Tuesday, 28 April 2009


I give you my word, and  my word is my bond, that I will not be mentioning Mr Jacqui Smith in this glamorous new post, even though I can't find contempt enough for a man who would invoice the state for Anal Boutique Parts 1 and 2 and £9.99 for a Wahl Beard Trimmer.  No, I have had a wonderful week, and I know you are breathless, positively asthmatic, for my pensees and I will not besmirch them with the shady onanist of Redditch.  

Firstly, may I get Susan Boyle out of the way?  She is not a particularly good singer.  There, I have said it.  I was once at a party in Beaconsfield where Elaine Paige was a fellow guest.  After (not very much) encouragement, she clambered onto a table and gave us Mack the Knife.  A priceless Strass chandelier was rendered to powder after she hit the money note,  showing what a true professional can do with Kurt Weill and a makeshift megaphone.  Susan Boyle, on the other hand, is applauded because she looks like Denis Healey in slingbacks.  If only she had stuck to this shtik, possibly with a well-placed impersonation of Healey arguing with George Brown,  then she would have won the hearts of the nation for all the right reasons.  After all, whoever claims not to miss Mike Yarwood is either a liar or a fool. Possibly both.  However, I now see that Susan is receiving proposals, some of them for marriage, by every post!  When I read that, I thought SHE looks like the Bunyip, for God's sake, and I'M not getting laid.  The whole thing is beyond reason.  

Anyhoo, on with my glamorous news.  You will be relieved to hear that I went to Gordon Ramsay at Claridges last week, after being in a prolonged sulk over the closure of my beloved Causerie, and the hidden entrance on Davies Street.  It matters little how you feel about the old blasphemer when you sink your teeth into his provender,  because I can cheerfully report that the standard is thrillingly high, and reassuringly expensive.  I had smoked halibut with Oscietra caviar, then veal and artichoke with sauce Robert and a saffron creme brulee with roast mango.  I drank two Tanquerays and a bottle of Soave Classico and had an animated conversation with Tory funster Alan Duncan who was at the next table.  He tries too hard, but I let him prattle away.  Noblesse oblige, as I never tire of saying.

My dear old deceased papa loved Claridges.   It was he who first took me there, to the Causerie, as a silent and surly seventeen-year-old.  I had pale green hair and a pair of perspex stilettos, but no-one baulked.  On the contrary, they kindly brought me a plate of whitebait, which is all I would eat at the time, and some chocolate cake.  Over the years, my father and I would meet up at the Davies Street door, and once inside I would tell him my news, which was always dismal and sometimes dangerous, and he would give me a good lunch and an envelope full of money.  My mother never came because she never knew.  My father was worried about me, but I was beyond the pale; during my Lost Years I often found myself in Davies Street.

My father was careful around food.  A generational thing,  but also because he had what would now be called A Cholesterol Problem.  A very thin man, he just manufactured the stuff, and there wasn't much he could do except not add to it.  However, he adored London restaurants and in the 1960s when he maintained a provincial NHS surgery and a private practice in W1, he began to keep a little notebook about memorable meals.  My mother, the glamorous old harridan, and I are currently engaged in the drearsome process of clearing my father's belongings, and I came across his restaurant journal yesterday under a pile of old Lancets.  His first entry is for what remained his favourite restaurant of all time, Prunier's of St James's Street, and it concerns a date in 1964 when he was taken there to celebrate victory in a court case.  More than once my father had to give evidence at grisly proceedings concerning the Felonious Use of an Instrument to Procure a Miscarriage Contrary to Section 58 of the Offences Against the Person Act.  He truly hated being summoned to appear on these occasions, as the story was often sordid or sorrowful, and he was always on the side of the unfortunate woman and frequently, ironically, also spoke for the abortionist which made him unpopular.  The instrument of choice was usually a Higginson's syringe ("kindly pass it to the jury") and if you haven't seen one, then you should.  The 1967 Act will make absolute sense to you then, if it hasn't already.  Anyway, Prunier's.  Sweetly, he records the menu, the other guests, and what they drank.  Pate Traktir, Tournedos Boston, pommes allumettes, haricots verts, fromages assortis, souffle Cote d'Azur.  1960 Muscadet, 1955 Ch. Nenin, 1959 Ch. Suduiraut.  Almost nothing on that menu makes any sense anymore.  Who would call for such a board?  

