Peering pressure


I blame page 63. Though that’s probably not fair; Ludgate Circus should surely shoulder at least some of the responsibility and St Paul’s needn’t look so smug either. See, I was out with an old friend who was over from Ireland for a gardening show. Now, apologies to the eager beavers, but we are going to have to take a detour at this point, though we’ll be back. Page 63 hasn’t heard the last of it, I promise.

We’d met up, chum, his business partner, his daughter – and a woman who was so cool I got GirlCrush instantly, which hardened into adoration when I saw that not only did she laugh like a drain, but she kept a standard-size bathplug and chain on her keyring (‘I do a lot of travelling’). It was only after she’d left that the Beautiful Cool One turned out to have been Alys Fowler, gardening writer extraordinaire. Thank GOD I hadn’t hoisted that in before she left, with her folding bike, nipped-in tweedy jacket and Italian leather bag, because officialdom’s distinction between starry-eyed and barring order doesn’t always go my way.

Anyway, back to page 63, and our attempts to find a tube station after a few pints. It was around Smithfield and would the bloody A-Z snap into legibility? Would it balls. We eventually found our way by asking people, my vestigial memory of the area and Andrew’s sense of direction (‘Wait, you want to go east from here?’), which frankly would be strong enough to get him burned for a witch in my corner of Wessex.

Not 24 hours later: same again, withatwist, in the dimly lit delights of Black’s in Soho. The dining rooms are decorated circa 1790 and the menu has always been a challenge. Tetchily snatching up a companion’s reading glasses, I was amazed. The print positively scorched off the page! This is what 1.5 can do for you. Whatever that means. I’ve never needed any numbers other than 20/20 at the optician, so where the blue blazes 1.5 fits into things, God only knows.

Luckily I’ve always quite fancied glasses. The air of erudition they lend; the time they buy you while you fiddle about pretending they’re essential; oh, the whole why-Miss-Jones-you’re-beautiful of them. Terrific! Anyway, all good things come to he who waits – I’m off to get some specs. And Ludgate Circus better be ready for some swashbuckling circumnavigation…


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