Last night I dreamed of Andrew Neil. Strange woman, I hear you say and I agree - as lyrical dreams go it's not exactly Manderley burning in the distance. However, I have no control over my subconscious or I'd dream more adventurously - possibly about someone I'd actually met.

 

You would think it more likely that Mr Neil would be sitting in the River Room at the Savoy having a business breakfast with the other captains of industry and financial fat cats, rather than hanging around aimlessly in a stranger's dreams. Not this morning, though. Just a few assorted tourists, lots of very earnest suits, myself and lovely, lovely Michael - so Andrew and I will have to be properly introduced another time. Preferably when I'm somewhat less hung over.

 

But the River Room is still the sort of place that deals are struck. The air is as dry as toast with only a scraping of barely audible conversation. No one laughs. I got engaged here, a lifetime ago, and no one laughed then, either. Give me your future and I'll give you the family cabochon cut sapphire surrounded by six diamonds. A bargain I thought at the time.

This morning, it's just a choice between coffee and tea, though nothing much else seems to have changed. The carpet looks as though it's on a mid-week break from a sea-side bed and breakfast, the fringed tart's knicker's curtains are pining for suburbia and the tablecloths blind you with the kind of laundry whiteness that advertising executives think housewives fantasise about. Granted, after Andrew Neil, dreaming about Ariel Bio seems positively normal.

 

So, will you take this coffee, Madam, asks the waiter earnestly - and maybe some orange juice? Oh, I will, I will. And then some eggs benedict, black pudding, a finnan haddock poached in milk, or kippers perhaps?

Em, maybe not. Let's not rush into things. Take it slowly. We could live together with the toast first, see how things go - or perhaps share a croissant. Thankfully, there's no pressure. When I can once again face the thought of solid food lovely, lovely Michael orders a pair of poached eggs with bacon and mushrooms, and I tweak the edges of my hangover just wide enough to attempt an omelette with mushrooms on the side. A vacuum jug of coffee is left on the table snuggled up beside a large carafe of orange juice - and though the coffee isn't great there is the wondrous vast expanse of the view with the river running through it, as compensation.

 

And you do need some/italics/ compensation. To me, the whole point of a hotel dining room is that you shouldn't ever set foot in it. Certainly not before noon. You should be upstairs swanning around with a starched linen sheet wrapped round you, dropping towels in your wake, with the curtains drawn and the do not disturb sign on the door, If you must to forgo the pleasures of room service then breakfast should be the hearty, lavish, and completely self-indulgent consolation prize. That it also comes, like ketchup with chips, at a ludicrously inflated price, is without question. It's the deal. So don't whine about it.

 

But who says it has to resemble boarding school food? Is it so the city chaps feel safe and securely institutionalised that my omelette arrives smoothly folded over like a hermetically sealed face flannel? Is it against refectory rules to have crisp bacon instead of glistening, frilly white rinds snaking across the plate. And what's with the corporate mushrooms? Uniform in colour, shape and size, with the texture of poached ping pong balls, they are as tasteless as topless darts, but much less compelling.

 

Of course you can opt for health and vigour and have fruit salad, berries, meusli and prune juice instead but that's as sad as going to Edinburgh for an all over tan. Where are the field mushrooms, the fried bread, the frazzled bacon? In fairness, though my omelette was exceptionally good in all but aesthetics. It had left the kitchen at exactly the right time to arrive still soft and just cooked in the middle. Gentle enough to banish even the most demonic of hangovers. Similarly, lovely lovely Michael's poached eggs, though spherical, pert and as impossibly perfect as Barbie's breasts, trembled appealingly atop two little fossilised discs of bread. What they were for - I don't know.

 

You could just sit there all day and let the river carry you straight up and with a twist to the American bar for martinis. tinkly sub-Liberace piano, sing-alonga-Cole-Porter and little bowls of cashew nuts. One drink and you're Novocain numb from the neck down. Two and you're in a gentle parallel universe where everyone is waving pretty flowers. But hey, that's how I got into this hangover in the first place. Best stick with the coffee.

 

Naturally service in the River Room is impeccable. Discreet, almost to neglect. Waiters read your mind and arrive by telepathy. My thoughts, thankfully, were very circumspect. It's only at night that I have to reign them in. To: thebusiness@ft.com

From: eatingout@ft.com

Subject: THe Savoy - Sorry other was the loose first version use this Cc:

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To save on words you could, shorten lovely, lovely Michael to just lovely, but then you'd be halving his appeal.

