Ned was (and still is I would imagine) a lawyer, very charming in the emails we exchanged. I can’t really remember how it all happened but we arranged to meet. It was one of those rare summer days we have where the sun is out and it’s just so very humid.
He wanted to take me to a restaurant in Covent Garden, Chez Gerard apparently. Ok sounds great! Randomly, we bumped into each other on the underground. Luckily he looked exactly like his picture. (You’d be surprised how many people look nothing like their profile picture!) So we start chatting as we walked up the stairs towards the lifts. So we’re standing there and we hear an announcement. … The lifts are temporarily not working due to a fire alarm … hmmmm, I guess we’re going to be waiting a while.
Next thing I know, Ned has suggested we take the stairs. Erm... Now, I have a question for all of you reading this, how many of you have actually taken the stairs in Covent Garden station instead of taking the lift? Those of you that have done it... YOU ARE CRAZY. For those of you that have never been to Covent Garden station or have been sane enough to avoid the stairs at all costs like myself, let me enlighten you. There is a sign at the bottom of the stairs that states and I quote ‘This stairwell has 193 steps. Do not use except in an emergency.’ Now that ladies and gentlemen is what is known as disclaimer…. I have never ever in my life been tempted to even look at those stairs let alone climb them.If there is no emergency I am not taking the stairs therefore I was quite happy to wait to see the actual burning flames touch my face before I considered it as per the notice...
But there I was being led by Ned up the dam stairs. It wasn’t bad… at first! It’s just one big winding stairwell. Then it got to a point where my legs thought, f*ck this for a laugh and they refused to go any further. I looked behind me and there was nothing but a winding staircase, I looked ahead and yup… same thing, we were trapped!! And to make matters even worse it was hot and sweaty. Ned, on the other hand, seemed to be having the time of his life. While I was considering faking some form of a heart attack so we can be rescued; he was suggesting that we take the stairs two at a time. Erm.. NO!
As if I wasn’t hot enough from climbing those bloody stairs, we get outside and the humidity slaps me in the face like POW!! Cue more sweat… great. Now we’re walking towards the restaurant and I’m gasping for breath but trying to act like I’m fine… I needed air! By the time we arrived I'd found a flyer in my bag to fan myself with and was just generally hot, sticky and sweaty. When we got inside I felt the sweat start to trickle down my back…. Oh yes, this was going so very well! Why was I standing in a restaurant that had no air? There was no air outside; there was no air inside… who had stolen all the frickin air?!!! The waitress informed us that their air conditioning was broken (Of course its bloody broken there’s an air thief around!)
By the time we were seated, I was sweating like a BITCH ON CRACK, no joke…. Meanwhile, Ned was questioning me about wine. Do I like red wine? Do I like white wine? These grapes from France, that grape from Italy… I kept nodding and frantically fanning in the hope that one day I would be able to stop sweating. I excused myself and went to the ladies to freshen up, I almost screamed when I saw my reflection, I was a mess to say the least.
When I got back to the table the wine had arrived. Now, not a lot of people, me included, know how to taste wine properly. I try and avoid being the person at the table that tastes the wine first, if I have to; I normally just take a sip smile and nod my head. And let’s be honest, most of us don’t know what we’re meant to taste anyway. But not Ned, I’ve never seen someone take so long to taste wine before. He picks up the glass, starts swooshing it around, takes a sniff, more swooshing, and lifts the glass up, back down again for another sniff... This whole routine went on for about 5minutes. Meanwhile the waiter is still standing there and I’m watching wondering if I’m meant to say or do something... Finally he tastes the wine and he says ‘It’s too warm’!!!!... Apparently, this wine was going to taste like butter due to the something something of the doodah something grapes... And funnily enough, once I got to taste this sacred liquid (only after being guided through all the swooshing and sniffing malarkey) it did actually taste like butter!