Last week I spent a morning upstairs, at a discrete location in Knightbridge, reclining in the arms of a blonde, blue-eyed man called Roman, since which time I have been quite unable to function. My knees still tremble, my hands are shaking, I cant eat, I cant sleep and I can barely string two coherent words together. It could be love, or at the very least uncontrollable lust - but sadly its neither. Its dental surgery. Thanks to a little disagreement with the bottom of a long staircase I am now the proud possessor of several stitches, a swollen face, and a Paris pout - though without recourse to sillicone. Pamela Anderson may have pair of bounce-free breasts but, babe, I have the matching face.
Thank goodness then for neighbourhood restaurants. The sort of place you can go with a bendy straw and an immovable, pneumatic top-lip without anyone caring too much. In West London, for food we have the wonderful Books for Cooks, or for fags and gossip, 192 frequented by Bridget Jones, nice ladies with handbags and the middle-aged media shallowrati. The drawback of the latter is that you cant go with a face like mine without everyone thinking youve had Eastern European plastic surgery. La Trompette, newly opened off Chiswick High Street is slightly more discreet - still a neighbourhood restaurant - just not mine. Coming from the same family as the Glasshouse in Kew, Chez Bruce in Wandsworth and The classy fancypants-two-Michelin-starred Square in W1, La Trompette is sophisticated enough for a celebration and relaxed enough for eccentricity - though Chiswick itself is about as odd as a set of fish knives. Lurking in the cramped streets is a worrying undercurrent of Sunday Supplement hand-built kitchens, conservatory extensions and elaborately ruched curtains, behind which beats a collective heart of pure Peter Jones, with matching valance, and colour co-ordinated headboard.
La Trompette has more minimalist leanings. The dining room is a sombre, rather formal room, with muted lighting, lots of chocolate brown leather and expensively regimented hand-painted stripes on the wall - a feature that my children have thoughtfully provided thoughout our house, free-form and free of charge. In common with its three suburban sister restaurants, the menu is moderately priced at £25 for three courses for dinner - less for lunch - but which with wine, water and service will still add up to around £50 a head.
Given that everything else on the menu necessitated a set of fully functioning molars, I began with a rich, glossy amber chicken consommé with three translucently thin snail ravioli. Due to persistent vegetarianism, I couldnt persuade my daughter Anbara to try either the crisp pigs ear with sweetbreads, or the thinly sliced rump of veal with green beans and pecorino. The only remaining option - a grilled goats cheese served with a wedge of stout wholemeal bread, a handful of salad leaves, sliced artichokes, peppers and a restrained but intense dab of pesto, looked and tasted delicious.
Whats this? I muttered in my newly novocain clipped accent, whilst peering at the torn fragments of herbs floating in my soup.
Come on mummy, youre eating snails/italics/, she replied tartly. Is this really the time to get picky? Just then a Jimmy Edwards lookalike, complete with tweeds, watch-chain and twisty handlebar moustache arrived (forget everything I said earlier about Chiswicks lack of peculiarity). My goodness, do you see that man? I said, in what I thought was my best breathy Melanie Griffiths whisper.
Mummy, could you say that any louder? she hissed. I know your lips arent moving but the volume still works, Since she has become Head Girl of her school, I half expect her to give me detention. Cheek seems almost acceptable. However, I still remember when she called her Barbies Saliva and Chlorine so she neednt get too uppity with me.
Main courses are mostly hearty Mediterranean dishes with, unfortunately, little suited to the dentally challenged. Undoubtedly the daube of beef would have been beautifully soft and tender, but nothing will induce me to eat the accompanying Jerusalem artichoke puree. Roast guinea fowl, rump of lamb and pot roasted haunch of venison were all rejected as was the delectable sounding cod with sage and onion crust and puy lentils. The Head Girl will not allow our dwindling supplies of cod to be eaten - so she had pan-fried sea bass with creamed potatoes - a deceptively rich and over-poweringly buttery dish, leaving me to mumble my way through a cassoulet. It was very good though perhaps a tad too elegant for such a gutsy dish.
For pudding I tried to persuade the Head Girl to have the gateux basque with rubarb and orange compote but instead we shared some profiteroles. Perfect crisp little puffs of choux pastry, stuffed with cream and drenched in chocolate sauce - like 1975 on a plate, but without the dessert trolley. As I was licking my fingers - the one pleasure left to me - my daughter said: Dyou know, with that swollen nose and mouth you look just like those people from Who-ville in the film the Grinch.
Oh xxxx, I replied sharply. Some words work satisfyingly well with tight lips. And there are always the nude baby pictures I carry in my wallet.