The next entry concerns Quaglino's - Quag's - of Bury Street, which he regarded as a treat, or somewhere to take Americans.  He was with a party of GPs from Chicago one night in October '64 when they ate brochette de fruits de mer, cailles perigourdine, courgettes, pommes Berny, salade, Crepes Quaglino (1962 Chablis Grand Cru; 1959 Ch. Leoville Barton; 1961 Bollinger; 1928 Croizet Gr. Reserve).  In big red letters, in the big red letters that he used to scribe over patients' notes ("time waster", "NLFTW", "Catholic" etc. etc.) he has written 'THEY PAID!"  I bet they did, poor fuckers.

I wish I could report that Gordon at Claridges carries the same shimmer as Quag's and Prunier's, but I don't think it does.  One senses an invitation to be impressed; celebrity carries all before it.  The customer is almost incidental.  Still, it was nice to be asked, and the company was agreeable.  They paid.


  1. 'Denis Healey in slingbacks'! Still laughing!

  2. Ahhh... the BUNYIP looks well cute... How do you cook it?

  3. OK, I'll bite.

    What's NLFTW?

  4. National Liberation Front Traditional Wing?
    But maybe not?!

  5. 1928 Croizet Gr. Reserve?... indeed he was a man of refinement.

  6. My dad took me to the Savoy chip shop on Sauchiehall Street. I feel shortchanged.

  7. My mother -in -law took me to Kettners in Romilly Street

    The food was lovely.

    I WAS shortchanged.

  8. sometimes I can't see the story for the words, each well chosen word washes through my tiny brain until the next one washes over it. By the time the seventh arrives the first has been lost.

  9. The Higginson's syringe (shudder!!!)

    Excellent gourmandising!

  10. What a lovely story. Like your Dad I too make a note of memorable dinners. Steak with curly fries tonight and lots of peas.

  11. Mr Marks has given you a 'Sexy Blog' Award, Mrs P. HERE.
    You have to tell her Emerson, she's going a bit deaf.

  12. Your talent is terrifying to behold.

  13. What a lovely story. Used to love Denis Healey's eye brows. Living so far away from London it is lovely to hear of familiar places, of long ago.
    Cheers Grump x

  14. I just worship at the feet of the musical star Bernadette Peters and everyone else just pales into significance.

    This Boyle-mania that is sweeping the world - I still don't know why she can't shape her eyebrows. How hard is it?

  15. Kind friends will notice that I have learned how to be bold. This is because I wanted the sentence about not getting laid to really stand out, so to speak. I am also learning linking. Here is my first attempt:
    my exciting spring wardrobeThis is where I get my frocks, as Inky has already guessed.

  16. Well, that went quite well, I think, except I would like it in bright blue and more spacey, as the actress said to the bishop. Anyhoo, the point is I have only one person to thank for this, and it is eroswings who speaks in plain English and was able to guide me through this hateful process in a way that others couldn't.

  17. Relieved you didn't have one of Gordon's take aways.
    As a 17 yr old on my first trip to London representing my hospital, I met a man on the train who took me to Quaglinos. I can't remember how I got back to the hostel safely- just thankful I did.
    Dennis Healey? Naughty Mrs P!

  18. It was Mike Yarwood who set me on the path to stardom as a Michael Footogram. Of which more later.

    More New Labour female horrors: Did you know that Harriet Harman's father, a horny-handed Harley St quack, testified at the trial of MD mass-murderer John Bodkin Adams? For the defence.

  19. Inky - NLFTW not long for this world. Apparently, GPs slang is dying. Shame. Wish I could remember more of it, but these were some of my dad's faves:
    HIBGIA had it before, got it again
    TTFO told to fuck off
    FLK funny looking kid
    OBE open both ends (vomiting & dia)
    TFTB too fat to breathe
    D&D divorced and desperate
    BUNDY but unfortunately not dead yet
    Vitamin H (Haldol)
    Vitamin M (Morphine)
    Vitamin V (valium, diazepam or any intravenous sedative)
    I will ask the harridan to remind me of some others.

    Hello, Mapstew. Cruel, I know, but accurate. Yesterday I saw the headline Frumpy Scot Astounds Again, but it was only about Gordon Brown.

    Scarlet, for shame! Remember what happened to Freddie Starr.

