Be warned - those round robin e-mails you send at Christmas circulate your contact numbers to shameless people like myself who think - hey, look - new friends on-line. There was Phill Jupitus@mylittlesecret.co.uk - co-presenter of my favourite Friday night programme Never Mind the Buzzcocks - blinking at me seductively from my computer screen, .
Dinner, I proposed, after a suitable number of grovelling, ego-stroking, sycophantic e-mails had passed between us.
Lunch, he offered gamely instead. However, windows of opportunity opened and closed like supermarket check out lines. Our date was cancelled and rescheduled more often than a charter flight during an air traffic control strike. Lunch was bounced down to breakfast, bumped up to tea and circled on a holding pattern for several weeks until eventually we agreed to meet at 11.00am before his early afternoon radio show in Aldwych.
Result, you'd think, but you'd be wrong. There seem to be no funky, fabulous places within spinning distance of Bush House where you can go with a jobbing comedian to have a mid-week brunch. There are hotels, of course, but we've been there, done that and got the soggy t-bag. Bank seemed ideal. but it stops serving breakfast at 10.00am, and in common with most other restaurants doesn't open for lunch until noon. Apart from Indigo in One Aldwych which serves breakfast until 11.30, it was the Star Cafe in Soho for Corn Beef Hash, patisserie at Maison Bertrand or Fortnum's for old ladies in hats.
Big Phill, though not over-keen on millinery, chose The Fountain Restaurant. So, off I taxied, picked him up - not literally you understand - perambulated him around the food hall, and settled him in a corner banquette. I thought there would be more of a choice - kedgeree or eggs awash with hollandaise but it's a small menu - more breakfast than brunch. There are only three main dishes to chose from if you don't count muesli - and frankly, counting muesli is probably preferable to actually eating the stuff no matter how good it is.
You can go upstairs to the Patio for lighter dishes but we wanted hefty, long, lingering, getting to know you sort of food. Well, I really just wanted his autograph - and maybe a few a capella song intros.
Phill had a large glass of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice and the highland scramble - a generous portion of nicely scrambled eggs on brown toast served with heaps of good smoked salmon and one of those enormous phallic pepper mills which only the waitress is allowed to touch. I think you have to do a course - grinding 101 - or be specially initiated into the secret art of peppering. Men's Health, presumably, run features on it.
I had the farmhouse breakfast - well it was that or kippers which, though lovely, are not the way to make friends and influence people. It consisted of the usual artery clenching stuff - bacon, sausages, a couple of poached eggs, some fried, and I do mean fried, non-generic, non mass-produced fabulous mushrooms and a few slivers of excellent black pudding. It came with a orange juice and coffee or tea
Farmhouses or highland moors don't immediately spring to mind while breakfasting amid the powder room glamour of Fortnum's sumptuous faux Empire gilt, but I suppose the filigree breakfast doesn't have quite the same ring to it. Equally culture shocked and confused were some American visitors who, noting that there was a special promotion of Irish produce, asked the waitress if The Fountain was an Irish restaurant.
'Tis to be sure, whispered Phill, gesturing at the walls decorated with murals showing the original Mr Fortnum and Mr Mason travelling around the world buying exotic tea and spices.
Just look at all the pictures of the lovely colleens in beautiful country Cork gathering coconuts up there with the Londonderry pelican and over there beside the Dublin camels.
In true Fortnum's tradition there is a wide selection of tea on offer and several blends of coffee. However, given the average age of the other customers - you wouldn't want too much caffeine soaring through their veins. There was quite a number of dowager aunts who indeed kept their hats and fur collars on throughout lunch, a cad in dark glasses wearing a pink carnation, and a host of lone middle-aged men squeezed into little coats with velvet lapels, two sizes too small, who looked as if they were just off to prep school. It's all terribly civilised - an institution that you'd happily pay to be locked up in.
Service was unhurried yet efficient - a wonderful mix of Carry-on friendliness with pre-war formality. I could have sat there all morning except that Phill was rather taken with our red-headed waitress which made my presence redundant.
Instead I lured him over the road into Tower records where I stood preening by his side while callow youths muttered, isn't that Robbie Coltrane into their Cappa jackets.
I hope they thought I was Helen Mirren.