Yesterday I had lunch with two old friends , a lunch that seems to have taken place since time immemoriam. After various venues we settled on the Guinea Grill as one a keen trencherman and imbiber said it had a fine wine list .
The Guinea Grill has been going for years- like us. It’s rather a curious place as the front is a small and popular pub. The grill rooms to the rear are similarly compact . The area where we are normally housed with its mahogany panelling rather reminds me of an old fashioned dining car in the grand old age of locomotive travel.
We always had much amusement from and with the sommelier Farid. He was Lebanese and had an unctuous manner but I have never met a better sommelier and after a few years we left the wine selection to him. It was worth having a cognac to see how he warmed the glasses as if it was an elaborate chemistry experiment. White wine was not just cooled but ice was placed in the goblet too. Here was a man who loved his wine and although my two pals were and are joshers he took the mild banter in good part. Alas he is now retired.
Our regular waitress Dee is still there. We always thought she came from Rank central casting as she would not be out of place in a romantic role ina 50s war movie played by ,say ,Virginia McKenna with her cut glass accent and using expressions like” rather”.
This year – as I was reminded in many emails- was my turn to host which I was only too happy to do. I chose their signature dish of Steak and kidney pie for which they won awards but my two pals were fulsome in complimenting the rib eye and lamb. My friend ‘s taste for fine wine was quenched by a Meursault and Pomerol.
My friendship with one goes back 51 years and the other 45 . Dr Johnson said the only thing you cannot acquire in life is an old friend. Moving down to the Coast I have acquired many new and valued friends but with old friends one is never afraid to work up a head of steam on issues. In this case there was a disagreement over this Chad Evans business. I feet strongly he has the right of rehabilitation and the testimony of the victim almost all of which was she was too drunk to remember was flawed but the counter argument was the conviction of rapist-rightly or wrongly- had been made and Chad Evans had yet to clear his name. .
For me it is stimulating that you debate an issue , agree to differ and when we departed, as I had to do promptly at 3-20 , as I had a business engagement in Canary Wharf there is no rancour. Mind you I did settle the bill.