The Perfect Night Out – Boris, are 24 hour tubes what you really want?

It all began so well; such promise. London is a vibrant, energetic city and it was drawing its last warming breaths before the onset of winter on a glorious, balmy, late summer evening as I walked across St James Park.

I mean blimey; it is the middle of October, and before you ask I reiterate, I am not following the GoSober edict.

I wander up onto Piccadilly, and climb into the XK120, picture of Margaret (Thatcher) on the dashboard and I gun it towards Green Park, reaching 140mph before a gentleman in a high–visibility jacket steps into the middle of the highway to wave me over.

Autograph hunters are everywhere these days and now, I’m going to be late to get to BAFTA.

Not happy with a signature, I have to walk along an imaginary line in the yellow brick road, dissatisfied; he asks me to cross his palm with silver and then makes me blow into a bag. The last thing I want is for this sample to turn up on ebay. My genes are a rare and precious thing and I’ve been saving myself for Maggie, well I was; until that night with entire Kardashian family. Since then it has been a never ending spiral into debauchery; me the Third Duke of Wimbourn, alone at 3 am in the Victoria Secret shop on Bond Street, with my reputation for Lycra!

Clearly that was after Peter Bradshaw, after Alan Clarke.

Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher

Anyway I put that in to inject a little heroine, I mean humour into the piece.

I was going to BAFTA for dinner and a film. The evening was hosted by Rankin the fashion photographer. BAFTA has a large cinema tucked away at the back of Piccadilly. Rankin gave a very touching speech before the film, and we settled down to watch Cinema Paradiso. It is a lovely, sentimental film, a snapshot of life in Sicily, one of my favourites as it seemed to be for nearly everyone else there.

This was followed by an Italian themed dinner produced by Anton the marvellous BAFTA chef.

The tables were a free for all and by chance I sat next to a cycling dentist from Pimlico. No, he doesn’t tie a length of string to a loose tooth and cycle away. London is such a small city. We chatted for ages about bicycles; he also took part in the Prudential ride, and he too has eventually dried out.

Dinner ended with a Limoncello…….. Shouldn’t it always?

Clearly the night was young, so Dr T and I wandered to share a glass of wine with Vash. He really is such a great host. The wine flowed and then hen party in one of the alcoves started an impromptu karaoke……

I took this as a sign to leave and try to an order a taxi. Addison Lee, no joy; Uber, surge pricing; Black cabs, nowhere to be seen. The decision was made, could we make the last tube? We head for Leicester Square, it’s now 00.30, and the last train is imminent. Down the escalator to the platform, fingers crossed; the sign says Cockfosters 3 minutes.

Those of you who regularly use the tube late at night will know the dread of reading this. Will you, or will you not fall asleep and wake at Cockfosters. I remember a friend telling me that he had fallen asleep, drunk on the tube home one night only to be woken by someone rhythmically and violently kicking him in the shins.

He woke with a jolt to see, not Vinnie Jones, but his wife standing over him, berating him about the embarrassment of finding him in this state in front of a group of total strangers. I think a better revenge would have been to tie his shoelaces together and light the blue touch paper.

Sorry, this is turning into a bit of a shaggy dog story, and with our mayor looking as he does; he now enters stage right. Boris steps out from behind the curtain; dressed as Ulysees, Dave Cameron’s Ghost of Christmas Future and he’s in bed with Bob Crachit and the turkey!

BJ has muted the fact that the tube should run 24 hours, in order that we will no longer wake up in Cockfosters or Epping, Upminster or Uxbridge and not be able to catch the next tube home.

Last night we alighted at Caledonian Road, where there is a lift to take us to the surface.

About 15 of us formed an orderly queue, and we entered the lift with a member of TFL staff who was clearing the platform of stragglers, and so began the slow ascent to the summit.

After a few moments the vertical motion stopped in a way that made you think, that this is not a pause created by Harold ………..Pinter.

The poor chap from TFL, was this his worst nightmare? He knew the lift was going nowhere, and slowly one by one we turned and looked at him.

Armed with a walkie-talkie, he began to contact Houston. Well OK, not Houston, someone upstairs, no not that far upstairs, we hadn’t got violent; yet!

Houston replied that there was a problem with the power and engineers would need to be called.

Step by step, we all became aware that we were going to be here for a very long time.

It was now 00.45. There was no mobile signal unless you stood right next to the door, turned around three times, stood on tiptoe and held you phone as high as possible in the top left hand corner. See photo below.

The lift engineers were summoned, from who knows where? We had no ETA, and the temperature began to rise, thoughts of the movie ‘Devil’ started to enter everyone’s mind.

Fortunately we were a jolly bunch, no-one seemed to be suffering from claustrophobia, there was only one poor guy who had done too much whatever, and was sitting rocking gently in a corner.

We kept expecting Boris to make a famous Zip Line entrance, but as time progressed and we got to know each other, it became clear that everyone was quite normal, apart from me. There was a whip round to see what supplies we had between us. A bottle of beer, a bottle of wine, a couple of bottles of water, a large of slice of plum cake, e-cigarette and a jar of Nutella!

