Saturday, 14 April 2012

Social butterfly

A long time ago, in a world long since forgotten, I was a bit of a social butterfly. When I say a bit, I mean a lot. At the time I spent an enormous amount of time in London, dashing from place to place, but, actually, had no idea that London extended beyond Knightsbridge and (via taxi) Mayfair. I'd heard of the underground, there's a station by Harrods, and the buses looked ever so pretty. But really, not for me.

A quarter of a century later I'm back, no longer shamefully slumping in to Harrods food hall first thing, slingbacks in hand, in search of baconz. A more responsible, grown up and having-to-actually-work-for-a-living approach that I'm sure is better for the soul. But not everything has changed, I've been re-learning the gentle art of being a social butterfly. And how I've missed it.

The weekend started on Friday. As it should. About 3pm on Friday in my case. I'd arranged to meet a writer friend at the Hampshire Hotel on Leicester Square. But it would be quite early, 5pm! That's astonishingly early. It's not a place I could think I'd been before, so was a little nervous, that and having the whole "eek, tourist central" concern that it would be packed and awful. But, he's a writer/editor of film scripts and spends a great deal of time in the area catching up, as he puts it "on the trade" which I think is a euphemism for spending the afternoon sitting in cinemas catching up on the latest flicks. Quite civilised if you think about it.

As it was going to be an okay place. And it wasn't raining, I actually wore heels. Nominally sensible ones. The same ones I wore on Wednesday that had rubbed a bit. I am, if anything perpetually stupid. I knew how monumentally stupid by the time I reached the bus stop. The plaster had moved and I was bleeding a little.

And I was late.

So I did what any sensible girl would do, got on the bus and planned to change the plaster on the underground. So, picture the scene, central line, hurtling in to London and me, trying to hide the fact that I'm removing one hold up fixing the plaster and then attempting to pull it back up. Ha! Easy off, tricky on. Sitting down. On a train. Trying not to be too obvious.

The funny thing was, the guy I was sitting next to, playing with with his iKnob, was so blissfully aware that he missed this semi-striptease show. Anyway, fixed. Sort of. So on I pushed and after fighting my way through the slow movers (and maybe changing trains at Holborn) emerged blinking in to the harsh tourist hell outside Leicester Square station. I wasn't going to suffer the full experience so walked down towards the National Gallery to avoid the hell of the square. When I say walked... Hobbled. This was not good. Really not good. Really stupid.


On the bright side I knew I would be fed champagne for medicinal pain relief purposes, so I bravely marched on. Even hobbling I was still quicker than most tourists. It must be said though, I've never been so grateful to reach a place as I was that day!

The only fly in the ointment (other than the crippling pain) was that I was greeted by a 6' 1" insanely slim and disgustingly good cheek bones Russian girl, I was instantly the short dumpy one again, pfft. Not at all intimidating. But she was very sweet, and as a maĆ®tre d' was very efficient, making sure that my friend kept me well and truly fizzed up.

The conversation flowed beautifully and, being in the window, the people watching was epic. Though the best was definitely to be seen inside the hotel. I'd almost forgotten how interesting it was to try and work out the stories behind couples or groups sitting quaffing champagne at 5 in the afternoon. Oh.

Anyway, it wasn't like that in my case. Before I knew it, it was, sadly, 8pm and my companion had to go off to something else. Originally I was going to spend the rest of the evening in the National Gallery and then maybe wander on to Dukes Bar for a martini (one of the few places I would consider doing this alone in), but with my now dodgy heel the most I could manage was to walk, arms linked, on to the tube station and, eventually, home.

Problem was... I was now in serious trouble, the pain was excruciating, blood covering my heel and tights, there was nothing else for it... Shoes off. So there I was, a quarter of a century on, padding through the tunnels, holding shoes. The difference being back then it was from late night dancing, now it was simply about pain avoidance.

How middle-aged am I?!

My only concern was how on earth I would get from Mile End station to Limehouse Cut. Bus, obviously, but I then had to walk. And as much as I didn't mind walking the tunnels, I wasn't keen on walking on the pavements near our home with no shoes. Err. Oh!


My saviour arrived, in the shape of a black cab. Best fiver I ever spent as he dropped me as close to the door as he could, bless him. It was incredibly good to be home. And near lashings of Sudocrem ;-)

And the fridge.

Which was where my epic vomlette came from. I do love throwing things together... So I ate, and read and, finally, drifted off in to a food induced sleep, happily ignoring the text messages that related to the next day and yet more butterflying.

The funny thing is, 25 years on I may be older, and fatter, and more cynical. But, as I sit in our lovely little apartment, I realise I know one thing for sure...

I have never been happier.

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