Sunday Lunch with Hope

Last week invited Hope to join me yesterday for one of Mrs Kaczka’s renowned Sunday roasts. I have eaten roast diners in many respected and very fine establishments, but I have yet to find any that can compare to Mrs Kaczka’s. That woman is a venerable wizard in the kitchen, turning her hand to almost any kind of food with seemingly magical ease. Even Dorothy, who is herself a very good cook and makes the most wonderful Italian dishes, cannot compete when it comes to the traditional Sunday Roast. It may be a simple meal, but I believe that is part of its charm. Many places I visit try to make something special out of it, adding unnecessary frills and tastes, whereas Mrs Kaczka keeps to traditional recipes. For a Polish lady, she has an amazing grasp of traditional English cooking.

The main purpose behind my invitation to lunch was not to show off my housekeeper’s venerable culinary talents, prodigious as they are, but to ensure that, for once, I could count on having her undivided attention in a relaxed atmosphere. You see, I have been in a bit of a quandary over Hope in recent weeks. On one hand, we have a very good friendship, one I have come to appreciate and depend on a great deal and I would not want to spoil it in any way. On the other hand, I can’t help wondering if our relationship might not be heading for something a little more intimate. Dorothy and Aunt Murdock both seem to think that there is something more, but I am not exactly the most experienced chap when it comes to things like that. I am honest enough with myself to admit I am actually quite shy when it comes to the ladies and have never been very good at understanding my own feelings, let alone those of others. So I had hoped that a quiet leam, at home, with just the two of us might help me to find out Hope’s feelings on this particular subject. Exactly how I would achieve this, I had no idea.

Dorothy and Angela were to be out for the day and I was not expecting any other visitors, so everything was set up nicely for Hope’s arrival at 1 o’clock. But, as with all my plans so far this year, it did not work out quite as I expected.

I should have realised things were going slightly off course when Mrs Kaczka came running up to me a little after midday to say that all the power had gone off in the kitchen. Now, I will be the first to admit that dealing with crises involving domestic energy supplies is not one of my particular skills. Although I had a pretty good idea that we could rectify the problem by doing something with the fuses, I had no idea of either where the fuses were, or what I would do if I found them. Arthur always deals with that sort of thing and he was not there. I tried to telephone him but presume he was out with his family as I could not get a reply. At that point, all I could think to do was to call an electrician, but again, Arthur would normally have dealt with that so I had no idea who to contact. With no immediate solution to the power problem, which did seem to be isolated to the ground floor, my next thought was about the lunch itself. Should I try to book a table somewhere so that Hope and I would at least get something to eat and a chance to chat or should I postpone our date until another time?

In the end, I did neither, deciding instead to telephone Hope and see what she thought, which turned out to be the best decision I had made so far that morning. Not only did she calmly undertake to arrange an electrician to visit, she also announced that she would be there very soon and would bring a little something with her. I was so relieved we would still get our afternoon together that I never thought to ask what the “little something” might be.

Once this had been arranged I felt there was little point in Mrs Kaczka staying any longer as it was obvious to me that she would not be doing any further cooking. So I told her that once she had cleared up she could go home as I returned to my study to wait for Hope to arrive.

A little before 1 o’clock the doorbell rang but instead of greeting Hope at the door, who should be stood there looking for all the world like he had slept in a hedge for a week but my old chum Dasher. He had that look on his face I had last seen when Dorchester told me that Annabelle, his American girlfriend, had left him. Now, I knew Dasher didn’t have a current inamorata so I was rather taken aback when he announced, there and then, on my doorstep, that he was heartbroken, he had been rejected by the love of his life and could never love again! Of course, I had to invite the poor chap inside, even though it was actually the last thing I wanted to do. Once I had managed to steer him into the study and poured a shot of brandy down him, my thoughts returned to Hope, how it was beginning to look like my plans had completely fallen apart, and through no fault of my own.

Dasher explained to me that he had met a certain young lady at one of the casino’s he regularly visits a couple of weeks ago and they had formed an intimate bond almost immediately. When I asked why he had not mentioned her on any of our recent meetings, he said that she had asked to keep their relationship a secret for the time being. Being totally besotted as he obviously was, he did not think to question the lady’s motives for this and had proceeded to fall head over heels. Everything seemed to be going well until last night when, out with friends at a party somewhere in the West End, he saw his new paramour on the arms of another man. Well, to cut a long story short, it seems that his new love was married. Dasher was just a fling for her, hence her desire to keep the whole thing a secret. It a sounded very sordid, more like a bad film plot or one of those books women read on trains than real life. I felt really sorry for the poor chap, but what could I do to help? Hope was due any minute, the electrician would be there at some point and Dorothy wasn’t around to come to my rescue – she would know exactly what to do and say in this kind of situation.

