: Look I don’t mind a wine in the evening.


MALLEY: Occasionally.

GREENWOOD: Okay, the reason I’m asking you this. Boris Johnson who is the Lord Mayor of London, right, has actually said that he enjoys a drink at lunch and says that he can continue to write very fluently and very quickly after lunch. He also expressed admiration at Sir Winston Churchill’s ability to drink whiskey at breakfast, work all day and then sit down and write 2000 words for his latest book after a booze-fuelled lunch and dinner and then the Lord Mayor of London said, I mean what was he on? How could do it? He was incredible! I was trying to think of someone in our profession who could still do that. I don’t think people can do that anymore Alex?

MALLEY: Well I think what’s very interesting about our Boris is that he has this impeccable way of attracting attention when he feels he needs to and he raises, I guess, a generational change that we’ve observed where people are far more circumspect about drinking, particularly in working hours.

GREENWOOD: Look, don’t get me wrong, I know people who still have a glass of wine at lunch or sometimes but certainly at dinner events and all that type of thing, people will have a drink but I believe that the intake of people drinking and mixing business is diminished dramatically. Unless I’ve got it wrong?

MALLEY: No, I think you’re absolutely right but in some ways, it’s very interesting because, sometimes when I’m regularly out in business meeting people and having lunch or doing something of that sort, it’s really interesting, sometimes when you get to a point where you’ve built relationships with another organisation and you’ve worked with that group and there’s a more relaxed atmosphere, it’s almost as if it’s okay to have a drink because we know who we both are and what we’re trying to achieve together.

GREENWOOD: Alright then, I’ve got a second question for you. I was often told when I was a young bloke, don’t trust a person who doesn’t drink. What do you reckon about that Alex?

MALLEY: Well I think these days you wouldn’t trust any people and their behaviour when they’re out but Ross you know, I think what this does tell us though, very clearly is, that there’s these protocols around certain expectations of behaviour today that presume that people can’t control themselves and moderate and I think people of my generation are reasonably comfortable with their capacity to moderate and those who aren’t sure if they can moderate, are probably sensible not to partake but Boris, I think, has this wonderful capacity and it’s very rare in public leadership these days when you can turn it on and off and attract attention and somehow just get to the edge of people’s behavioural patterns and always come out the other end looking okay because that’s who he is.

GREENWOOD: I tell you what, that’s an amazing thing. I just reckon, I don’t know, I reckon the attitudes have changed. I reckon our corporations have changed. I reckon a whole lot of things have changed. I think fewer people drink these days, again, I’m certainly no teetotaler and I’m certainly not a person who would frown upon it but it just seems to me that attitudes have changed dramatically in the corporate workplace these days. Anyway I tell you what, send us an email about this if you’ve a view. Click on our feedback icon. I reckon that’s not a bad one for us to take up tomorrow and get your views about this one as well. In the meantime, Alex Malley, he’s kicked it off. Doesn’t mind a quiet tipple but not too much he says. He’s a very, very circumspect man. Hello Alex and we appreciate your time.

MALLEY: Pleasure Ross, thanks very much.