    Mr Jimmy, my father was a man of great natural refinement. The youngest of seven children from an immigrant family, he grew up on the mean streets, but his considerable intellect meant he was destined for the Thames Valley. Deo gratias. However, he rather ruined things in 1965 when he travelled to the United States for the first time and brought back 3 canisters of aerosol cheese and a Peter, Paul & Mary LP.

    Madame D, I have been to S'hall Street very recently, but you will be relieved to hear that I did not scruple to visit a chip shop. Instead, I went to a hideous restaurant on Argyle Street where there was some unpleasantness about anchovies. I was very pissed.

  20. For Inky from the HarridanUBL untreated by locum
    GOK God only knows
    GOLP general old lady pains
    WNL will not listen
    CFU completely fucked up
    ALP acute lead poisoning (euph. for gunshot wounds -found in rural practices and most SE London postcodes)
    DEAD Dr's earlier appointment declined. (Used for annoying patients who, although wanting to be seen immediately would never want to come before 12 noon. This was in the glory days when appointments were available and the deli-counter system was unknown. A patient once caught sight of DEAD on her notes. Luckily, she was quite mad. "Am I dead, doctor? Please tell me the truth!" "No, no, nothing to worry about, Mrs Jones, harharharhar. Alive and kicking. Just my little joke". "Thank goodness for that, doctor! But you will tell me when I am, won't you?" What a shame these days are gone! The new breed wouldn't know how to wriggle out of a scene like that with any grace.

  21. Hello, Mr Retronaut, how nice. I have never been to Kettners. Would you like to take me there? I worry, however, that you flag up your shortchanging. I see you with a coin-purse in your hand, shifting from foot-to-foot as you pour the coppers into your palm. Suddenly, the arithmetic kicks in: you are 87p down and unhappy. You fall into a mope and take a huge handful of Imperial mints from the reservation desk as you pass.

    Wendy, at the risk of repeating myself, although you torture the language, you have never succeeded in making it betray its meaning. I cannot work out whether this is a compliment, or a complaint. Did you buy it at Jackson Freres? I see they have opened a new Comments Department in an attempt to go with the zeitgeist. Most of it is off-the-peg, and I suspect that's what you've bought. I urge you to go for a tailored aphorism next time; maybe even a designer number.

    Kev, I feel your shudder from here. Do you actually own a Higginson's? Many northern homes keep enemas as standard; I have seen them with my own eyes, stored in sideboards in old Crawford's shortcake tins.

    Emerson, you are what you eat, hemhem. Scarla and I conjecture that Fielder must eat Angel Cake. Scarla also said something vile about a saveloy, over which I will draw a veil. (Mmm nice image, actually. Like that one, Sca?)

  22. I would like it with extra lashings and sauce.

  23. Yes, Scarlet, thank you. I have seen my award and accepted it with the grace and lack of enthusiasm which has become my hallmark. Actually, Emmers, I now know linking, so I will be able to carry it home.

    Oh Grump, I do feel sometimes that I add to your unbearable homesickness in a winsome way, and that you should visit Blighty will all available haste. If nothing else, it may lay ghosts for you. However, I was in the West End last night, disporting myself in the Garrick Arms, and it was all rather wunderbar. London looks lovable again, praise be to God.

  24. EXTRAORDINARY BUT TRUEMy word ver't for that last comment was PORKISM. Now, as you know, this page is strictly kosher, so technically porkism isn't allowed. Also, I wondered whether my glamorous site might be the first British victim of Swine Fever and, if so, which of my visitors has infected me? Lastly, could it be a kick in the ass for those of you who haven't been as disciplined around pastry as you shoulda? Summer is here (Thames Valley) and soon your midriff will tell a hideous tale. Do reign yourselves in with all available haste.

  25. Dear Mrs Pouncer ,(if I may make so bold on our first acquaintance} So sorry to have given the wrong impression, but the short changing was not of the fiscal variety....You see ,I married the damned woman`s daughter.
    The mope endures and I doubt can be cured by Imperial mints alone.....
    Now,How`s your diary ?

  26. Hello Frenchay, oh me, too! Apart from her chin, that is, but she looks better now than she ever did. Loved her in Silent Movie. Saw her at the Festival Hall about 10 years ago, which was memorable for many reasons, and not least because it was the first time I had worn a thong, and also because I sat next to Ronnie Corbett.

  27. I once had occasion to catalogue the contents of a chemist's shop in Tyldseley. Said contents included a Higginson's syringe. It may even have been the same specimen you saw: it was, indeed, in a red Crawfords biscuit tin circa 1932.

