'All Day Breakfast' - What's that all about? Typical of people's attitude of today: must have it, and must have it now, regardless of the hour.
In my day, one waited to hear the gong being banged at the bottom of the stairs before going down at around 8.00 a.m. to lift lids in the search for kedgeree, nomatter what time one retired, and by the time it had gone cold, it had been cleared away, so if you were late, you had to wait for luncheon - or nip below stairs to cadge something from cook.
I am thinking along these lines because tomorrow we return to the vast hotel outside Oxford which has a wonderful breakfast - dishes quietly steaming beneath faux silver helmets and individual pots of English marmalade sitting on the tables, waiting to be smeared over slices of Mother's Pride toast.
The huge silvered lids are a little too hot for comfort against cold morning hands, but are hinged on one side, making allowance for their extreme weight. The first time I lifted one at around 8 in the morning, I did not know that it was not sprung-balanced so let it go just before it had reached it's natural zenith, and the noise it made in the quiet dining room when it fell back onto the charger was deafeningly loud and shocking. Everyone went rigid for a couple of seconds, and I am pretty sure that one or two people that had not completed their morning ablutions simply did so involuntarily at their table. I was not alone though - a young woman did just the same thing about 10 minutes later, and I felt just as hostile toward her as every else had toward me a little earlier.
I've come to the conclusion that one of the best things about hotels is the breakfast. I would have a fry-up at home every morning if it was put in front of me, but can you see H.I. getting up an hour before me to make it? No, and it's probably a good thing otherwise I would be about 18 stone or dead by now if she did. One of the worst things about hotels is the ungodly hour at which they start serving it, and the slightly less ungodly hour when they stop serving it - just to make their lives easier.
You have just picked up your room keys at reception and signed all the paperwork, etc, when the young lady shouts up at you as you climb the stairs, "Oh, and breakfast is served between 6.30 and 7.30 in the dining room. Enjoy your stay." You just know you are going to have one glass of wine too many that night, and you just know you are going to feel like shite up until the second cup of coffee in the morning, so 'enjoy your stay' just sounds like a warning.
We are going to Oxford for the day (and night) partly to meet up with an old friend, but also to see the painter, Howard Hodgkin's vast collection of Indian paintings, currently on show at the Ashmolean.
Hodgkin used to live just outside Bath, and would often be seen wandering around town here. Another friend of ours was a mate of his, and Hodgkin noticed that he had a particularly beautiful Indian painting hanging on his wall at his flat. H.H. fell in love with it and asked if his friend would sell it to him, but he declined. Hodgkin became obsessed with the picture, and each time he visited, his offer increased in value, but our mate - not needing the money - wouldn't budge. It ended up with Howard H. simply inviting his mate to choose from any of his own paintings (which sell for 5 or 6 figures) in return for the Indian one, but he said that he liked the painting and wanted it to remain on his wall, thanks anyway.
I don't think that Howard Hodgkin ever spoke to him again. Painters are a strange lot - especially the ones who also collect.
See you on friday.