An elongated woman sat perched on a chair in front of our table.  On her head a floor-length white lace mantilla was supported by a headdress.  Her dress was a silver sheath of sequins and the only slash of colour in her was her pale pink lips.  Gigantic flower arrangements in orange and red towered above us.  We sank into plumped up cushions and chairs too heavy to move and the procession of food began.

Vintage champagne poured with one hand behind the back.  A porcelain spoonful of fishy mousse to tease our tastebuds.  Perfectly regular rectangular sandwiches with their crusts removed. A pause of a sorbet, then warm fruit scones and plain scones and a choice of jam and thick yellow cream.

Sir will like the tea.  It’s a masculine tea, meant for gentlemen.  And madame, yours is the ladies’ version.

And look who’s there!  Well I never!  Our friend, the would-be-cowboy from Boston.  Would hardly have recognised him.  Slick and shaved and neat in a pinstripe suit, he looked as if he belonged and we greeted him and exchanged our reasons for being there (his more substantial than ours) and phone numbers and plans for tomorrow, and he took our eye off Ashley Cole.  For it was him, wasn’t it?  Pacing up and down, sitting then standing, waiting for someone.  There!  In front of us.  Yes, it was him.  Had to be.  He had ‘footballer’ written all over him.

A posse of platformed models paraded past in fetish shoes and I craned my neck to see up into their lofty faces.  To our right, a Middle Eastern patriarch presided over a long table of women emblazoned with luxurious logos.  Chanel, Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton.  He sat there in in his Ralph Lauren blue polo shirt looking bored, counting the cost of every gluttonous minute.

The cakes arrived and were set up on their stand.  A tower of chocolate.  A raspberry cube.  A coffee meringue.  A toffee tart.  Like French geese, we filled our throats and washed it all down with copious cups of Russian Country tea from the finest china with the thinnest handles you have ever seen.  Replete, we lounged.

Our young companions owned the place, in their combat jacket and too-short-skirt and hair that had not seen a brush for days.  They found a piano made of glass and travelled up and down the lifts from the top floor and back again.  They visited the ladies’ rooms and imagined their coming out party and what fun it would be.

The lady in the lace mantilla got up from her chair and, followed by her entourage of heavy-set men in suits, the Most Stylish Woman Alive glided out into the rainy night.  Ashley Cole disappeared and then came back and finally went for good, and we paid the bill and were walked from the door to the taxi by the Umbrella Man.

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