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.

April 2012 – Volpe Newsletter

So just when I thought I would put pen to paper in the old fashioned way, the heavens opened, washed away my notes, in the dog ate my homework way. Then they opened again, and again. Oh, I’m fed up with this. First chance I get I’m off abroad. You know me, any excuse. These tired old bones are fed up with the drought, goodness it has to be monsoon season somewhere. At least I could squirrel away my millions in an offshore haven, where the negative interest alone would fund a small country.

Many of you have asked how we have survived the downturn. My answer is always to throw caution to the winds and buy, buy, buy. Those of you who have been persuaded to purchase the pink cashmere overcoats will know they were the must have item for this season, do you not read the fashion supplements? It’s all colour, colour, colour here. Even when the outlook is Prada, Prada, Prada. Apologies, black, black, black, you know this season Adrian will be mainly wearing, I’ll leave you to guess, but it will include a tan, and as yet I haven’t taken the stripper heels off. Nick (Sarkozy) likes the way they make my legs look. Teamed with lycra and lurex, and a splash of silicone, nobody would know me.

Anyway, dear Silvio continues to keep us entertained; really, nuns taking their clothes off, cliché, cliché, cliché. I had hoped he would have shown a little more imagination, perhaps an imp tossing competition, no not what you think, but how far could we throw M Sarkozy and the diminutive chap from Naples? Obviously I can get away with this joke, as I too am of restricted height. Well they say the grass is always greener; now, if I could just only I could see over the fence!

Perhaps those heels of mine will help, or I know: “Oi, Silvio! Can I sit on your shoulders?” On second thoughts, that won’t make any difference, so much for standing on the shoulders of giants!

The mayoral election will soon be upon us. Boris has been swearing (plus ca change), Kkken has been crying and Brian; well wasn’t he a snail in the Magic Roundabout? They are all equally impressive; goodness it’s going to be a tough choice. I shall think long and hard before doing my duty. Who knows someone must be capable of ticking all the boxes. Then thoughts turn to me, me and me……Hmmm next time perhaps?

One amongst you has spent 60 hours flying in the last 6 days, and for a change it wasn’t Sam. Do I hear any increase on this? Sunil this doesn’t mean you, or you Andre, your chosen professions preclude you from this game! And no Mark, not you either, you are still banned, and freebees are not allowed. One Saturday after drinking half a bottle of me best Napoleon, Mark explained where I was going wrong in life, and of course he was right, but then there weren’t 5 of us in the bed at the time. Who said that in these difficult times, hedonism was dead? Of course it’s not, it was just having a siesta.

Now, I like to think I have skin like a rhino, and a gsoh, unlike a couple of people who had scant regard for last month’s newsletter. Shame on you, you really should know better, but then you won’t because you haven’t got this months. I should explain, they are known as “jokes” and “anecdotes”, much of which I direct at myself, and as you have not done anything remotely amusing, obviously these were not directed at you. So you are barred and just in case you are reading someone else’s copy, you are still barred, even if your future does involve something that people may laugh at on Youtube. No, don’t go searching for it you won’t find it, because I haven’t used your real name.

And, no, I haven’t taken it personally, whatever would make you think that?

Joke of the week, or as it shall be known. “It made Jake laugh”.

Archaeologists digging in a pyramid in Egypt, have found a mummy covered in chocolate and hazelnuts. Experts believe it could be Pharaoh Rocher.

There was another we both laughed at, but it definitely wouldn’t make it through the spam filters. However, if you want to look it up, it involves steroids and a female body builder. Once again, me, me and me.

 

Copyright © 2012 Adrian Holdsworth. All Rights Reserved.

February 2012 – Volpe Newsletter

Some of you appear a little bemused by the newsletters. In conversations recently, one or two of you have expressed concern over my well-being, and the fact that you don’t have a clue what the heck I am going on about. Has it crossed your mind, that I may not have a clue either?