Well, as I am sure you can imagine, after all of this the afternoon was not the one I had planned. Hope arrived just ahead of the electrician a little after quarter past one. The power problem was repaired in no time at all. Apparently, all we had needed to do was “trip the switch” – whatever that means. So we now had power back.

Hope’s “little something” turned out to be a sort of picnic. She had been quite confident that the power issue would be resolved so she had brought with her a couple of prepared meals that she had already made for Charlotte. She had planned to heat up in the microwave but I don’t have one, or if I do we couldn’t find it, so she had to use the oven instead. This actually gave us a little time to see if we could sort out Dasher and, hopefully, send him on his way. But, like everything else at the moment, that was a forlorn hope and it began to look like Dasher was going to be with us for the rest of the afternoon. Hope was actually really good with him. She seemed to know all the right things to say and I think that having a woman talking to him seemed to help. The silver lining came when she suggested he go upstairs and try to get a little sleep. He readily agreed to this, leaving Hope and me to enjoy the meals she had prepared. The food itself was very tasty, but Charlotte is a vegetarian, so it was not what I am used to at all. That said though, I found the flavours very interesting, although I could not tell you what my meal actually was.

Despite everything, we had a jolly good afternoon together. We talked about our friends and our lives, about our ambitions and hopes for the future. As always I was captivated by her smile and the way her face seemed to light up when she laughed. I have always found Hope very easy to talk to and found myself opening up more than I had planned to about my problems with my father, my love for my mother, and my anxieties about taking over the family business from my Aunt Murdock. Of course, Hope knows the old Mad Duck very well, so knows of her recent illness and is as worried as I am about her general state of health. Hope was equally as candid about her relationships with her late husband and her two daughters. I think she has coped amazingly well with the loss and becoming a single mother. Obviously, Emily has her own life to lead, but Charlotte was heartbroken by her father’s sudden death and has struggled to come to terms with it. I have to say that in all my dealings with Charlotte I have found her to be a very strong and determined young lady.

By the time Dasher rejoined us a little after 5 o’clock I have to admit that I had quite forgotten he was there. He was full of apologies for gatecrashing our afternoon and for being such a mess. Of course, we both said there was nothing to apologise for and Hope even busied herself in the kitchen preparing the poor chap something to eat. In the end, the three of us stayed in the lounge and chatted about all kinds of things, but avoiding any mention of relationships, girlfriends or anything else we thought might upset him.

Dasher eventually left about eight, Hope shortly after. This was not the afternoon I had planned but I suppose, the way things have gone lately it was probably the best I could hope for. At least we had had a couple of hours to chat and relax which I am very pleased about. Whether or not I understand our relationship any better I simply could not say, but I do know Hope much better than I did.

I had thought I might pop down to the Club, but decided against it. I had had quite a busy day and decided that the best thing to do was to relax with a single malt.

Guns, Valentine’s and Sunday Lunch!

Yesterday evening at the Club the conversation was all about one thing – the dreadful shooting in America that left so many young people dead or injured. I know that a lot has already been said and written about this appaling incident, so I am not going to add much more to the debate, except to say that even those of the chaps who own and regularly shoot guns think that something needs to be done to end all this pointless waste of life.

The gun totting side of the debate will undoubtedly continue to claim their right to bear arms is enshrined in the constitution, but what about the innocents that find themselves the targets of these madmen and cowards? What of their right to freedom from the fear of being shot on the way to school?

And yes, I did say cowards. It is hardly the act of a brave man to open fire on unarmed members of the public. And it seems that the perpetrator of this latest outrage was a very troubled soul, the last person in the world who should have been in possession of weapons of any kind. Of course, if these poor students had been brought down by anything other than bullets there would be immediate calls for either the cause to be outlawed, any faults corrected or for tighter restrictions. But we all know that so long as the damage is inflicted by the seemingly sacred gun.

As I said, the chaps at the Club were unanimous in their condemnation of a regime that continues to condone such mindless slaughter in the name of the object they revere above all others.

