It’s not unusual in my line of work to find myself in the company of “grown-ups”. At 22, a director of a company, and a darling of local press, I am the Doogie Howser of the Shropshire business network. I expect at least a ten year gap either side whenever I sit at a business dinner. Imagine my surprise then tonight, when I found myself sandwiched between two high school girls.

Emma Jordan from Bridgnorth and Lucy Fairweather from Shrewsbury were tonight representing their schools at a Shropshire Young Enterprise Awards dinner and I, the middle-man, was there to lend a hand – or two, actually – applauding the names in envelopes.

Having only been in television audiences for the Oscars, Grammies and Randies (the Porn Awards), I hadn’t realised what long and laborious things they can be. Obviously, I don’t applaud the winners from my sofa at home (I may have cheered at Ron Jeremy’s Lifetime Achievement Award), but tonight I was pretty exhausted from all the clapping. I decided mid-way to clap only once per winner, which others at my table thought was sort of rude, and otherwise reserved my energy for the girls either side.

Conversation however, was no less laborious.

“So…do you have any nicknames, Emma?”
“Yes,” she said, rather timidly. “HP.”
“Ah…big fan of brown sauce?”
“No.”
“IT solutions company?” I scratched my head. “Harry Potter?”
I never did find out. Instead I turned to Lucy. “So…do you like brown sauce?”

When I come to think of it, I don’t think I got more than one word responses from either the entire night. And so it dragged on, one syllable at a time. And I thought to myself how rarely I sit beside someone my own age. It’s either one word or long words. If I could take the average age of the company I keep I might find someone who speaks with the right amount of syllables – someone my own age, at least.

“Now for the award we’ve all been waiting for,” the compare announced. “The award for best written report.”

And then it dawned on me, I’m looking for them in all the wrong places.

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