But let me explain. In the universe where I live, the sky is always blue, the sea is always warm, the grass is never greener, snow doesn’t go slushy, Boris Johnson is London Mayor, Nick Sarkozy is 6’2” and baby sweet corn is banned. Why? Well for some people it is clowns, for me it is baby sweet corn, cracks in the pavement, and hairs on the palms of my hand. The list doesn’t stop there, but I can see that one or two of you at the back are starting to drop off.

Why do I think like this? Well, on a Friday evening when the temperature was -5C and the wind chill made it feel like -15C, I met Duran (underwear model). He was wearing shorts and rollerblades! OK he had a t-shirt on, for a change. No wonder I am, what I am.

As for poor M. Sarkozy, he has been getting some stick for spending 10K a day on food. Somehow I don’t think he’ll be eating baby sweet corn. Anyway back to the 10K per day. When I sit down to supper with Nick and Carla, they generally stump a week’s worth of cash on the wine alone. She and I may play footsie under the table, whilst she feeds me oysters. Sorry, did I just think that? Or did I really put pen to paper? It couldn’t be Nick’s feet, but I don’t think his legs are long enough, and the invite always say “no heels”, so what am I to wear? I’d taken up pole dancing to keep fit and I thought the stripper heels would be just perfect.

Sam is still living the life. This visit was sans famille, just between Mumbai, Dubai and goodbye. Apparently he’s off to Mars next year, lucky fellow, there and back in a weekend on Airmiles by all accounts. Let’s just hope he takes the family, if they will let the kids out of school.

Neil is in Norway staring at the Aurora Borealis. If I didn’t know better I’d think he was lying on his back in his flat in Ibiza surrounded by mushroom stalks. But photos of him exist outside Noma in Copenhagen, and he did go inside and eat with Eugene.

Greg, the cougar magnate, has been disciplined for sleeping overnight in the office after a particularly heavy session. I should hope so too. If the gutter is good enough for me, then it should be for him. No good falling asleep with your head on the keyboard. You’ll probably find when you wake up you’ve cost your employers several billion dollars. Anyway, he wanted me to get a table at The Wolseley for Valentines, then he didn’t, then he did, then he didn’t. Oh come on, I’ve got a newsletter to write.

On the quiet, The Wolseley has become my dead letter drop. I have a great friend in Marie, who I often see at breakfast. She doesn’t have an email or do the internet, so I supply her regularly with envelopes stuffed with the newsletter, usually via Jason or Shirley. They can then discreetly pass on the mighty tome. I am awaiting her feedback, but as she clearly thinks I’m mad already, I don’t think anything I have written will change her mind.

Jason may be moving on to greater things. He has intimated that I may have to learn an entirely new set of social skills to communicate with his replacement. Suddenly I am racked with self-doubt I think I may be too old to change. Surgery can only alter so much it may take years of therapy to cope with this.

But, I suppose this is what you’ve really been waiting for. The back pages, and Don Fabio and the saga of the invisible man ‘aka’ ‘Arry. Now I don’t care what you might think, but I feel sorry for Don Fabio.  At least he has been less colourful than some of his predecessors. Who can forget Mr Burns with Nancy, Ulrika et al, and Dutch my akshent ish schlipping. Perhaps Mourinho will throw his hat in the ring, buying a house in London. He’s never been known to play to the media, ever.

Don Fabio had a thankless task trying to marshal 11 hopeless narcissists into a team, with their ridiculous rivalries, quiffy hair and diamond jewellery. Suddenly I reminded of, me, me and me. I guess trying to manage eleven of me would prove too much for anyone. Fortunately no more than three of my personalities manifest themselves at any one time.

Stop Press: Big Mick has gone. I had told Jake to take the case off and leave it off, but no. Between games he’d put it back. It’s like England having a part time manager. In the end, I think it jinxed Mick. He’ll never forgive me for that one! But he has been on Twitter berating journalists about getting God the sack. However he is starting to accept the interim replacement. Thank goodness he keeps muttering, not Steve Bruce.

 

Copyright © 2012 Adrian Holdsworth. All Rights Reserved.