I'm just back in from London, and just about to pop out with Flash & Lord B. to watch the Bluetones... but time enough to give you a very quick run down of my weekend.
Escaped work early and ended up on the 15:30 to London. Train was slightly delayed, naturally, but it meant I got some time to have a relatively uniterrupted blast at my novel. Arrived in London at 6-ish and immediately got a cab for the hotel as I was now running late. I had thought I would get away with a silent journey, but sadly the cabbie is soon into full swing. He was 70 years old and a veteran of the Korean war, so potentially quite interesting. Like all cabbies though, he fatally misunderstood that a conversation needs to be two-ways, and frequently talked straight over me. I soon gave up trying and just let him get on with it.
The Ball itself was in the Grosvenor Hotel on Park Lane, and was one of those charity dos - this one for the benevolent fund of the Electrical Beauty industy (or something). I can't help thinking that there are more worthwhile causes than members of their industry who have fallen on hard times, but our host kept the champagne flowing and they raised 260,000 from an auction hosted by someone I didn't recognise from 'Allo 'Allo, so you can't grumble can you? Also featured a Rat Pack tribute act notable for:
a) a remarkably short Dean Martin
b) Frank Sinatra's memorable wig (so much like the real Sinatra then)
c) the casual racism towards Sammy Davis Jr (again, much like the real thing then)
The rest of the evening was fun though. How old do you have to get before you get bored of free booze? I have a suspicion that our waiter was Bob Paisley, but I can't be sure. He got me a very nice whisky for the toasts though.
Collapsed into bed around 2am
Full English Breakfast at the hotel, followed almost immediately by a lunch date with C's brother and his fiancee, who are leaving for several months in Australia on Tuesday. I had a coffee and watched them eat.
Went shopping. Notable for 2 instances of excellent customer service:
1) You remember my squeaking shoes? I bought them when I was in Australia in January 2004, but luckily R.M.Williams have a shop in London, so I took them in to have them fixed. The assistant took one look at them and said that a squeak could only be a manufacturing fault, so they are shipping them back to Australia to be hand-repaired, sent back and posted up to me. All gratis. I was very impressed. Mind you, I feel the need to go to future forests or somewhere and try to make myself carbon neutral as I shudder to think how much C02 I am creating just to get a pair of shoes fixed.
2) You remember I bought a PowerBook in January this year?? When I purchased it, I had asked them to add another 512mb of RAM to take the whole thing up to 1Gb. When I was idly checking the "About this Mac" section the other day, I saw that only 750mb were present. As I had my laptop with me for novel writing purposes, I popped into the Apple Store on Regent Street and asked them about it. It turns out that the PowerBook only has 2 slots for memory, one is fixed at 256mb and the other is removable, but intially 256mb. What they had done was replaced the 256mb with a 512mb and given the whole thing back. I was a bit cheesed off about this, but what they immediately offered to do was to replace the 512mb with 1gb of RAM free, so I now have 1.25Gb of RAM installed. They also gave the thing a damn good clean. Well done Apple. I think they liked me because I had bought a computer... they seemed a little bit wistful that they had become "The iPod shop". Ah well, eh? Crying all the way to the bank.
Did some other assorted wandering about, and also finally got round to spending some of the vouchers my mum and dad gave me for the Neal's Yard Dairy in Covent Garden... they were great in there and I am now the proud owner of a fridge full of stinking cheeses. Montgomery's Cheddar, Gubeen, Appleby's Cheshire & 1/2 a Childwickbury, to be exact. Mmmm.
Had dinner at Belgos - a belgian restaurant in Covent Garden. Lots of Belgian beer & moules frites. Delicious. Highly recommended. You know you are in for a treat when the waiter hands you a separate beer menu. Excellent service too.
Day only ruined by a fire alarm in the hotel at some ungodly time of the morning (actually about 8am, but you know what I mean.... not nice)
More general pootling about. C. bought my Christmas present in the Oakley store, lunch at the Hamburger Union and then back to St Pancras and more novel writing on the train. I'm up to a shade over 30,000 words now, although I'm not sure where I'm going to be honest. I need to go for a swim and have a think. Perhaps I should kill someone else off?
Right. I think you're up to date. Are you alright?
Bluetones review tomorrow sometime.
Alcohol-Free Beers (Part Fourteen)
4 days ago