I dislike shops at the best of times. I bloody well hate WH Smiths and I reserve a particular loathing for the one at Waterloo Station. Not only is it crowded, poorly laid out and staffed by witless, foreign speakers on the 2010 equivalent of a YOP scheme for the brain dead but they make it their money in a modern form of rape and pillage by relieving you of as much as yours as they can possibly get away with without being dragged off in a white van with a blue flashing light on it. Their uniform ought to be a black striped vest, a mask and the till should be marked "swag."
I stopped by there last night to buy 20 Silk Cut. For £7.30 I expected a bit more of a pleasant exchange than, "Would you like a large bar of chocolate or packet of Haribo's for a £1?" Fvcking what?
No I bloody wouldn't, I'll mostly be deciding what I want and when I want it and it mostly won't be including sickly confectionary on discount.
£7.30? The last time I paid £7.15 for a packet of cigarettes was in the American Bar at the Savoy and how I miss it. They made you feel good about spending your taxi fare home on a last cocktail. Indeed, I've celebrated and commiserated there in equal measure over the years and it's charm was intact right up until the point they allowed mobile phones and stopped the mandatory jackets rule. I hope they have the stones to lay the law down when it reopens.
I couldn't afford to eat there much though....... memories of taking one girl to the River Room when I was nineteen and inadvertently blowing a whole months pay are not easily forgotten, especially as she thinned herself out shortly afterwards...... hope she has piles and varicose veins now. Not being one to easily understand menus written in French, or paying for them, I learned my lesson quickly and by the time Mrs Flashbang came along the drill was a cocktail in the American Bar and then over the road to Joe Allens for supper.
Still, Mrs Flashbang was around just in time to go to Jules Bar in Jermyn Street with me before some avaricious landlords roofed the lease to unaffordable levels and the site was redeveloped. Jules was, in my sentimental view, probably the best bar in the world that served the best gin and tonics in the known and still to be discovered galaxies. I still miss it, but then virtually nothing in Jermyn Street is as it was, the only decent English shirtmaker left is New & Lingwood; the rest having sold their souls and heritage a long time ago.
Incidentally, while I was looking for a picture of Jules Bar, (couldn't find one), I stumbled across this charming blog, Caroline's Miscellany which is worth a passing visit. This page is especially poignant.