And so it came to this; sitting on the bus going into town after a night of five hours sleep, feeling dreadfully short of pep and joie de vive. And all because I was in Claridges last night with family, drinking Armagnac. Er…and port. And then something that was related to the Chianti region. And before that a cheery Muscat that kissed the tastebuds and cascaded down the back of the throat like nectar. Before that there had been a Bloody Mary and before THAT a strangely antiseptic-tasting shaved ginger and lime and vodka concoction that was totally unnecessary but the law of Claridges Bar hath spoken and when Claridges Bar pulls you in, there is no escape.
Because the surroundings are splendid, you think that filling your stomach that everything else will be splendid, too. That is the great sense of delusion that the comfort and apparent sanctuary of great London hotel bars lure you into. I had a similar episode in the frighteningly posh Berkeley Hotel Bar several years ago. You don’t realise until you leave that life is in fact, appalling, that having four gin slings is not actually a good idea and you are now going to go home and be unwell. I do not know how I was not deeply unwell. Or at least why I wasn’t lying in a puddle of my own sick in Mayfair. The Armagnac glasses were the size of a man’s head. I can only imagine that the vast amounts of food we ploughed through in the dining room made some inroads in soaking up the above-mentioned mess. Despite the vast quantities of nonsense we ingested, the evening did not deteriorate. Although I did inadvertently lock myself in a Claridges loo and then had difficulty undoing the door to get out. I am happy in elegant surroundings and can hold my own in the art deco splendour of London’s most beautiful hotel bar with the best of them, but what is this strange loo-flush thing? Where you have to pull the lever up to get the loo to flush? In 1930 this was probably an innovation of toilet-flushery. In a heatwave in 2010 it’s just inconvenient to be stuck in a too-small lav pulling levers. Also, I can’t do any serious business in a loo that has an attendant directly outside the cubicle, complete with lunatic uniform, poised with the proffered towel. It’s off-putting. Toilet time is private time, kids. It’s sacred. Don’t start overpopulating the bathroom with servile ladies.
Thank God it was private at 5.20am this morning though, when I rose from the bedroom, clutching my overful bladder and staggering drunkenly to the bathroom. 3 pints of water before I went to sleep. 3 pints to flush out the truffle oil and the wine. 3 pints to do battle with the riotous contents of my stomach. 3 pints to put me back into the land of the living. 3 pints to try to make amends with my own digestive system, and as paltry compensation for the manner of abuse it had suffered. And now those 3 pints were making a break for the border by pressing against the sides of my bladder in anger. I tried to go back to sleep after the bathroom trip, but I started to think about the mammoth Claridges cheese trolley and then couldn’t get it out of my mind. Swathes of brie and goat’s cheese were rolling towards me on wheels, as I shakily stumbled back to sleep at 5.30am.
Breakfast was porridge and ibuprofen. Then I was back outside Claridges again, walking to the office and saying never, never again will I do truffle oil and port at the same sitting. It’s perverse. I’m perverse and deserve to suffer. My brain felt like there was a hedge inside it, prickly and green, with small woodland animals burrowing and scratching around in it. I think I had a cheese-based hallucination. I spent the remainder of the day feeling pious and drinking water and eating salads, wanting to go home, curl up on the sofa and watch “The Wizard of Oz” and have a little cry.
Please return to The London Bluebird if you enjoyed this. This blog is updated every Thursday.