We all look this happy when we’ve had one of Enrico’s dry Vodka Martinis with a twist at Duke’s Bar in St. James’. Christmas has got nothing to do with it. I don’t know ANYWHERE in London that makes such a good or strong cocktail. One can only have one and even that’s pushing it.
I was meeting a friend of a friend – new to London having lived in Italy for the previous so many years. As you do when you first meet another woman – any woman, you talk work, men, marriages, divorces, children, and life now when you know you’re not 25 anymore but you still feel it.
It was the kind of night you go to bed after with all your make-up on. Those nights are rare and possibly the skin care routine that has to follow should be billed to that notorious place which counts Ian Fleming as its most famous patron.
Half a glass down and the mists were beginning to form. I tried to stay with it. Julia started talking Italian to the chief bartender which resulted in us being invited behind the legendary bar itself for a momentous snap. Alessandro and Enrico remained calm, I wish I could say the same for the two of us.
“It’s just occurred to me. Why don’t you come to Italy for New Year? I’ve got my daughter’s house, it’s by the sea – we could have a lovely time.” A generous invite from someone you’ve only just met indeed.
Julia called our mutual friend Fabienne on the phone and handed it to me. “Fabienne, we’ve been invited to Genova for the New Year – isn’t that sweet?!” “Yes! I could pick you up from the airport after dropping the kids off!”
We hung up and chinked glasses. It was all looking very promising. A gentleman at the next table leaned over: “New Year in Italy?” “Come if you want!” exclaimed Jules. “Where do you live?” I asked. “Actually not too far away: Southern Switzerland.” “Perfect” I said. Julia let’s get his card and we can invite them. His wife looked on knowingly as she sipped her Tiger Tanaka.
“How are you getting home?” her husband asked. I giggled. “Really? You really want to know?” Julia and I carried on chatting and presently she settled the bill. “Are you going to be okay getting home?” Mr Switzerland asked again. “Of course!” I replied laughing.