Please sir, I want some more.
Henry VIII, so the story goes, had to be winched onto his horse in later life, such was his girth. When I read about this at school, I thought it was hilarious. But after the week I’ve had, I’m less inclined to laugh. It began with a blow-out of Bunterish proportions at Rules: grouse on toast, rib of beef and a stonk- ing chocolate pudding (plus custard). On our table was a bell that, when dinged, summoned a waiter bearing a decanter of claret. Our host now wants one for his desk.
A similar mechanism was in evidence a few days later at Bob Bob Ricard, Soho’s answer to the Orient Express (signature dish: lobster mashed potato). Our booth was fitted with a button reading ‘Press for Champagne’. Which we did. Repeatedly.
I was there with the president of Champagne Ayala, the house in the heart of the Montagne de Reims, France, that pioneered the drier style of fizz in the late 19th century; previously, it was so syrupy that people used to pour it over cake. Apparently, the future King Edward VII began each day with a flute. I’m tempted to start doing likewise—just as soon as I can persuade the management to install a winch in the office.