Friday 26 September 2008

Dinner with a legend

14st 9lb, according to the LTCB’s most unforgiving scales; 4.2 units of alcohol yesterday; 1,228; Grosvenor Park.

It is remarkable how the world can change completely overnight. Until yesterday evening, my Border terrier had spent more than 49 canine years absolutely convinced that the best thing in the world was chasing sheep. Now he has suddenly discovered that the perfect pastime is, in fact, pursuing grey squirrels. Or at least it would be if it were not for the infuriatingly persistent presence of some fat git at the other end of his lead. Squirrels are a much more manageable size than sheep; they have infinitely more fascinating, bushy, mobile tails; and he is clearly entranced by the way that they teasingly stop to sit up and think about their next move from time to time, even when a dog is bearing down on them at some speed. True, they do have a disconcerting tendency to run up trees – a feat that even the Scottish blackface sheep struggles to bring off – but this detail is certainly not enough to put him off. So we spent an hour or so in the park this morning while he strained on his lead, making a noise disconcertingly like a heavy breather on the phone to a nunnery, and I thanked my lucky stars that there was not a children’s play area where a concerned mother might ring the police and report me as the culprit.

This evening we were invited out to dinner by an old friend of mine who also happens to be the LTCB’s boss, and who inadvertently introduced us by posting one of my newspaper columns on his corporate website. We went to a packed and noisy restaurant that served fine food and had the finest lavatories in the known world – an essay in marbled magnificence. I would love to repeat all the malicious gossip we exchanged about former colleagues, friends, acquaintances and enemies, but oddly enough I am going to draw a veil over it all. Even though, in my days as a City PR man, I enjoyed a reputation as a person of such legendary indiscretion that telling me something in the strictest confidence was widely recognized as a faster and cheaper alternative to placing full page advertisements in a couple of mass circulation newspapers and booking a series of prominent 48 sheet poster sites.

The one thing I will reveal of our evening with this legendary entrepreneur is that, towards the end of our time in the restaurant, his wife pronounced that I had become “less odd”. Eerily echoing the other friend’s wife who felt on Monday that I had become “more civilized”. I do not think that this can just be the beneficial product of time and experience. Clearly being with the Less Tall Cheshire Brunette is pressing me into a mould of normality. As a keen student and advocate of eccentricity, I would not be easily convinced that this was a good thing, but for the fact that meeting her has clearly also made me happier. For evidence of this, see this blog over the last six months or so, passim.

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