Talk at the bar meandered around for a little before finally settling on thoughts of the other big event of the week – Valentine’s Day. On this particular subject, there was anything but unanimity. Some of the younger chaps were all in favour of the modern approach of wining and dining the young ladies, along with an abundance of flowers and far too much chocolate. One or two of the married gentlemen admitted that they had forgotten all about it and their better halves had given them hell over it.

The main problem I have with Valentine’s Day is the expectation that there is something special about the day, which, of course, there isn’t. Far too much is made of the whole thing in my view. And I was pleased to discover that a good few of my drinking chums feel the same way. I have never sent flowers to anyone on Valentine’s Day and I am not going to start now.

This afternoon I made a quick call to Hope at her gallery and she has agreed to join me for Sunday lunch here at chez Dimbelby. Hopefully, this will give us a real opportunity to chat. I am still concerned about how things went with Emily and I am hoping that some light can be shed on the matter. I am also popping down to the country on Monday and I wanted to see her before I left. In fact, I am considering arranging a visit for my birthday in April and may invite Hope and Charlotte to join me. Dorothy thinks I should arrange some kind of party, but I am not sure and anyway, it is probably getting a little late to organise something like that. I will ask hope what she thinks over our Sunday lunch.

Nigel called around a little earlier this evening, but he didn’t stay for long. I have not seen a great deal of him recently. It seems his new business venture is taking up a lot of his time. That and his romance with my Aunt Sarah. He seems to think I don’t know about it, but I believe that it is one of the worst-kept secrets in the family at the moment. I wish he would just come out and announce that they are a couple, then we could all relax around them and celebrate their relationship. I do not understand why he can’t just be honest with me. Maybe he will in bis own time.

Lunch with a bitter taste

It’s strange how life has a way of turning sour just when one believes that things are looking sweet.

I received a telephone call from Hope last night asking if I would like to join her, Charlotte and Emily for lunch today. Of course, I was only too delighted to accept the invitation, particularly as it would be the first opportunity I have had to meet Emily. I had heard a few things about her, some of it a little frightening if the truth be known, so I was really looking forward to getting to know her.

We agreed that I would meet them at the bistro Hope had chosen, a little place I had been to myself not very long ago. It is one of those places with an open grill in the centre of the restaurant where they prepare the food. On the previous occasion, I was with some of the chaps from the Club and one or two of them caused some trouble after drinking a little too much of the very fine Beaujolais. It all started when that buffoon Richards took a shine to a particular young lady at the table beside ours. It was obvious to everyone except him that she was not interested, but that has never stopped him before. Well, he became more insistent, she and her companions got very angry and in the end, I had to manhandle the man out of the building and into a taxi. It was all rather embarrassing so I was pleased to have an opportunity to pay a return visit in what I hoped would be less troublesome circumstances.

The way things have gone so far this year I suppose I should know better than to expect a silver lining. It would seem that for every ray of sunshine there have been at least two dark clouds rushing in to blot it out.

I left home early but thanks to some unexpected congestion and the almost obligatory roadworks I arrived almost ten minutes late. Now most people who know me will attest to the fact that I can be very relaxed about most things, but one thing I do expect from myself and others is punctuality, particularly as I was hoping to make a good impression. I spotted the girls as soon as I walked through the door, seated at a table close to the grill area. I have to say that I was a little surprised at first as I did not recognise Charlotte at all. It has only been a few days since I last saw her but in that time she has coloured her hair. Where she previously sported wavy auburn locks she now had straight, bright red hair. I have seen this type of thing many times before but had not expected young Charlotte to follow in that particular fashion. I am pleased to say that Hope had not undergone any such transformation and was looking her usual bright and cheerful self.

As I approached the table Hope rose to greet me and introduced me to Emily.

My first impression was one of surprise. I had expected Hope’s eldest daughter to look at least a little like her (in the way Charlotte did, sans red hair!), but I could see no resemblance whatsoever. Where Hope and Charlotte are relatively short and dark with what my mother would have described as cherubic features, Emily was very tall and slim with short blonde hair. And where Hope and Charlotte kept makeup and jewellery to a minimum, Emily looked a little like a walking advertisement for a cosmetics retailer. Several things struck me at once as she introduced herself; the first being that the smile on her lips did not seem to reach her eyes which seemed rather preoccupied with sizing me up. She is also much taller than her mother or sister. I do vaguely remember her father and although I could not state categorically that she was very like him, by my recollection he certainly had that Arian look that Emily seemed to favour.