 

 

 

 

Last night I dreamed of Andrew Neil. Strange woman, I hear you say and I agree - as lyrical dreams go it's not exactly Manderley burning in the distance. However, I have no control over my subconscious or I'd dream more adventurously - possibly about someone I'd actually met.

 

You would think it more likely that Mr Neil would be sitting in the River Room at the Savoy having a business breakfast with the other captains of industry and financial fat cats, rather than hanging around aimlessly in a stranger's dreams. Not this morning, though. Just a few assorted tourists, lots of very earnest suits, myself and lovely, lovely Michael - so Andrew and I will have to be properly introduced another time. Preferably when I'm somewhat less hung over.

 

The River Room still seems to be the sort of place that deals are struck. The air is as dry as toast with only a scraping of barely audible but intense conversation. No one laughs. I got engaged here, a lifetime ago, and no one laughed then, either. Give me your future and I'll give you the family cabochon cut sapphire surrounded by six diamonds. A bargain I thought at the time.

 

This morning, it's just a choice between coffee and tea, though nothing much else seems to have changed. The carpet looks as though it's on a mid-week break from a sea-side B&B, the fringed tart's knicker's curtains are pining for suburbia and the tablecloths blind you with the kind of laundry whiteness that advertising executives think housewives fantasise about. Granted, after Andrew Neil, dreaming about Ariel Bio seems positively normal.

 

So, will you take this coffee, Madam, asks the waiter earnestly - and maybe some orange juice? Oh, I will, I will. And then some eggs benedict, black pudding, a finnan haddock poached in milk, or kippers perhaps?

 

Em, maybe not. Let's not rush into things. Take it slowly. We could live together with the toast first, see how things go - or perhaps share a croissant. Thankfully, there's no pressure. Eventually lovely, lovely Michael orders a pair of poached eggs with bacon and mushrooms, and I tweak the edges of my hangover just wide enough to attempt an omelette with mushrooms on the side. A vacuum jug of coffee is left on the table snuggled up beside a large carafe of orange juice - and though the coffee isn't great there is the wondrous vast expanse of the view with the river running through it, as compensation.

 

And you do need some/italics/ compensation. To me, the whole point of a hotel dining room is that you shouldn't ever set foot in it. Certainly not before noon. You should be upstairs swanning around with a starched linen sheet wrapped round you, dropping towels in your wake, with the curtains drawn and the do not disturb sign on the door, If you must to forgo the pleasures of room service then breakfast should be the hearty, lavish, and completely self-indulgent consolation prize. That it also comes, like ketchup with chips, at a ludicrously inflated price, is without question. It's the deal. So don't whine about it.

 

But who says it has to resemble boarding school food? Is it so the city chaps feel safe and securely institutionalised that my omelette arrives smoothly folded over like a hermetically sealed face flannel? Is it against refectory rules to have crisp bacon instead of glistening, frilly white rinds snaking across the plate. And what's with the corporate mushrooms? Uniform in colour, shape and size and with the texture of poached ping pong balls, they are as tasteless as topless darts, but much less compelling.

 

Of course you can opt for health and vigour and have fruit salad, berries, meusli and prune juice instead but that's as sad as going to Edinburgh for an all over tan. Where are the field mushrooms, the fried bread, the frazzled bacon? In fairness, though my omelette was exceptionally good in all but aesthetics. It had left the kitchen at exactly the right time to arrive still soft and just cooked in the middle. Gentle enough to banish even the most demonic of hangovers. Similarly, lovely lovely Michael's poached eggs, though spherical, pert and as impossibly perfect as Barbie's breasts, trembled appealingly, albeit atop two little fossilised discs of bread. What they were for - I don't know.

 

You could just sit there all day idling,then let the river carry you straight up and with a twist to the American bar for martinis at seven. A haven of tinkly sub-Liberace piano, sing-alonga-Cole-Porter and little bowls of cashew nuts. One drink and you're Novocain numb from the neck down. Two and you're in a gentle parallel universe where everyone is waving pretty flowers. But hey, that's how I got into this hangover in the first place. Best stick with the coffee.

 

Naturally service in the River Room is impeccable - discreetly verging on neglect when waiters miraculously read your mind and arrive by telepathy. My thoughts, thankfully, were very circumspect. It's only at night that I have to reign them in.