London: Part 2 (and a few hours in Oslo)

On Wednesday morning I was up at the crack of dawn. I left home at 6.15 for a flight at 8am from Heathrow Terminal 5. I got there and went straight through security – I had my handbag and my laptop, that was all I needed for the day. Once I was through security I called one of my colleagues to find out where he was. ‘Oh, we’re in the First Class lounge,’ he replied. He was with the guy I was supposed to meet the day before who decided to go home instead. He invited me to join them so I walked towards the lounge.

I got there, got a cup of coffee, and Tweedledum introduced me to Tweedledee. ‘What happened to you yesterday?’ I asked. ‘Oh, I had stuff to do at home.’ Oh, that’s nice, I thought. We all have stuff to do at home. No apology, no explanation. Not impressed. Luckily they had checked in together so were sitting next to each other. I was far away. On my way to the airport that morning I considered using my airmiles to upgrade to Business Class so I wouldn’t have to sit with them.

We got to Oslo, came out of customs, turned right and went to the Radisson Hotel where our meeting was. It was uneventful – I don’t think my being there was very necessary at all – and we left. Our flight back to London was supposed to be at 5.15 but it was delayed by over an hour. I had to listen to Tweedledum and Tweedledee slagging off my ex boss, my ex ex boss, the ex head of sales and marketing, the ex marketing manager and goodness knows who else. Tweedledee does the job I used to do and now I wonder what he says about me to other people…

We eventually boarded the flight at 6.15pm. We were just approaching the runway when the captain announced that there was a discrepancy between the load counter and the actual number of bags on board. He said we’d be delayed a little while longer. I was getting frustrated because: (a) I was exhausted; and (b) I had dinner with friends at China Tang that evening. Luckily we only had to wait 5 minutes while they sorted it out and we were off.

We landed at Terminal 5 at about 7.40pm. The captain made another announcement. He told us we’d landed in the Domestic Arrivals area of the terminal and would need to take a bus to the International Arrivals hall. What else could go wrong?? I switched on my phone to let my friends know I had landed and to go ahead without me and… nothing. Nothing happened. My battery was dead. I thought about borrowing someone’s phone but then realised that I could only remember three phone numbers and they were all useless.

I eventually got home at 8.50pm, charged my phone, called my friends, got ready and was at China Tang by 9.30pm. I needed a big drink. Had it not been one of the girls’ birthdays I’d have stayed at home… but the food was perfect. We had a table in the bar area and all we had was dim sum and roast duck. Divine. I was home a little after midnight and I passed out.

One of my ex-suppliers took me out for lunch on Thursday. I’d always looked forward to our lunches so when she found out I was coming back for a holiday she took me to Trattoria Semplice, just off Oxford Street. It was great to catch up – and again I felt like no time had passed! She even came shopping with me after lunch. She sat in the next cubicle while I tried on one dress after the other, giving me her approval (or not)!

I went back home after lunch and relaxed for a little while. I had to go back to the office as there were some leaving drinks for the HR department (the team of two had been made redundant – don’t ask). I got there in time for a shockingly embarrassing speech from the Chief Executive. I stayed a couple of hours, met a few ex-colleagues and then had to leave for my dinner that evening.

Some friends were taking me to Maguro, a Japanese restaurant in Maida Vale. I went over to their house first as I wanted to see the kids before they went to sleep and then we headed over to the restaurant.

Maguro is a tiny Japanese restaurant in Lanark Place, just behind Raoul’s. I think the food is great, but the restaurant is too dark and the tables are really close together. We had some sake and dinner (their salmon tartar is amazing – I’d never had it before). Another friend joined us while we were eating and then we all went to the pub next door for a drink.

I went to get my hair cut on Friday morning in St John’s Wood High Street.

2012

I then met the girls for lunch at Oslo Court. It’s one of my favourite restaurants in London – and I always overeat when I go there. The portions are huge! I started with the escargots and had the grilled salmon as my main course. I ordered a chocolate dessert which I couldn’t eat. I felt like I was in a coma. I had planned to go shopping after lunch but was feeling so lethargic it just wasn’t going to happen.

I ended up meeting a friend of my mum’s for coffee at Fenwick in Bond Street. I called her and told her I’d just eaten, that I don’t eat bread, and that I would just have a coffee. By the time I got there she’d ordered smoked salmon sandwiches and scones. I couldn’t touch anything. I had a coffee, she ate, and we left.

I walked around for a while and then went to the pub with the boys. On my way there I got a text from one of them saying he had a surprise for me. I had images of vodka shots lining the bar and thought about going back home. When I got to the pub his dad was waiting for me. He heard I was going to be there and wanted to see me and see how I was settling into Dubai life and so on. I was touched. I was there for an hour and then went home. Later that evening a friend came over and we opened a bottle of red at home. He stayed about an hour and then I had to get ready for dinner.

That night a friend had organised dinner at Novikov (or Escortikov as I like to call it). I’d heard so much about this place, good and bad – it was interesting to see it all in the flesh, so to speak. I’ve never seen so much cleavage in one room. Butt-skimming dresses, plunging necklines, fake lips, fake breasts, fake cheeks (both kinds). On the table next to ours were two guys with what looked like female twins – same short red dress, same long black hair in a ponytail, same everything really. After dinner we went down to the club for a few drinks. At 2am, the two of us that were left decided to go to Boujis in South Kensington. It was totally unnecessary but it seemed like a good idea at the time. We were there for an hour and then decided to go to Maroush for some food. We walked home at 4.30am and it was after 5am by the time I went to sleep.

One of the girls had her birthday lunch at Pearl Liang on Saturday. I could barely string a sentence together for most of the meal, but dim sum and diet Coke were just what I needed. After lunch I met one of my cousins for coffee at Selfridges and then walked home.

That evening was another friend’s 40th birthday. They’d booked a room at The Cinnamon Club in Westminster, champagne was flowing and the DJ was great. It was just me and two of the boys – their wives weren’t out with them that evening. It was like old times. And by that I mean there were shots, more shots, dancing and more dancing. We left at about 1.30am and on the way home one of the boys said ‘We should go somewhere – it’s just the three of us!’ So we ended up at Trader Vic’s (like old times) followed by the Colony Club (like old times). And once again, it was 4.30am when we got home (like old times).

I don’t know how I managed to wake up in ti
me for brunch on Sunday. We had a reservation at Cut at 45 Park Lane for 12.30 and we were on time. We’d booked it ages ago and I’d been looking forward to it. We sat down and as soon as I saw the menu, I knew what I was having. ‘But you’re supposed to have steak or some meat – that’s the specialty,’ my friend said. I didn’t care. To start with I had the fresh burrata, prosciutto di Parma, roasted peppers and basil pistou:

2012

And for my main course I had… buttermilk pancakes with whipped maple butter and seasonal berries:

2012

They were the most expensive pancakes I’ve ever had in my life, but they hit the spot. Along with the Bloody Mary.

On Sunday evening I went to a friend’s sister’s wedding reception. More champagne, more wine, the food was good, the music was amazing – I felt like I was back in the 1980s – ‘Caribbean Queen’, ‘Rhythm of the Night’, ‘All Night Long’, ‘Ain’t Nobody’… it was another heavy night.

Read more about London here.

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