Date: 22 March 2015.
Location: Victoria’s Secret, New Bond St. My latest experiments with the mysterious cycle choices on my new washer/dryer tore up my bras. Sad face.
Welcome to a world where the only way into the club on Saturday at 10pm is a £400 bottle of champagne. I’ve spent much of the day at yum cha (Pearl Liang’s, Paddington, strongly recommend) catching up with Kennedy, Legally Blonde and others. All tragically hungover and in need of dumplings with chilli oil. My west side friends had spent the evening at the London Social, a charity black tie event. Apparently it was rubbish and they bailed for Maggie’s early on. Unfortunately, on a Saturday night, there are only two ways into rich kids’ club-house, neo-liberal, Tory-esque Maggie’s: be a group of only girls, or credit card your way in. The final alternative is to stand in the line of doom that actually never moves forward, as others around you cave and buy their way in or fall off, destined for less trendy venues. Kennedy and crew opted for the plastic option, rationally concluding that once they’d paid the extortionate cover charge and for drinks, the £400 bottle of french sparkles ‘actually was quite reasonable’. The drinks bill between eight would come to over £1,200 — but they dance the night away in style with Norweigen private equity fund managers, Bulgarian ambassadors and young Parisian investment bankers and Legally Blonde even manages a sneaky Grey-Goose-inspired dance floor kiss. Two, in fact.
Meanwhile, across Town, we’re having a very different kind of night. We’re at the Grand Union pub, Brixton. In a treehouse. For some reason we’re all in a devil may care mood and, after hefty Tube pre drinking, tequila shots seem like the most sensible option. I’m out with Twiggy, her cousin and Joey. We’re in Brixton because Joey did a semester of law school in Toronto where she met a crew of Yorkshire girls, most of whom now live in London and one of whom has a boyfriend with a birthday tonight. We all hug and note that it’s been five years since we last saw one another and the world feels increasingly small.
I’d been a little concerned about having Joey to stay in my sanctuary. We’re very close friends, but she’s so energetic and leans towards the overly dramatic. And I’ve chosen to live alone for a reason. However, it’s been so, so lovely.
She arrived — via Bali, staying at the lux W Hotel, in true Joey style — on Wednesday. We met at King’s Cross, I handed her keys, put her on the No. 259 bus and headed back to work hoping for the best.
Much later we met at The Angelic for ‘Angel’s Tears’ beers, burgers and catch up. Regardless of what else I feel around Joey, I never fail to be inspired. Here’s a girl who’s had it rough with her parents treating her as a peer and not a protégée (the pain of which I now understand too well) from too young an age, who is insanely bright, has this inexplicable magnetism and who is always leaping far, far ahead of the rest of the world. It seems a little lonely, though she’s literally never ever alone. We were at high school together, then at Law School together and then even did a summer internship together. Then our paths forked. I bought into the lawyer thing, she dabbled as a judge’s associate and found it lacking. She’s now a manager for travel company Busabout, and rising quickly through their ranks. I don’t know how she does it. She talked me through a typical week’s schedule and it made my head spin: up at 5am, 6am ferry from Athens, arrive on an island at 9am, settle group of 30 passengers into varying hotels, wrangle everyone to restaurant for lunch, give half hour spiel on Greek mythology, guide trip to black beach, get everyone to dinner, encourage group bonding, lead pub crawl, ensure tickets to club, drop last men standing off at club around 2am, pass out, up at 5am for admin and to ready everyone for 7am ferry…. And repeat. All summer. With no weekends. She seems to live on vodka and sausage rolls but is still slim with shiny hair and an enviable summer wardrobe (all of which she can pack into one suitcase).
Jetlagged, she starts to weaken around nine thirty this Wednesday and I take her home and, delighted to play house, set up my new sofa bed with its new and tasteful M&S linen.
The next evening we head out in Shoreditch to the Crown & Shuttle and on Friday its espresso martinis, Indian food and wine in Holborn. At some point I break the heel of my boot and, once home after midnight, make Joey help me superglue it back on. I wake up with my finger superglued to my papa as. Not the finest of moments.
This takes us to Saturday. I’m lecturing as we brush our teeth: ‘yes, it’s good that you take probiotics, but you need to be mindful that alcohol will dullen the effect if you drink too much!’ She looks at me in the mirror. ‘If I drink too much?’
I blush. She’s right, of course. London has made me put my hippy health ways to one side. I eat bread now, neglect my goal of 8 serves of vegetables a day, stay out too late and have shoved my yoga mat into a corner. I still feel like I’m on holiday, in this weird dizzying world where Saturday can start out with a £400 bottle of champagne in a bar dedicated to Margaret Thatcherand no one bats an eyelid.