An Afternoon Off


I am not the world’s most natural lone wolf – I am usually surrounded on all sides by 100s of siblings or if I’m at work; ‘undead crusaders’  – but I do see that it is important to have time to yourself, and be comfortable with and look forward to that. If only to prepare yourself for those tragic moments when you are alone and you did not chose to be. Nothing worse than being alone by default! I work on this by treating myself to solo cultural jaunts around London that can be filed under “research and development” for my accountant.

I was recently instructed in the concept of self-care and it turns out I am great at it. Yesterday I took myself off to see an exhibition of Russian art at the Royal Academy. I invested £3.50 in the audio guide hoping to totally immerse myself in the show but after seeing a melancholy portrait of Prokofiev, I walked around listening to his Romeo and Juliet hammering away in my ears and felt full to the brim with excitement. I didn’t even remember it was the theme tune to ‘The Apprentice’.

Afterwards, having bought a commemorative postcard and wished once again that I could be the person who curates the merchandise in gallery gift shops – I would have bought every propaganda emblazoned tea towel and suprematism tea set they could have thrown at me – I made a pilgrimage to Hatchards. I spent the majority of my childhood scowling in second bookshop doorways wishing my dad would hurry up and leave but now I’ve waved goodbye to 30 and I have an almost fetishistic urge to collect books. Visiting a good bookshop is unbridled heaven for me. On this occasion I bought 6 and carted them off to The Wolseley where I ordered a pot of Earl Grey and an apfel strudel and began reading.

The genius of The Wolseley lies in its being exuberantly but quietly, knowingly grand. Like a reverential Dame, putting everyone at ease whilst keeping a cool distance. Like Emma Thompson. She’s way too classy for you, but she’s not making a big deal about it . Everything has been done to the best standards and it’s the feeling of having The Best as standard that is so transformative. In this way one is transported to a fantasy life in which enjoying a new book over a pot of Earl Grey and an apfel strudel is absolutely the done thing. Don’t bother me, see you in two hours.