Saturday, 7 August 2010

The A1 or The Ouse?

We’ve just returned from the centre of London where Nathan bought me three shirts for my birthday tomorrow. We went to Jermyn Street and I chose, amongst others a bright orange one. It looks a bit like I’ve thrown up all over it, or painted it with an organic egg yolk, but I think it’s suitably eccentric. I had an email asking me where I bought the purple shirt I wore on Look North last week, so have decided I'm now a style icon with a bohemian image to protect!

It is raining like you would not believe outside. The A1 actually looks like a river at the moment. I sincerely hope it’s not like this tomorrow because I’ve invited some of the people who can’t make my official annual birthday punting trip in Cambridge next week for a picnic on Hampstead Heath. The BBC tells me we’re due for a lovely day, which does seem to be the norm for my birthday, but I find this very hard to believe when I look out of the window.

We found ourselves walking down New Bond Street earlier on, which is a road neither Nathan or myself had ever explored. It’s a hideous place, filled to bursting with footballers wives, Hooray Henrys and the Twin-set and Pearls brigade. Tutting women bash you rudely with designer handbags as they jostle their way down the street. Chinless men dressed in chinos and double breasted blazers stand in shop windows being fitted for more double breasted blazers. I couldn’t believe how expensive things were. Here a scarf for £400. There a bowler hat for £250. It’s a world I’d be happy to never visit again.

Pepys did a full day’s work at the Privy Seal 350 years ago today. He lunched at Montagu’s with Mr Henry Moore, the lawyer and then in the evening went with his good friend Samuel Hartlibb by coach to Holland Park. Hartlibb went off to do some business and left Pepys in the coach for so long that he got bored and walked (a pleasant walk) to a inn in Kensington, where he waited “very long” for Hartlibb to reappear. The two then returned to Westminster and drank til 11 at night. Pepys returned home by foot and found his wife “pretty well” again. One thing I'd say about Pepys’ days is that they seem to last an eternity. A full day’s work, a social lunch, a trip to Holland Park and Kensington, a night of drinking in Westminster and a walk home to the Eastern edge of the City would be a full day by anyone’s standards! He may have existed on a diet of meat and alcohol, but at least he got regular exercise!

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