Second sign of winter: drinking red wine at lunch time. A long time since I’ve done this, and I forgot how much it can make the ears and cheeks burn in the afternoon. Feel like I need a few buckets of water over my head. And it’s 4 hours since I finished drinking.
Walking through the alleys around Leicester Square, I was reminded of lunch with Chris some 2 years ago. Things were still good then, expense accounts were still easily abused, and although I got the impression that although Chris was very fond of his expense account (he took me for lunch to discuss his company’s specialised offering, having already met my colleagues on a day when I was detained elsewhere) he was not the type to spend it profligately. Instead he would make a virtue of tracking down hearty value-for-money bistros around town, balancing minimum expense against maximum quality. He was also a connoisseur of wine. Not in the respect that he would intimidate you with his vast knowledge, or make a sideshow out of choosing a bottle, but in that delightful paternalistic manner that takes great pleasure in spreading knowledge to others. He was one of those old-school public-school not-quite-Oxbridge arts/humanities type that knows how to live life enjoyably, but sadly will find it increasingly hard to get by in today’s economic climate.
Last night we hosted hard reality and Leonardo’s Valentine’s party. I was auctioneer – we “sold” off a bunch of slaves – raised an amazing £1193 for chariteeee (British Red Cross) through the sale of 11 people. I, perhaps rather rashly, bid, and now have to pay, £210 for Fern and Jess (who came complete with two £50 vouchers for local restaurants, and the promise that they would do my filing all day – except I don’t have any filing, just a desk piled with magazines and pieces of paper that need to be filed in the bin). I only did it to protect them from Gary – he had bid £200 and, seeing the look on their faces, I couldn’t bear seeing them sold of to an old lech like him so I put the bid in to save them from a fate worse than… well, worse than being my slaves for a day.
Actually, they’re not having to do anything too slavish. We pootled off to the Cod with the first of our vouchers and enjoyed a thoroughly tasty lunch: langoustine risotto, which was completely heavenly and just the kind of warm baby-food I needed to help soak up my hangover, followed by char-grilled tuna with spinach, leek and langoustine wanton and a sauce of aubergine and something or other – sounded awesome when the waitress described it, but the tuna was a bit chewy, and my recently-detoxed palate had trouble dealing with the saltiness of the sauce and the texture of the wanton, lovely though I’m sure they were.
We spent lunch trying to make hungover conversation, bursting into laughter at our own inability to complete sentences (or even to start them properly), said that it would be nice to go to the London Aquarium and hide out in the dark, but we didn’t, we went back to the office and I gave my two slaves the rest of the day off. Shame really, as I only had ownership of them for a day. Just think of the possibilities missed…