It has been 41 days since my last blog post. I haven’t had much of an appetite for a Table for ONE – the blog, nor the meal. The more I have wanted to write the less I have been able to. Dr. Jim (HVS’s resident expert on all things personal) said this is part of the healing process and “good progress”. Doesn’t feel like progress if you ask me!
A few weeks ago I went to a talk on networking by Guardian columnist, author, filmmaker and hilarious Guy Browning. As the audience waited for the room to be set up I realised something I hadn’t given much thought to in a while. Restaurants aren’t the only scary dens for people on their own. This audience for a networking talk had a fair number of singles – makes sense. I was here, just like the rest, to learn how to build useful relationships when I’m out on my own. The girl in the glasses was fidgeting with handbag (for the entire 15 minutes we were all waiting); the other girl without glasses was fiercely tapping away at her BlackBerry; and most of the other singles were busy with their iPod/ iPhone/iPad. Nobody looked at anyone else, yet they were all hiding from the rest of the room. But I digress… a few weeks ago I finally saw the sun rise on my very long night of writer’s block.
London’s iconic Savoy hotel closed for renovations shortly after I moved to London. I never got the chance to try their Peach Melba (created here for the first time in 1893) or drink in the ambience at the bar that introduced cocktails to Europe over a 100 years ago. Three years and £220 million later the Savoy has finally re-opened. One couldn’t escape the news if they tried. The hotel’s PR machinery was in overdrive, regularly releasing delicious details: from the Pierre Yves Rochon’s designed suites and renovated restaurants to a museum of memorabilia and a brand new champagne bar.
I wanted to start at the American Bar – see where it all began. My first attempt was with my friend Madison. Everywhere was jam packed and the wait was over an hour. A Manager tried his best to control the exasperation amongst the waiting diners; and failed. When I walked into the hotel Friday night everywhere was jam packed and the wait was over an hour. The Manager recognised me, and risking the wrath of others waiting in the queue before me walked me to a seat at the bar.
It is almost silly how excited I was. This was the American Bar – one of the world’s best hotel bars that comes with a legacy of serving some of the best cocktails. From HG Wells to Marilyn Monroe – they had all been here. As I walked down a corridor leading to the bar I was preparing to be dazzled. I have never been more underwhelmed by anything. The American Bar is divided into two rooms. The front room with a grand piano and the back room where stood the bar; almost ashamed of itself, tucked in a corner next to the kitchen. I settled into one of the four uncomfortable barstools and ordered a Manhattan (£14). The drink was delicious and instead of berating the incredibly ordinary bar I chose to study the rather extraordinary cocktail list. Eric, my suave Slovakian bartender was charming all night long. Next he made me a Savoy Daisy (£14, fruity and also delicious) created in honour of the reopening.
I shut the menu and almost reached for my phone. Not that it was ringing, but I hadn’t done this in a long time and I needed a security blanket. I checked myself in time and forced myself to relax. And think about second chances.
We can only make a first impression once. Is that why we try so hard when given a second chance? Is that what the Manager was doing when he helped me jump the queue? Why don’t we just work better the first time round? My parents went their separate ways when I was very young. Since then my father re-married and is still with his wife. Did my father give himself a second chance? My mother is still single. Was my mother never given a second chance or did she choose to ignore it? These is not a straightforward question, nor will it have straightforward answer.
Here’s hoping I allow myself to recognise a second chance… and grab it!