Posted by Tania Kindersley.
This morning, I was to meet the co-writer at The Wolseley for breakfast. I was mildly tired after two days of hectic social activity, plus family, plus ecstatic wedding news. I did not feel like dressing up. It's only breakfast, I thought. And really: I actually don't care. So I put on my jeans and a nice but old cardigan in a most tasteful shade of what I think the modish people call taupe, and a pair of Spanish riding boots, which are possibly more useful than beautiful. (One cannot tramp the streets in red patent wedges; one must have sturdy boots for walking.) I threw a bright scarlet embroidered shawl round my neck and thought that would do it. Mostly, I was concerned with comfort. I was going to see Sarah, not parade down a catwalk.
Big big big mistake. Big. It's The Wolseley for God's sake. In FASHION WEEK. The place was comrephensively full at nine thirty in the morning. It probably seats a hundred people in its marble halls. Every single one of them was wearing black. It was a Bateman Cartoon. There was a sharp intake of breath. I was the woman who forgot to wear black to The Wolseley.
The maitre d' took one look at me, peered in astonishment down his long nose, and decided the only approach was to pretend I did not actually exist. The hat check lady looked studiedly at my left ear as she took my coat, averting her eyes from the sartorial disaster. The waitresses appeared confused, as if the departure from head-to-foot ebony simply did not compute in their brains. The other diners gazed and blinked in frank disbelief. The woman on the table next door stared at me for so long that I thought perhaps she was a long-lost relative whose name I had forgotten. (I am almost certain she was not.)
Sarah arrived in high-heeled knee-high boots, a chic black coat, and an elegant dress in such a midnight blue that it might as well have been black. (The Duke of Windsor always wore dark blue dinner jackets because he said they looked more black than actual black, which is an odd bit of trivia that I have never been able to dislodge from my brain.)
'I'm wearing colour in The Wolseley,' I said.
'Yes, you are,' she said, in a forgiving, never mind sort of voice, the kind of voice you use to comfort children when they spill orange juice on the carpet.
Then she kindly changed the subject.
The fashion ladies were showing each other pictures of lipsticks and next season's colours. I ordered a sausage sandwich. Sarah told me about a papier mache (sorry; can't do accents on this computer) globe that she had made for her children's school project.
'I realised there was something missing,' she said. 'And it was glitter. So I covered Antarctica and most of Africa in glitter.'
'I bet it looked MUCH better that way,' I said.
'Do you know, it did,' she said.
Then we talked about the intricacies of the AV referendum.
I ate my sausage sandwich. The woman on the next door table was staring again. I looked down, and noticed that my left boot had a little bit of Scottish mud on it.
I love the south. But I do quite yearn for my dear old Scottish mud.