Once the introductions were over and I had taken my seat beside Hope, we went through the usual routine of discussing the options on the menu and comparing previous meals at similar locations. I repeated the tale of my previous visit to this particular establishment which I was pleased to see Hope and Charlotte found amusing, but Emily did not. Where I had hoped the story might provide a lighthearted opener to our lunchtime conversation, Emily wanted to pick at the events to discover more about my companion and the young lady. I had been told that she could be a little serious, but I had not expected her to miss the point of my little tale so completely. I decided at that point that I needed to be a little more wary about the things I said.

But of course, once the wine and food arrived, and I began to relax, I dropped my guard. Now I am not saying that I set out to deliberately antagonise her, but I found that she took offence at almost everything I had to say, particularly when it came to politics and the law. I am not saying that I am particularly well versed in either discipline, but like most people, I have my own opinions on the state of the country and the world at large and I am used to being able to express these views at the Club without fear of too much contradiction or hostility. Emily however, seemed in no mood to listen to anything I had to say. This is not to say we were arguing as such; rather, she had a way of putting down any opinion I wished to express with a look or seemingly mild reproach that by the time we had come to the end of the main course I was feeling rather like a naughty child being constantly chastised by an angry parent. Hope did try several times to move the conversation on, but with little success. At one point Charlotte seemed to get quite angry with her sister over some remark she made.

As we finished our desserts Hope asked if I would like to join them for coffee at home, but I decided that under the circumstances it was best to decline the offer. It was obvious that Emily has some kind of issue with me but I cannot for the life of me understand what I may have said or done to make her behave the way she did. I think that under the circumstances I was extremely restrained.

I really could not have imagined two more different young ladies than Charlotte and Emily. One would have thought that being some kind of Human Rights specialist she would be a compassionate and understanding person, but what I saw today was an angry and confrontational one. I like to think of myself as a fairly easy going sort of chap, but even I found it very difficult to find common ground with young Emily. I understand that she will be at her mother’s until Sunday so I will wait until next week to try to speak to Hope again to reschedule our evening date. I just hope that the events of today haven’t spoilt anything.

In the meantime, this evening I am going to join my old chum Cambridge for a few drinks at his club. I don’t go there very often – it’s my father’s old club and I find the place a little too quiet and solemn most of the time. It will just be a light dinner for me, but I am looking forward to tasting some the excellent new vintages that Cambridge has told me about.

No better place to be

I was delighted when Anne accepted my invitation to stay with me while she is in London this week. It may seem rather odd to invite her here as I haven’t known her very long, but we really do get on so well. Her trip is a mix of business and pleasure: she is meeting a couple of potential clients for her interior design business and also doing some Christmas shopping. She has also spent the last two evenings at the theatre which is something she loves to do apparently. I suppose if you are a fan of the theatre then there is no better place to be than in London.

What with her meetings, shopping and theatre trips we haven’t had much opportunity to spend much time together, which is fine. I have had a rather busy week myself what with extra time spent at the office and preparing for the Christmas holidays. December is one of those months that seem to fly by with far too little time to accomplish everything one sets out to do.

She has been in town since Tuesday and today we managed to fit in a very pleasant lunch together. We met at a lovely little bistro I know on the Strand, close to the Savoy. It is one of the few that prides itself on its traditional British fayre. One can dine on cuisine from all corners of the globe in London. There is no shortage of Japanese, Mexican, Italian or Indian, but trying to find good quality British food is harder than one might think. As it was, I enjoyed a perfectly prepared Fillet Steak, washed down with a particularly smooth Shiraz, while Anne settled for the Dover Sole and a glass of Chablis.

From what she told me her new business is doing exceptionally well. She has managed to secure two very prestigious contracts this week and says she now has almost too much work which is remarkably good in this difficult economic climate. I keep hearing people talk about austerity and a stagnant economy but I must say that from my point of, things have never been better. I know that we have had to make some changes in the business with regards to staffing, all very regrettable, but as things stand at the moment we seem to be doing rather well. Anne is very happy with the way things are going at the present time, with both her business and her private life being on the up, as it were.

We had just left the restaurant and were striding down the Strand when who should we bump into but young Charlotte. I have to admit that I didn’t recognise her at first as she was so well wrapped up against the cold. I introduced Anne but it seems they had already met when Anne had visited Hope’s gallery a few weeks ago. I asked Charlotte if she wanted to join us for drinks, but she declined saying she had a previous engagement. It was a shame as I do enjoy Charlotte’s company, she is such a pleasant and lively young woman.

Anne is out this evening meeting with friends and will be returning home tomorrow morning. I had thought she might have stayed over the weekend but it seems she has work to do and people to see. I suppose that is the price one has to pay for being a successful entrepreneur.

