WIW: medium blue shirt, pink/orange/white/blue striped bow tie, jeans.
WRW: ivory shirt, purple sweater, jeans.
We had a breakfast date with Richard’s friend Lena. They were work colleagues briefly and then did the free upgrade to become friends. We went to the Wolsley, a gorgeous restaurant that used to be a car showroom. Richard had a cappuccino, Lena and I had caffe mocha, all of them with a heart drawn in the foam. Lena got a basket of bread (which she shared, the dear), Richard had Greek yogurt with bananas, I had the carmelized pink grapefruit. Lena told a funny story about going to Champagne on a business trip, and there was Champagne coming out of the tap! Adorable, sweet, warm, wonderful woman.
We went across the street to Boots, which is the Duane Reade/CVS of London. Richard bought some moisturizer and something else I don’t remember, he feels like his skin gets dried out in England. We walked around a while longer and took the tube to Patrick’s Lau’s. Richard and Patrick became friends when he lived in London, I hadn’t met him before, it was such a treat. He lives in one of the most beautiful living spaces I’ve ever been in in my life, a loft apartment that was torn apart and redone by an architect friend of his. Coolest of all, there’s a long row of bookshelves in his dining area with a door in the middle of it - - the door goes to his bedroom. So cool! The whole place was a masterpiece of inventive use of space and gorgeous streamlined design. And the office turns into a guest bedroom, with the bed coming out of the wall, Murphy-style.
We started with a Proseco toast. Lunch was steamed asparagus, lox, arugula, and padrone peppers sautéed in a little oil with pine nuts and sliced garlic. Everything was so delicious. Richard and Patrick had white wine with lunch, I had a glass of sparkling apple juice.
Patrick is a director for the BBC, and he told a funny story about doing *The Scarlett Pimpernel* with Elizabeth McGovern as Marie Antoinette. They were about to shoot the scene where she’s being led to her execution. He had coached the crowd to be seething. She turned to Patrick before they started rolling, and she said, in her breathy American movie star voice, “Why don’t they like me?”
Lots of other dishy stories about everyone on *Downton Abbey*, which he doesn’t like at all, he calls it a “soap opera in corsets”. I can see his point. He’s going to Toronto in three months to teach a course in film production to actors and dancers. He’s going to start the course by showing them the three-minute clip of Cary Grant arriving in the field in *North by Northwest*, ending with the plane chasing him. It’s a lesson in film as a visual medium, composition of the frame, economy of dialogue, pacing of the action, and in this case, the building of tension without using music. I want to take this class!
Back to the hotel. Richard took a short nap, I wrote in my journal. We had dinner that night with Nick Godley. Nick is a friend of Richard’s from the hotel business, I met when he was in New York this spring, he’s a laugh riot. We went to a funky little restaurant called Maggie Jones, named after Princess Margaret (Armstrong-Jones).
We had a terribly pretty young waiter - - Richard thought he might be Egyptian, I thought he might be Natalie Portman’s little brother. Richard had mushroom soup as a starter, Nick had the venison paté, I had the leek tart, which was the highlight of the whole meal. Main course: Richard and Nick had the calf’s liver with bacon and onion, I had the stuffed pork shoulder with applesauce. The pork was rather fatty, which was kind of a treat while it was piping hot, but less of a treat when it cooled off. And it wasn’t really stuffed, it had the stuffing laying on top of it. I had the bread pudding for dessert, which was swimming in crème anglaise.
The conversation at dinner made our randy and rancid brunch conversation from the Anthonys’ sound dowdy and G-rated. Nick told us a sweet story about a Dutch couple he met over twenty years ago, and the three of them are hooking up again in a few weeks for the first time in years.
Richard describes Maggie Jones as “a real firetrap”. The ceiling of the restaurant is hung with wicker baskets filled with dried flowers. There are tables on the ground floor, on the floor above, and in the basement, all connected by a set of narrow wonky wooden stairs. The floors and booths are all made of wood, naturally, and are laid out in a cozy yet labyrinthine arrangement. There are a number of lit candles strewn about in an artful manner. And the wait staff, while good looking and well built, does not give the impression of being particularly helpful in a time of crisis.