This was likely to only last about 10 minutes.

I was beginning to hallucinate that I was Steve Tyler, and we were headed for Love in an Elevator, “Good Morning Mr Tyler, going down?” and that was my kind of elevator music.

Now an hour in and the mood was good. Houston still couldn’t tell us when engineers from the International Space Station would arrive to assist in our teleportation from our predicament, and to this point nobody had mentioned football. The Nutella had done the rounds, but it was only a small jar.

One of the guys had managed to get a tweet out, and thankfully nothing worse than that. It was now really hot and the ventilation was failing.

Just as the topic of conversation turned to football, someone with a large handle started to crank the lift down. It took a while but we reached the bottom of the shaft, however we were not free yet. No sooner had we touched bottom than we slowly started to rise once again, as if on some slow motion bungee chord. Would there be enough spring on it to get us back to the top?

Slowly out of the window in the lift, I thought I could see earth, the continents, oceans, cloud systems, the door burst open and we were confronted by TFL staff, engineers, firemen and paramedics.

We had been trapped for 1hour 47 minutes; longer than some, not as long as others, psychologically unaffected by the experience.

So my word of warning to Boris is, sort the systems out.

This was an appallingly slow reaction to a situation, which although not an emergency and didn’t involve injury or a large degree of stress, was unpleasant and poorly handled.

24 hour tube service? Only if it works 24 hours.

The Lift Crew

The Lift Crew

On a lighter note, Jake will be Elfing himself this Christmas, will you? Get the App.


Copyright © 2014 Adrian Holdsworth. All Rights Reserved.

October 2011 – Volpe Newsletter


Yes, a little Halloween humour, and as you know the newsletter is more trick than treat

And tomorrow is my birthday. Yes, All Saints Day and 21 again.

No wise cracks please.

I had hoped that writing the newsletter would have cured me of my insomnia, but the worry of trying to be amusing month after month is taking its toll, keeping me awake night after night, also worrying where my new ipad2 is. The original ipad has no space left for Apps, and why is it the App I want is always on page 83 of my screens?

One morning  after my workout with OT, I returned to the shop to find the door unlocked and the lights on. Most days I go into the shop early, just to switch a few things on and check emails, just in case any of you are up that early, before I head off for breakfast or the gym. But I never leave the lights on and the door unlocked. As I peered in through the door I could make out Jake’s unshaven features. He had arrived very early, 9am, and was waiting to take delivery of his iphone 4S. If this is what it takes to get him out of bed in the mornings, it is going to be a very expensive process. The waiting was finally rewarded the phone was delivered at 3.17pm. However the worst part of it? He has a Wolves shiny gold case (looking slightly duller as each result rolls in – Jake wrote this bit, so don’t complain that I’m giving him a hard time).

And he now only appears concerned with the number of sleeps until Christmas. Does this mean he doesn’t intend to sleep after Christmas?

At breakfast the other morning, Jason at The Wolseley was sharing a little gossip regarding him and Shirley, she is delightful. Don’t I sound like Michael Winner? The day before they had been out to check on the competition, well you know how it is when the day lasts a little longer than it should, but I really think you both are a bad influence on each other and only have each other to blame. I will say no more!

I have also seen Adam’s Ann (Break into a chorus of Prince Charming, Prince Charming) from Cuckoo’s Knob, and what a pleasure it was too. Oh, never mind, am I the only one who remembers the eighties? But it looks like I’m showing my age. Ann appears to be well on the mend, apart from the dizzy spells, and suddenly I am reminded of Friday.

For the mathematicians amongst you, I have been going to a Wine Bar in Leicester Square on and off for about 30 years. I have seen all the managers drunk, and they may have seen me occasionally worse for wear, but Vash the current manager is one of my best friends and I would like to take this opportunity to wish him a Happy Birthday, and he can have Saturday morning’s hangover back. Don, the previous owner of this fine establishment always espoused that life was too short to drink bad wine. Quantity, never quality was always going to be my downfall.

Last week I was back in Rome. Life is hard I hear you say in unison, but the highlight was hopping on a train to Bologna, so I didn’t have to fly back from Fumicino. After visiting a supplier, I had just enough time to visit a chocolate shop called Roccati before returning. Quite excellent chocolate made on the premises and you can see them making it. Apparently Dear Silvio loves it in here, but then you know the old expression about being made out of chocolate. Eeewwwww. Banish the thought Silvio.  I always spend far too much money, but I think once every six months is OK.

The clocks have gone back….. For heaven’s sake, Ann has just sent me an email. Will I never get this newsletter finished? I thought the extra hour would give me more time, but I can see I’m going to have to head for the International Date Line, in order to create myself a few extra hours. The International Date Line is not what some of you might think, it is not some chat line to arrange some sort of Bunga Bunga party. What do you take me for?

And as for the passing of Jimmy Saville, when will somebody say what they really think?


Copyright © 2011 Adrian Holdsworth. All Rights Reserved.