I am off to the Club now for a light supper and a drink or four with Dorchester. His girlfriend has not returned from America yet and I think he is becoming a little worried. He has spoken to her but apparently, she has been a little evasive and noncommittal. reading between the lines I believe Dorchester to be a little worried about their relationship. I expect this evening will be one spent trying to bolster the poor chap’s flagging self-esteem. I do not relish the role of Agony Uncle, but he is one of my oldest friends so I will do what I can to reassure him.

I think I am in trouble now

Argh! I think I am in trouble now!

At all started so well. This morning I went into the office for a meeting with some manager or other. I wasn’t entirely certain was he was the manager of, and after speaking to him for almost an hour, I am still none the wiser. I know it had something to do with logistics, but he lost me about 5 minutes in and I never managed to re-engage with him. He was so enthusiastic about his department and his job, I didn’t have the heart to tell him I had no idea what he was wittering on about.

Anyway, as soon as the meeting was over I decided to take Miss Drayton out for lunch. Now, Miss Drayton has been my secretary for about two years, but as I have only been to the office very infrequently over that time I haven’t got to know her very well. So, I decided that today was as good a day as any to take her for a spot of lunch and to find out a little more about her and her understanding of the business.

There is actually a very acceptable little bistro not far from the office. It is one of those places that looks very modern but is actually very quaint and serves a more traditional English menu. It is often frequented by staff from the office and is a regular lunchtime venue for my Aunt Murdock. It is usually very busy but luckily there was a table for two available close to the bar. Miss Drayton seemed a little nervous about being there at first, but I ordered a very palatable Chablis and she soon relaxed.

As we enjoyed our drinks, Laura, as she insisted I called her, told me a little about her work experiences and her personal life. I was not prying, I was just curious. After all, she is my right-hand man at the office and I felt it only right that I should know more about her and what makes her tick. And I must say that I was very impressed on hearing about her career so far but very surprised to learn that she does not have a boyfriend. She is a very attractive woman and still quite young I think. I have to admit that I don’t actually know her age; it is very impolite to ask a lady that kind of thing. My best guess is that she is about 30, give or take 5 years or so.

Anyway, as we were just finishing our main course (we had both chosen the rather splendid sea bass that I have enjoyed there before) when who should walk into the bistro but my dear old Aunt Murdock. I was sitting facing the door so I saw her arrive over Miss Drayton’s shoulder. She didn’t see us at first and I watched her she was shown to a table close to the window. Once settled I made my way over to say hello. She was obviously pleased to see me and asked me to join her, but when I pointed out that I was there with Miss Drayton, her manner changed. I got the feeling that she didn’t approve. In fact, if I didn’t know better I would say that was actually quite angry.

I must say I was a little put out by my aunt’s reaction. After all, what can be more natural than a man taking his secretary for lunch? I know a few of the chaps at the Club do the same thing quite regularly, even treating their secretaries to trips away in some rather nice hotels. Mad Duck’s reaction was not what I would have expected. Anyone would have thought she had caught me in flagrante.

I returned to my table a little out of sorts but was soon cheered up by the prospect of ordering our dessert; a cheesecake for Miss Drayton, and a rather nice cheese selection for myself. At this point, I saw Aunt Murdock stand to greet someone who had just walked through the door. Well, you can imagine my surprise when I saw her step out to greet her sister-in-law, my Aunt Margaret. I haven’t seen Margaret for quite some time, and not since my recent reacquaintance with her old friend Hope. I was just about to excuse myself and walk over to speak to her when our desserts arrived, so I decided to wait until I had finished what was a very fine selection of cheeses. I am particularly partial to the Stilton, and their homemade chutney is one of the tastiest I know.

Once we had finished, Miss Drayton (I know she asked me to call her Laura, but one has to keep some degree of formality with one’s staff) left to return to the office and I made my way over to Aunt Murdock’s table. As they were eating their main course I was only able to offer the briefest of greetings before I was obliged to leave, but I was again surprised by my aunt’s very cold reception. Margaret’s “hello” was equally frosty.

On my return home I had a chat with Dorothy and told her about Aunt Murdock’s rather icy behaviour over lunch. I must say that I had rather hoped that she would be more supportive of me than she was. It seems that my taking Miss Drayton out to lunch was some kind of faux pas on my part. I can’t say I understand why; it was just a lunch to help me get to know her a little better. But apparently, being seen out with my young and rather attractive secretary goes against some unwritten social etiquette of which I was previously unaware. When I told her that many of the chaps at the Club did this kind of thing all the time, her reply was quite unladylike and certainly not something to repeat here.

