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50-52

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La favourite thing on this holiday is breakfast.


Specifically, breakfast at Colbert. 

In my eyes, Chris Corbin and Jeremy King can’t put a foot wrong when it comes to old-school, mahogany-trimmed, straight-backed-waiter dining. From the Wolseley, where La once went elbow-to-elbow with poor old AA Gill, to the Delaunay, where we dine with AB and Marty over pink bubbles, I love these blokes and their posh nosh shops. 

This isn’t a trip where we’ve ‘done’ much. Seriousimo’s health has seen better days, so he’s rested up and spent time with his folks and fronkly, 2016 plum-tuckered us out. So there’s been much languishing on squishy sofas. Public preconceptions of my commitment to shopping far outstrip the boring reality: I’m not actually a fan. Having stuck my noggin into Selfridges briefly, all I did was perve at the Célines and order a quick tonging of the hairs at Hersheson’s drop-in blow-dry bar. 

What I want to do is this: sit quietly with a morning rag (enjoying the vast array of choice) and a flaky pastry, and see old friends.


Here at 50-52 Sloane Square, my view this minute is right down the barrel of Sloane Square. The Royal Court, where I used to partake of five-quid theatre nights, is to the left of me; David Mellor, where I bought my first sharp knife as a consenting, sterling-earning adult, is to the right. 

And inside here, jostling with the new memories I’m making of this place are other older ones, from when this was Oriel, and VI and I lived merrily beyond our means, sipping Soave and gin and writing bouncy cheques with our guarantee cards (remember them?) while making eyes at eligibles. Her beauty and vivacity often meant I sucked up her sloppy seconds, but – cripes – we were happy.

Oriel’s where my old buddy Cod – one of the procession of thoroughly new and exotic creatures Londra served up to a 22-year-old fresh off the cheapest one-way flight from Brisbane – described a man to me as having “a splodgy World War Two bottom”, a description that simultaneously summed up his humour, powers of observation and facility for language. 

And just now, as I’m wading happily in  the shallow rockpool of my memories, I’m grabbed by a much-missed old friend who’s just arrived at Colbert, one who fled the Wide Brown Land years ago for the comforts of Cheltenham. What are the chances? 

We’re meeting here tomorrow at 9, for a flaky pastry. 

Thanks, 50-52.

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