    I seem to remember there being a code for certain emotional disturbances of teenage girls:
    OM - overbearing mother

  28. Farrish! The Kilburn Kolboynik, as I live and breathe! Yes, I am terrifying, aren't I? But you love it. Ad me'ah ve'esrim shanah.

    Pat, you give me palpitations. I'm agog. Please let me know, under separate cover if necessary, the full details of this histoire. Live dangerously! (Although I think you already have. Naughty. Tres).

    Oh Boyo, it's one of those Fridays - and actually. cut me some slakc, I havenlt jhad one ofthose for ages, however - it just is, and I can't be arsed to think of something clever, so please come and have a chaste drink with me next, what, Friday? Thursday? You choose. Whatever. And Wendums, if you're reading this, come too, would be fab to see you again. I will languish on one of the banquettes at Malmaison til about 10 and if you haven't shown, then I'll book a room harharhar. No, wait, I have decided for you: I will be there on Friday. From, errrm, 7.30 pm. Wendy, do you see this? Friday. Also, Scarla. It is not that far, and you can book a room. Reading is truly glamorous. There. I have decided. Auty?

  29. I am totally going to bed pissed. You are all aunts (predictive text) except Mr Bucks and Kev. Noone seems to (a) like me or (b) take me seriously. I hate the world.

  30. Ruf and I have been giggling over your Dad's abbreviations. Lovely post x

    PS Ruf doesnt like Gordon because he doesnt like vegans :)

  31. Just really enjoyed your reference to "aunts" and better yet, the explanation.

    Hope the hangover ain`t too fierce.

    Hang loose,Babe.

    So......back to my original enquiry...or are you "All Show and No Go" ?!

    Oy !

  32. Hello, Mrs Cakes! And feel free to use them. I think you will find TTFO and CFU useful in the course of a normal week, and there is always room for OBE after a lamb bhuna.

    Mr Retronaut, well really! Your over familiar approach is highly suspect, and not recommended on this glamorous page. However, noblesse oblige, and let it never be said that I turn down a challenge. Moreover, I am troubled by "hang loose". I am always firmly swaddled in a Rigby & Peller Mary Jo or an Agent Prov. Manuela, so spontaneous movement is always restricted. Good friends will confirm this to you under separate cover. Londres on Wednesday, then. I am always accompanied by Mr Musgrove, my choreographer. He provides the counterpoint to my gentility, as he is from Manchesterford. Shall we say 12 noon?

  33. I shall now try and provide a link to Mr Musgrove:

    mr musgrove

  34. I would like the world to know that I am not Mrs. Pouncer's gigolo.

    Not least because she leads in the valeta.

  35. Kev, wherever there is strict tempo, there is you.

  36. Dear Madam.
    I am gratified,and to a certain extent emboldened by your reply, the latter having been designed,as you will no doubt have gathered, to evoke a certain response.
    However I must equally confess to misgivings concerning your stated preference in unmentionables....True,Messrs R&P have been improving their act vis a vis their product range of late but I cannot escape a feeling of deflation as I have always thought of them as having a nuance of Eau de Lavande such as pervaded my dear grandma`s Spirella accoutrements.
    Not wishing to cast our relationship into bottomless perdition at this early stage,I have decided to keep a weather eye lifting in the guise of a watching brief to see how you shape up.
    I therefore feel it appropriate to postpone our initial rendezvous ,and must just add that I would be unlikely to enjoy the company of your uninvited friend pending clarification of his proposed role in matters,despite his recent assurance.
    I fear for the security of my mint imperials.

  37. Dear Mr Retronaut, you beast! I am in the business of gratifying whims, and R&P have a dedicated and delusional following. Therefore, I like to keep an example of their craft at hand. Your grandmamma's foundation-wear was fashioned to lift and separate: that's how it was then. These days, corsetry is merely another species of slutwear (my dear friend Inkspot a key reference here). However, the recession has reached the Thames Valley, and last month found me queueing like a pleb in La Senza with the lovely Debbie McGee. A full list of my purchases can be found in a previous post.

    I am disappointed that you have blown me out, and so early, too. I will give you another chance, and leave Kevvie baby at home with the pugs. Meet me in Villiers Street next Wednesday outside Oswald Mosley's old house. 1300 hours.

  38. Sorry, Inky, tried to link you, but failed. A bit pissed. I will have another go another day.