Tea at the Ritz
It's a weirdly mild, warm Christmas in London. I walked to the tube feeling like a librarian in a purple tweed dress suit, stolen from Wickedex's wardrobe (which JatB likened somehow to necrophilia), blue hornrimmed librarian specs and a teeny red handbag. Boarding the second tube, after running from the first one squealing, librarianishly, that it was the wrong line, I proceeded to immerse myself in a tale of how if Clinton had fucked that intern in the arse, she'd never have told on him to Linda Tripp. That his real problem was forgetting how to Mafiosise his extra curricular shags by embarrassing people enough to keep their mouths shut.
Yeah, what I thought, I ended up reading someone's philosophy periodical's interview with Phillip Pullman instead.
At the Ritz, we had to ask where the Palm Court was, as the ten humongous Christmas trees rather obscured the view of mirrored doors and surfaces in every direction. We were shown to a table by penguined chaps (the table at the front of this picture), and proceeded to beat even the vicar two tables to the left with consumption of four tiers of crust-free finger food, dairy cakes, and petit fours.
Moving on from four silver teapots of Earl Grey to champagne, we and the toothless colonel parked outside the ladies powder room voted all the old dears in the place into rank order. We earnestly and delicately discussed tea, blogs, NYE Resolutions (never make them till November), voyeurs, Joe Pesci, sex, Colonel Peacock, friends, Duch's erratic love life, the other customers, Mr Bean, shoes, how to throttle a man to death between your thighs, Maccers, Viagra, fake tan, the toothless colonel's teeth, stockings, the King William College Quiz, SarahSpace's diet pills, parents of restricted height, the downbeat ending to Saturday Night Fever, neighbours, insanity, stiletto heels, and invisible non-existent children.
Afternoon tea passed, the Sinatraesque pianist shook off his geriatric stalker, and a crowd of choristers manifested themselves beyond the china crockery, to serenade us with Victorian carolling.
The second sitting of late afternoon tea began, and the ladies' dresses began to veer away from the matching tweeds and pearls, into flounces, taffeta and finery. JatB and I whiled away another two hours trying to spot Belle de Jour (there were around five hundred possible contenders).
A string quartet replaced the choristers, to hard stares and resounding unpopularity from all except the sudden influx of little girls wearing party dresses who wanted to waltz across the floor at the speed of Wonder Woman (by waltz, I mean jump up and down wiggling your arse in mid air, naturellement). The lights dimmed. The penguins in red waistcoats allowed themselves a giggle at the running hordes of gaudily frocked children. Cocktail hour began.
Polishing off the champagne, we began to look out of place, what without obvious plastic surgery, clothing unslashed to the thigh, and - the toothless colonel had left - no rich fat ugly bloke bankrolling the taffeta; we decided to walk along Piccadilly, past Eros, Leicester Square, and to look at the tree in Trafalgar Square, before going home.
The National Gallery had been lit up to resemble a particularly ugly Christmas present, although thankfully Big Ben and Nelson's Column had escaped the horror. Everywhere, in the sweltering mildness, tourists were decked in wintry bobble hats, ski jackets and scarves. Jumping onto the Bakerloo line, there was no giant flea, just a tattered copy of the Metro telling us the startlingly obvious: the tube strike had been cancelled. The beggars and buskers continued to ply their trades, regardless.
I'm definitely doing tea at the Ritz next Christmas Eve.