I was down there hawking my photography portfolio around the big publishing houses, and the young woman picture researcher/editor/commissioner, or whatever she was, asked me whether she could take me to lunch. I didn’t say ‘no, I’d rather go and spend a small fortune on a black olive sandwich from the Fortnum and Mason food hall’, so off we went.
We were joined by another young woman colleague of hers, and I asked whether it was normal to take photographers out to lunch. My limited experience of the corporate world had always led me to believe that companies only take people out to lunch when they want to curry their favour – as, for example, they do with big clients who might put money their way, or tax inspectors who might take it off them. Hence the expression ‘there’s no such thing as a free lunch.’ Well, it seems there was that day. My date – for want of a more appropriate term – explained that they could get away with it since I was at least a visitor, and the real reason for doing it was that it was the only way the staff ever got a free lunch. (Which suggests that publishing house staff are as conniving as politicians, but more honest about it.)
The restaurant proved to be a new experience for me. The chef was obviously one of those metropolitan types to whom the first principles of culinary practice are:
1. Do something different.
2. Make it graphic.
… the result of which is that you don’t know whether you’re supposed to eat it or take it home and give it pride of place in a display cabinet. But you eat it anyway, and then wonder why you bothered.
Still, the scenery was pretty. Both of them.