A bit of a blast of a week

Wow. That’s my first week finished back at work in two years. And what a week.

As you know, I’m now working at Dean Bank’s restaurant at the Pompadour in the Waldorf at the west end of Princes Street.

Is it fun? Yes. Is it a bit stressful? Yes. But that is the nature of the beast that is top notch hospitality. It’s a pretty high octane environment for sure. However, I’ve lucked out in meeting a very decent bunch of workmates to be honest. They are a class team and an extremely nice lot into the bargain.

It’s worked out pretty ok on the accommodation front too as our wee pad is around the corner. I’ve already got into a kind of daily routine which involves dropping out of bed at about 7, going to Greggs for the best deal in the world which is 3 slices of bacon in a roll and a coffee for £2.60. The coffee is seriously good with a rich crema and a fully rounded flavour which honestly begs the question of all the ‘artisan’ cafe’s around town which are now charging ridiculous prices for often lacklustre fayre.

Anyway I then troop into Starbucks so I can use their Wi-Fi and get my unlimited filter coffee (for £1.75) and a warm comfy seat. That’s not too shabby a deal either! My mate Al usually pops in and we have a good chin wag and put the world to right and talk horse form. I then pile up the road to Bruntsfield where I have my chat with Angus and Bob the butchers at WM Chiristie and Son. That’s always more than entertaining. They were intrigued as to how my first week went and we had a good crack about all that. The shop started getting a tad busy and on leaving I mentioned that I’d been given my p45 when I left the previous evening, except I said it in that sort of serious and dead panned way which stopped them a bit in their tracks. I maintained a serious face and they said ‘that means you’re sacked’ with a certain degree of concern for me which was rather sweet. I carried on the bluff though and said, ‘no, you always get given that at the end of your first week in a new job’. And they kind of looked at me with that expression of utter perplexity (with which a lot of people often look at me) as I sauntered out of the shop smiling and looking as earnest as earnest can be.

It should be a chuckle to see their expressions next week!

Anyway I then romped up the road to my old patch which is Morningside and then onto the Pentland Hills. Ah the Pentland Hills! I used to walk regularly up from Swanston Village to the top of Caerketten and was never fitter and healthier. It’s such an antidote to working in a cooked up restaurant and everything calms down and is seen in perspective. Even bad and nasty thoughts about mortgage brokers and risk assessors and Bertie Bojo and Meghan Sparkle and Sally Nugent.

But what a beautiful walk it is as well. I figure I can leave the West End at 10am walk up to the top of Caerketten and back, have a considerable chin wag with the butchers and get back to the West End easily by 2pm, a saner and better human being. And by the way that’s one blast of a walk and a talk. You just have to go into Wm Christie and Son in Bruntsfield to see what I mean. I mean to hear what I mean.

I plan to join the Spa at the Sheraton too, so I will be able to fall into a hot jacuzzi and steam room and then collapse back in the flat for a wee rest before my shift starts at 5.

It’s funny as I was given a tour of the place last week and we got up to the thermal suite and who walks out but Chris Turnbull, an ex-colleague at Ivory and Sime, way back in the days. Small old world what? I’m not at all sure what Chris does but he now seems to float around the West End and be a bit omnipresent, all said. I’ll bet he’s thinking that of me too though.

It’s Tuesday and we are now back in St Andrews for a few days. It’s so lovely to get back here too. Of course I’m a bit of a St Andrean now as well I suppose as I’ve been here for 7 years. What strikes you after being away for a bit is the purity of the air here. It’s the most marvellous thing and rarely talked about. A friend reckoned it gave his father 10 more years of life after moving up from London and I fully get that. He was seemingly housebound in London and then was able to get out for a walk each day up here.

Anyway, I think I shall now pop down to the St Andrews Golf Club and pick up the medal I won this year on the Old Course, which will be presented to our pet pig tonight, the ceremony being shown on my Instagram account. Of course I say ‘pet pig’ in the loosest possible sense. Adrian is ceramic but that’s not to say he’s not highly sensitive.

And then I might just pop around the corner to Dean’s new restaurant in Golf Place and see how they are progressing with the renovation work as they’re due to open on the 14th of December. He is going to kill it here. He is an amazing chef who worked with Rick Stein and oh what a location he has bagged at Golf Place!

STOP PRESS There is a God in heaven. We have just had a mortgage offer come through from the Royal Bank after going directly to them ourselves!

However big questions remain over how our ‘broker’ was not able to get us this though? and charged £240 for not getting us this. Maybe I should talk him through how we did it?

Hmm! That’s not exactly giving me any more confidence over my deep rooted suspicions about the financial services industry, which ironically appears as uncompetitive and inefficient as they come. I mean it’s a fact that 92 per cent of fund managers could do better by lobbing their money into a tracker fund and swan off to the golf course to spend their monstrous and ridiculous fees. But don’t get me started. From my time in the industry, I’ve seen invoices from a top hotel in Madeira where two investment trust directors and their wives would swank off to in order to perform quarterly board meetings (I presume the two directors partook in the meetings and their wives gave moral support, a bit like the Ryder Cup), while also indulging in some pretty high-end cuisine and wine by the looks of it!

Bloody joke.

But he ho, as it’s all seemingly about having a competitively free market, commoditization, specialization etc. Which I think roughly translates as a bit of a gravy train for the boys (indeed I remember clearly the investment director at Ivory and Sime telling me at interview that it was a licence to print money).

Blawks. As Philip Larkin was apt to say.

Fare forward passengers.

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