We were in London last weekend for birthday celebrations! (his). We had dinner at The Ritz and afternoon tea at The Dukes Hotel in Mayfair. Get me! Yes, we were living the high life (although we did balance it out by staying at the very thrifty Premier Inn Hub on Brick Lane. More of that in a moment).
The first time we went to The Ritz (in 2008! I’ve still got the menus), I had a horrible headache, my man was hobbling due to a tennis injury and the next day, back home, he came down with pneumonia which necessitated a 999 call (nothing, I’m sure, to do with The Ritz but one remembers these things!).
This time, we assured ourselves, we would be ‘injury free’! But no – I am still bandaged up from my sprained ankle (tennis injury) and had to stop at the entrance of Green Park before we got to The Ritz, to slip off the tubi-grip – and the next day, due, I am sure, to all that champagne – and the London heatwave – I got another of my lovely ‘heads’. Anyway, we will have to go back again and hope it’s ‘third time lucky’.
You’re not supposed to take photos in The Ritz but we sneaked a few in at the bar and then, after dinner, when most people had gone home (and in fact, the cleaners were heading out with their Hoovers), we managed a few more. The Ritz is, in my humble opinion, quite perfect. (You can even have afternoon tea at 7.30pm!). It was opened in 1906 and Charlie Chaplin was a regular. It’s a little oasis of luxury and calm in a mad, mad world. I could quite happily have stayed there forever..
But no, after one more naughty cocktail at the bar, we jumped into a cab and went off to Brick Lane (immortalised of course, in the Monica Ali novel, which is one of my favourites). Brick Lane is famous for galleries, curry restaurants and markets, Spitalfields market is just down the road, as is Liverpool Street Station and I can highly recommend the Premier Inn Hub place.
We had a mooch around on Sunday morning and found a lovely book shop (which has a book club and a writing group, according to the website)..
AND this sign – which made me laugh and we had to take a photo.
If you read Writers Forum, you may have spotted the articles that Douglas McPherson has written about my People’s Friend serial and the process of writing it. The family that own the chocolate factory in the serial – the Allens – are Quakers, as were many of the chocolatiers of that time (Cadburys, Frys and Rowntrees). Somehow, during our telephone interview, Douglas and I got our wires crossed and in this month’s article, he states that I’m a Quaker. (That really made me laugh). Anyway, of course, there’s nothing wrong with it – in fact, some lovely people, like Judi Dench, are Quakers – but just for the record, I’m not one. Or at least, I wasn’t last time I looked.
Longlist: Random Words Writing Competition (Skyscraper, Vote, Frost, Sunshine, Toy)
I have appointed a judge for the random words writing competition and he/she is beavering away as I write, considering the (anonymous) shortlist.
But here, in the meantime is the long list of 10 entries, in alphabetical order by title:
• A Little Learning
• Battered by a Borzoi
• Deal or No Deal
• Life Changer
• The Most Unlikely Person To Enter A Beauty Pageant
• The Possibilities Are Endless
• Time To Go
• Treasure Hunt
• Window to Someone Else’s World
The shortlist will be published TOMORROW (Friday!) so make sure you come back then…!