Thursday, 9 August 2012

At work we three kick ass.

Vee, vicar's daughter - teeny, feisty, not really the touchy-feely type, and sometimes brusque enough to make even me look cosy, and Em -  a Kiwi who doesn't take any prisoners so don't be fooled by that hair-twirly thing she does and the little-girl leg entwining.  Then me.  Mme Whiplash. Depending on the day.

I run the office, Em runs the editorial department and is generally the acknowledged power behind the throne, Vee runs me,  as well as rights, digital and probably the Home Office.  And we're in Covent Garden.  Drinking cocktails in a New Zealand restaurant.

They have mojitos, I have a vodka and slimline tonic - because I'm back in the Dukan Gulag and trying to remain within the spirit - as it were - if not the letter of the law.

We have a table outside.  I nipped into it the second the people already there got up to leave, much to the dismay of the girl from Britain & Ireland's Next Top Model (and yes, I am sad to actually know that) who stood up a second after me and sort of 'Ahh' ed.  Like a false start, though it was more of a late start, because I got in there first.  Olympic Table Vaulting Gold goes to Mme Whiplash...

I'm settling everyone's bags and coats around me as I race for victory while Vee has gone to get fags and Em is at the bar - it's a team sport...

I'm extremely pleased with myself.  We can eat supper here - it's the first warm night in weeks. Then BNTM girl says: 'excuse me, but you know the reason I was sitting here on this bench (three yards away from the table) was because I was waiting for that table...'

'I'm sorry, but we were also sitting on the bench (one yard away from the table - I mean, tactics, girlie, tactics) and I didn't know you were waiting, you didn't mention it, and there wasn't, like, a line or anything...'  No I didn't say, like, and act black, and in your face, with the head wobbling finger waggling thing going on, but it was implied.  Instead I smiled, apologetically and ignored her sulking. You snooze you loose - time and tables wait for no man, etc. etc. etc.

'And you're not really sorry are you?'  She added, accusingly.

What could I say?  'No, not at all,' I replied.  And shrugged.  She didn't know who she was up against. After the day, week, months we've had at work, we three are like a tag team of the very pissed off.  No way she was getting this table with her pouty little dummy spit.  No wonder she was in the bottom two this week.

Another round of drinks.  A cosmo, a sparkle, and a vodka martini, straight up with a twist - so cold, please, that it takes the enamel of my teeth...  We're all there with our little martini glasses in various pastel shades - pink, yellow, and mine clear, which I realise as I sip it, is actually exactly what I had the first time round but without the slimline tonic.  Even closer to the spirit of Dukan.

Michael arrives.  He might own the restaurant.  He might manage the restaurant.  He might be partners in the restaurant.  I'm not sure.  I'm not sure I feel my lips.  I'm sure he was taller.  More recognisable the last time I saw him.   We have pedrone peppers, drenched in salt.  We decide on some wine, and some 'small dishes'.  Restaurants are so clever, tempting you with 'small dishes' for prices that seem, if not reasonable, at least not frightening, and then they leave you to drink, letting you get drunker before they arrive with them so that you're on the second bottle of wine before the scallops arrive and you find that 'small' means microscopic and numbers one each, and the duck is arranged on a saucer, and the salad is in a soup bowl, and the squid is in a ramekin...  Delicious though.

'Fairly Dukan...' Vee says since, even though both the prawns and squid are battered wearing ice crystals with more salt than Salar di Uyuni and the duck is melting with fat, and there's creme fraiche with the scallops which I'm now spooning into my mouth like it's dessert, there is, undoubtably and indisputably, protein on the table.

We've put the Company fully to rights by the time we're on the peanut butter parfait (oh drop dead Dukan) when I mention a book I've been reading that's set in New Zealand and very evocative.

'I wonder why we don't all just live there - it sounds so beautiful...' I say, swooning on about the birds and the scenery and the landscape.

'It is amazing, stunning and empty - you just can't believe how beautiful it is,' said Em and Vee agrees as I continue to gush about horses and surfing beaches and rainforests and mountains - she who fears horses, hates to swim out of her depth, and couldn't trek if her life depended on it...

'But it's provincial,' says Em.

'Yes, it's like a 1957 country fair,' agrees Vee.

'No theatre to speak off,'  adds Em who hasn't been to the theatre as long as I've known her, and whose weekends seem to revolve around sitting in a beach hut in Whitstable with her two kids and no TV, like something out of Enid Blyton.

'Food and wine's good though, mind you it's not London..,'  says Vee, my fellow Dukaner who gets through most of the week on cottage cheese and wafer-thin, probably mechanicall recovered, pressed ham from Waitrose essentials range.

'And there's no culture,' Em says.

'Absolutely no culture,' echoes Vee, who - I remind you had a drink called a sparkle - and had been regaling us with tales of her forthcoming weekend on the lam in Spain with her gay hairdresser - about whom I know one fact - that he's also  been on Dukan for a month and lost a stone.

Britain's Next Top Sulky model has been looking at her phone for the last twenty minutes, jabbing it with an angry finger, as we leave.  Vee goes to that well known intellectual haven Colliers Wood where she admits the next day, she had another can of lager with the last fag, before she turned in, while I went home underneath the Westway on the No 7 to suburbia, too drunk to even read my text messages.  Em went North and can't remember actually getting home.

Yep.  God forbid that we ever lived somewhere without any culture.