Later this afternoon, I received a telephone call from Aunt Murdock which was pretty much a repeat of Dorothy’s dressing down. It seems that a number of people at the bistro also noticed me with Miss Drayton and have been making all kinds of assumptions about our relationship, particularly Aunt Margaret who she is in no doubt will say something similar to Hope.

Before ending the call, Aunt Murdock asked me about my arrangements for Cambridge’s charity function. I told her I had passed on the invitation to Hope, but for the second time today, I was met with an icy response – I could feel that look, even down the telephone wire. Apparently, I should have also made arrangements for taking Hope to the function itself; passing on the invitation wasn’t enough. I have to admit that this had not occurred to me, I just assumed she would meet me there. But according to my dear aunt, and Dorothy, who was listening to my side of the conversation from the study doorway, a gentleman is expected to transport his lady to an event to which they are invited.

It seems that my life is really not my own these days, but I suppose that the ladies know best about this kind of thing. I have agreed that I will call Hope tomorrow morning and make the necessary arrangements.

Hopefully, the news of my lunch with Miss Drayton and the subsequent misunderstanding about my motives will not have reached Hope before then. For now, I am going to get ready to go to the Club where I believe I can expect a more sympathetic ear.

 

All I got was wet!

Do you ever get the feeling that some things just aren’t meant to be?

Well, for the past week or so I have had to put up with both Aunt Murdock and Dorothy almost constantly going on at me about meeting up with Hope Greenwood again. And they are not the only ones who seem to have an interest in my friendship with her. But, despite all their insistence, and I must say some work on my part, it appears that the chances of any kind of romantic liaison are very slim indeed.

You see, I popped along to the gallery this afternoon – as we had arranged over the telephone – and I must say, it was a jolly difficult journey, what with the terrible weather. Despite my best efforts, by the time I arrived, I was rather wet through. In fact, I don’t think I have been so wet, with my clothes on, since the day I fell into uncle George’s garden pond back in 2002. We had been celebrating dear old Lizzie’s Golden jubilee with some very fine champagne and a selection of single malts, and it is possible that I may have had a little more than I should. During a particularly rowdy rendition of Rule Britania, myself and a couple of the chaps from the Club ventured a little too close to George’s new pond. Needless to say, dear old George wasn’t best pleased, and I think the newly transplanted fish were a little put out as well.

Anyway, as I walked through the door I could see Hope on the far side of the gallery talking to a young lady who I presumed was a client. I stood, dripping by the door for a few moments before Hope spotted me and, excusing herself, came over to greet me. I must admit that the whole greeting thing was a little awkward, not least because I was wet through and dripping all over her shiny floor. Unfortunately, our conversation was very brief as Hope had a meeting with the lady I had seen her talking to, so my plan for lunch had to be postponed again.

However, I did have an opportunity to pass on the invitation to Cambridge’s charity soiree, which she assures me she will be able to attend. Once that was agreed, I left the gallery and made my way back to the Club where I was able to dry off and enjoy a rather pleasant lunch. We have a new chef at the Club who is trying to introduce a wider range of dishes, some of which are proving to be very popular. I forget his name, but he is Italian apparently, which explains the sudden appearance of pasta and pizza on the luncheon menu.

If you haven’t heard, we have a new chef at the Club who is trying to introduce a wider range of dishes, some of which are proving to be very popular. I forget his name, but he is Italian apparently, which explains the sudden appearance of pasta and pizza on the luncheon menu. Now, I don’t have anything against the idea of extending the menu, but I personally have no intention of going continental. I have never been particularly fond of Italian wines, and I don’t suppose the food is much better. Don’t get me wrong, I am partial to a little pasta now and again, and have even had some very nice pizzas, but it is not the sort of food one expects to be eating at a respectable club. I see no reason to change things and will continue to eat the same foods I always have. Today I chose the Rack of Lamb, washed down with a very pleasant Spanish Rioja. If there is one thing you can always rely on at the Club, it is the quality of the wines on offer. Chefs may come and go, but the wine cellar is always stocked with the best.

So, it was not quite the day I had planned, but I have kept my promise to Dorothy and Aunt Murdock in as much as I have been to see Hope. Alright, she was too busy to come out to lunch with me, but she has accepted the invitation so I will definitely see her again soon.