Town mouse visits Selfridges

On Sunday, we cooked a rib of beef. It was middle son Johnny’s 13th birthday, and we received the greatest possible compliment from his friend Patrick, who said the meal felt like Christmas. The butcher, formerly of Borough Market, who flourished (or perhaps didn’t flourish) briefly in our street, has closed.

Instead, as the afternoon wore on, I found myself in Selfridges, architecturally my second-favourite department store, after Peter Jones: that great Beaux-Arts parade of columns still makes a splash, a century after it was built.

I was sorry to see that the food hall has been taken over by high-street brands, including Krispy Kreme. (In the southern American state of Georgia, they’ve been known to serve a burger between two Krispy Kreme doughnuts.) But the man behind the meat counter fingered the marbling of the beef with reverence, if not love, and the joint was worth every penny, which is saying something.

We hadn’t intended to go to Selfridges. We arrived at the end of a wearying hunt for an air-hockey or table-football table. Johnny wanted one or the other, and both are companionable games of skill. And yet no shop that I could identify in London sold them. If we’d wanted a games console, the choice would have been unlimited.

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