London Blast

A short visit to London with the objective of doing a recky on some pretty classy wine bars is not an unwelcome venture.

Alessandro and I travelled down on Friday and pitched up at Michael’s office just off Bond Street to be met by his most attractive assistant Andrea, who informed us that he was working but that she would take us first to some cafe’s.

This is an extremely trendy area where everyone looks eminently cool, sophisticated and basically loaded. Dairy products are fading fast and oatmilk and coconut milk are in by all accounts. Healthy eating is the name of the game here and if you’re not serving an avocado/spinach option on the breakfast menu then you’re going to be severely commercially challenged.

We eventually caught up with Michael and headed to Isabel Mayfair which is one of the swankiest joints in town, where you don’t want to look at the prices on the menu unless you fancy a wee cardiac. This place stinks of money and is the only establishment that I’ve been to where they have a smiling attendant to open a fantastically lit, granite laden toilette, smelling decidedly Yves Saint Laurent and really most opulent.

Mind you, when a glass of wine comes in at sixteen quid and a small plate of serrano ham hits you at twenty-eight you realize that the guy paying the rent bill is not dealing in minor sums.

Of course we rather lorded it. Michael is not the sort of guy to do things by halves and add to this a bit of Palermo panache and a nutter from Morningside then you have a rather brutal cocktail, if I may carry on using a metaphor in the fashion boisson.

Fortunately, Michael had to work next day so we didn’t go to excess. A pizza and a wee night cap in the bar of the Leonard Hotel climaxed a pretty fun evening where the three business partners had august, insightful thoughts on the Edinburgh bistrot venture, decided that life was pretty rum, or indeed 15 year old Glenlivet in Alessandro’s case.

Next morning we headed to Portobello Road where Mike sells his jewels and that sort of thing and we caught him looking rather worse for wear, went to a superb cafe called Gail’s where it’s all smiles, excellent gruyere, fresh bread and good coffee. To top it all and would you quite believe it? Temple of Heaven came in by a short head in the 4.20 at Newbury by slightly nudging out Well of Wisdom and so paid for the whole trip.

A complete winner.

I trust Leftbank will be like this. But not quite at these prices.

Seven thousandth swing change and on meeting Mr Usher

Had a fine day out in Edinburgh and the fortune to bump into Mr Stuart Usher who runs the Edinburgh Guided Tour company.

As well as being the most affable chap, he affirmed my thoughts about the Scottish Tour Blue Badge Guide thing and I felt rather satisfied that I had not bailed out 9 grand on a painfully intensive one year course. He has been going seven years now, has no qualifications, is fourth on Trip Adviser and is seemingly growing rather exponentially.

Yes, I suppose it’s a bit like the degree thing nowadays. Every Tom, Dick and Harry has one but is it what counts if you want to get on and do your own thing outside academia? Certainly my business partner could have gone to Uni but decided that he very much wanted to be his own man. And now very much is I may add.

Now what is going on in the world? It’s all a bit up in the air by the looks of things. The horrible thought is that we may now have to listen to Nigel Farage for the next few years. This is dangerous. The man is utterly unbearable. He’s almost on a par with Lyndsey Graham, Trumpy and that Roger Stone bloke.

It’s all utterly desperate and despicable and is enough to drive any sane man over the edge.

On the golf front I was rather glad Matt Wallace didn’t win the British Masters. No. I’m not a great fan of the man. I once sat down for lunch with him and he really had a struggle making eye contact with me.  A man who at times acted like a spoilt brat to his lovely caddie, Dave McNeilly, and has a serious temper issue when things don’t go his way. He is lucky that Dave McNeilly is a very decent bloke and has stuck by him.

My golf is nearly there. I surprised myself by hitting over the Swilcan Bridge from the back tee of the first on the Old. A bit of a silly shot in all honesty taking the driver, but I’m a fairly silly person.

My seventh thousand swing change is working swimmingly. It’s a much flatter and uncomplicated plane, inspired by a comment on the practice area by 31 handicapper, most excellent restaurateur, Alessandro Costa and validated by a tip-top butcher in Bruntsfield..

Isn’t life a strange old thing that I can get a top tip and insight from a relative novice to the game? Thank you Alessandro. And thank you as always Mr tip-top butcher.

Our bistrot is progressing well now. The new shop front is in and looks swell. It should now come together in the next few weeks. We are all heading for a weekend in London to look at a couple of Mayfair wine bars that Michael likes.

And I dare say we may even go into them. Not that Mike and Alessandro are massive imbibers, but it would be silly to travel all that way and not sample their wares.

And I’m sure the taxman will see this as a most necessary business expense.






Ding Junhui, Zhou Yuelong and de Gea have had a mare of a week

And I will tell you why.

Both Ding and Zhou led by 9-7 going into their final sessions of the World Snooker Championship and never thereafter won a single game.

David de Gea on the other hand, followed up lousy form in his two previous games, to make possibly the worst attempted save in professional football, in Man U’s game against Chelsea.

The snooker has been fascinating to watch though. It’s a remarkable game in that a whole match can change on the back of one marginally errant shot. The entire ebb and flow dramatically alters, energy is sapped, momentum lost and reversed. It’s basically curtains.

The most fascinating thing about football is the ongoing verbal garbage espoused upon the game. I mean Ole Solskjaer, the now not so enlightened Man United manager, kind of defended De Gea’s shocker by saying ‘it was just one of these things’.

No it wasn’t. It was a fundamental error which should never have occurred at this level of football. De Gea should have caught that very tame shot and never parried it. A stand-in, inebriated, second division, Sunday-league pub team goalie could have caught that ball. All day long.

I probably could have caught that ball.

Now America. What the hell?

Trumpy is now suing banks over issuing details of his financial interests. In fact he is suing all and sundry as far as I can see. What a charlatan he is. But I suppose this is how he made buckets of lucre in his business dealings and it’s the way the hideous man operates. The only problem is that he is running the country and some people expect transparency. Which is what his Attorney General Bill Barr says he’s all about, but isn’t in fact even willing to pitch up to a House Judiciary Committee meeting for questioning. What a complete load of bull.

But did we expect popular capitalism to end up any differently in a country like America? Or maybe America is just the inevitable climax of popular capitalism. A phoney, jumped up state, drunk on money and drugs and sex, run by a cheap and dodgy, chat show host billionaire who doesn’t give a flying fart for truth, decency or integrity.

And it seems the mass of the electorate may not either. So long as the Dow continues to climb and their taxes are getting cut.

It’s really all pretty awful.

But that’s enough of that stuff as there is only so much you can take of that smug faced and intensely irksome individual.

My golf is shocking by the way.

I played in the first round of the Freddie Tait last week against a one handicapper. The Freddie Tait is basically the prestigious scratch knockout tournament, open to every player in town.

I screamed a drive off the first of the New and acknowledged some degree of surprise from my opponent (he knew my handicap was 9), who may have then thought that he might have a match on his hands. However, this was immediately dispelled on the next shot when I missed the green from 30 yards. I got hammered 7 and 6.

Otherwise things are swell. The builders have put the new shop front in the bistrot, the floors are down next week and the furniture should be here in two.

So my life is going to change dramatically soon. No more swanning off to golf, shooting the crap in Taste, dreamy wee days in Edinburgh or harbouring idle thoughts about writing for the Oldie, day-long sipping Amarone and a fine life of leisure.

This is now getting serious.

And some may say it’s about time too.