Monday, July 13, 2009

Safe in my old cocoon

Once upon a time, when I was young, I became active in the Young Liberals - a radical bunch indeed, if not necessarily that effective. As I rose effortlessly through the ranks - it wasn't that I was that good, it was just that I was consistently the only person available to fill vacancies, it dawned on me that a radical gesture was required.

For a middle-class surburban kid like myself, the idea of doing something that involved risk, pain or demonstration was ruled out instantly. So I joined the National Liberal Club, immediately marking me out from the knit your own muesli, sandal wearing tree huggers who were my contemporaries - lovely people though they were.

I loved the Club, wood-panelled walls, leather armchairs, a terrace overlooking the Thames, and conveniently located for Parliament, the South Bank and the West End. I was single, carefree and with the sort of disposable income that made one painfully content with one's lot. It was a great place to host our international visitors too, as a gentlemens' club was always likely to impress.

Unfortunately, I had to give it up when I first married - the cost was a bit of a luxury all of a sudden. However, as my finances improved, I dusted off my right to rejoin and renewed my membership. That was 1996 and for a number of years after that, I popped in from time to time, grabbing a drink at the bar, making conversation with the barman, an institution called Benito, whose attitude to those wanting refreshment was famous, and occasionally treating myself to dinner.

I even availed myself of my reciprocal rights - Los Angeles, Mumbai, Dunedin, Bangkok, all of them allowed me the opportunity to seek sanctuary from the hubbub of urban life.

In recent years, however, my opportunities to visit began to become fewer, and I was beginning to wonder whether or not it was time to give it up. It isn't cheap and, whilst a gentleman is allowed the odd indulgence, the money could be better spent.

Until now, that is. Now that my domestic arrangements have changed, and a pied-de-terre in inner London is part of them, I actually have an excuse to drop in more often, especially during the Parliamentary recess, when Ros is in Suffolk and I am, during the week at least, in London.

So, I get to entertain a bit. If you're in London midweek, and you fancy a drink, and a look around one of London's more secluded corners, drop me an e-mail. Give me some notice, and if I'm free, and you're properly attired (jacket and tie for men, no jeans, proper shoes please), we'll see what can be done. And don't forget, Lord Bonkers is known to frequent the place when in town, or so I'm told - I've never laid eyes on the old buffer when I've been here, to be honest...

3 comments:

Jennie said...

You mean pied-รก-terre

;)

Mark Valladares said...

Jennie,

Quite right... *sigh* Mind you, using the BlackBerry, I can't put the accents on anyway...

Jennie said...

I'm no good at putting on accents. I've been living with Mat for 18 months now and I still can't do Devon. And I can only do Teesside because I spent a lot of my childhood up there staying with my nan...