I returned to the hotel at about four o’clock, laden down with packages and panting for a drink. Opening the door to our room, I found Hubby sitting on the end of the bed, watching a competitive darts match on the telly.
“Hey, Hon,” said he in greeting, “You ever watch this?”
“Yeah, I’ve been watching it for hours. These guys are great. Did you have fun?”
“I did,” I said, pulling off my boots, “And now I’m going to have rum.”
“Rum? Really? Where?”
“Right here,” I told him, taking the bottle and the six pack of Coke out of the carrier bag.
That earned me a smile from the Hubby. “My girl! I love you. Did you get ice?”
Ice? Really? “We’re in England. Learn to drink it with no ice.”
“I need ice.”
“I hear tell they have some downstairs at the bar. They probably have an ice bucket they can lend you, as well, if you ask nicely.”
“And I’ll get us some real glasses, too. We don’t want to drink out of the bathroom glasses.” Don’t we?
Hubby was gone and back in a flash and I made us two stiff drinks. I watched him watching darts as I sipped the glorious juice of the Gods. Egad, but that drink hit the spot.
“Why are you back so early?” Hubby eventually asked.
“I thought I’d come back here and get you and we could walk down to Apsley House together.” Hubby turned away from the telly long enough to give me the fish eye.
“The only way I’d walk to Apsley House today is if you told me it was seventy-four degrees over there. It’s freezing outside.”
“It is seventy-four degrees at Apsley House. And the sun is perennially shining. And they have a pool out back. With pool boys and cabanas.”
“Oh, listen . . . . . I stumbled on the most fantastic restaurant in the next street. It’s called Burger and Lobster.” I proceeded to regale the Hubby with all that I’d seen at the restaurant. “We’ll go and look at it when we go to dinner.”
“Where are we going for dinner? Not lobster?”
“Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese.”
“Oh, not that again!” said Hubby. I couldn’t blame him. On our last trip to London we’d tried twice to eat at the Cheshire Cheese, finding it closed both times. Once after we’d called to make sure they’d be open and, more dreadfully, another time when we’d let the cab go and found ourselves on the deserted streets of the City after business hours with no other cabs in sight. Hubby was not best pleased.
So we eventually toddled our way to the lobster joint, where we pressed our foreheads to the big plate window and watched as the people inside dug into their meals. The joint was packed.
“Boy, they look good,” sighed Hubby. “What do they have at the Cheesey joint?”
“English food. Roast beef, bangers and mash, like that.” Even as I said the words, I knew they couldn’t compete with the scene before our eyes – a restaurant filled with happy, bib wearing people cracking shells and slurping melted butter to their hearts content.
“I guess we should get a cab,” Hubby gamely offered.
“In a bit. There’s something I want you to see first.”
Hubby turned away from the window and sighed. “What is it? Something to do with the Duke? It had better be quick, because it’s freezing.”
“It’s just down the street. You’re going to like this.”
So off we went to Berkeley Square, which really is just down the street. I intended to show the Hubby something that I knew would be just up his alley and then jump in a cab down to Fleet Street. But you know what they say about good intentions . . . . we’d just entered the Square from Curzon Street when I was overcome with the need to begin pointing out sights of historical significance to the Husband.
“That’s Maggs Brothers over there,” I said, pointing.
“It’s a bookshop. And the building is supposedly the most haunted in London.”
“They sell rare and antiquarian books. They sold a copy of the Gutenberg Bible,” I told him, but received no response. I knew that I should just shut up, but again, I was compelled to go on. “And they sold Napoleon’s penis.”
“It was said to be Napoleon’s penis, but that was according to his doctor and his valet and you can’t trust anything the valet said. Look
at what he did with the death mask.”
at what he did with the death mask.”
“Yeah. You’ll see it at Apsley House. They said it was Napoleon, but now there’s speculation that the mask was taken from the living valet’s face, not the dead Napoleon’s face.”
“My good man.”
“Quite. And over there, where those buildings are, is where Gunter’s stood.”
“I just know you’re going to tell me what Gunter’s is.”
“Was. It’s not there any longer and more’s the pity. They were confectioners, most known for their ices. The ton would pull up in their carriages and the staff would bring out trays of ices so that they could eat them without climbing down. Of course, you could go in and eat, too.” Shut up, I advised myself. Save your breath. He has no idea what the ton was and no idea of the cultural significance of Gunter’s. Or Almack’s. Or Vauxhall Gardens, for that matter.
“We’re almost there,” I said. “The place I wanted to show you is right up the street.”
“A Rolls Royce showroom?” Hubby asked as we approached.
“And Bentley’s. I thought you’d like it.”
“I gotta be honest, Hon. This is even better than Napoleon’s penis.”
My good man.
Part Five Coming Soon . . . . . . . .