Monday, 5 July 2010

Hadley's Pimp

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you may need to be forgiven for assuming that Andre and history repeat themselves. You won't find ME forgiving you though. There are some things that have to happen regularly, and Andre eating is one of them.

At the weekend I found myself chortling down to Little Bangladesh, as we smug borderline racists call London, free at last of the burden of academic expectation (at least until the results are out) and gagging for a bit of posh scran. Too long had I been surviving on refried beermats and used toast, and I was legs akimbo for the lushest steakhouse in the capital.

Leaving the airport I called Bono on a whim (possibly a new kind of phone) and fuck me if the bugger didn't just happen to be in town, auditioning jug'n'spoon players for his new solo album. "Skiffle's coming back, I can feel it in me water, bhoy," his inimitable Irish drawl bleated, as the limo swaggered down the M4 like a shark through a crowd of cowped boatpeople.

Trouble is, as I found out when we met up for a round of pre-prandial Pernods at the bar, Bono is now into ethical eating. He carefully disentangled my misunderstanding that this might be something to do with not trashing the place and nutting the Maitre d' if you found burnt bits in your crème brulée, and explained that it was about eating stuff that was Sustainably Sourced, Organic, the product of Fair Trade and cooked using Low Carbon technology. My slavering dream of huge sirloins fled out the door as the Ireland's Mahatma Ghandi made it clear that Ethical Eating was definitely spelt with Capital Letters .

I dutifully followed the bugger round to "The Gastrolabe" and, after grabbing a seat at the back facing the door (you never know what old debts might be wandering around), whispered to the waiter to dim the lights so Bono could take his fucking sunglasses off without squinting. No matter that the rest of the diners would have to squint to see whether they were forking up a piece of lettuce or a piece of tablecloth, but Bono outranked the lot of them in celebritude, and what he wanted, went.

I'll say this for Bono - he's nowt if not a solicitous host. When he caught my groan as I ran my eyes down the menu he called the waiter over (not hard to do when there were fifteen of the buggers hovering around within autograph-shot). "I'll order for the both of us, eh, me bhoy?" and then hastily, when he caught my glower, "And of course this one will be on me". I've been caught out that way by Bono before, the cheapskate bastard, with his "Oh I've left my credit card in the hotel. I don't handle money much nowadays. I just plain forgot", when I know damn well he's got a minder in the car outside with the authority to sign for as much as a Mourinho.

Don't get me wrong - I've got no problem about buying Paul Hewson's dinner - after all I'd be making more mileage out of this meal that I could spend with my pants around my ankles - but I gag mightily at the thought of paying to eat shit that some bugger else has chosen.

I shouldn't be so uncharitable. The meal, when it came, was worth every note. Not because it was good but because it proved that the Sustainable Restaurant Association's idea of ethical eating is about as pig-ignorant as the Millwall branch of MENSA. The menu proudly declared that "Squid is a great choice. It's the most sustainable fish at the moment, as we have overfished their predators and they're multiplying with abandon". Even a troglodyte like me knows how most squid are caught. Yes, driftnets. Dirty great floating nets strung out across 10 miles or more of ocean. And what else do they catch? Right - anything else that lives near the surface. Including anything that needs to breathe air for a living. Like, erm, highly sustainable turtles and porpoises. Ethical Eating my hairy arse. I loved it.

As I picked through my plate of squid, barbecued in the kitchen over "sustainably-coppiced British softwood charcoal" (as if anyone could actually coppice conifers), hoping to find Flipper's eyeball, Bono finally ventured the real reason why he was so keen to feed me. As if I didn't know. "You know, me bhoy, I could do with a bit of entertainment after this. I haven't enjoyed meself in a gentleman's way, if you catch me drift, for, ooh, 12 hours or more. Hey, are you still in touch with your little friend, you know, whatsername, the one who writes about womens things?"

I tried to look puzzled. Let the bastard work for it. "YOU know, Whatsername! Tells people why sweatpants are the work of the devil. She gave me a few good tips last time you took me round, let me tell you now!" Yeah, right. I seem to remember it took him a couple of days and a visit to the proctologist to extract them.

"Oh, you mean Hadley Freeman - the world's tiniest British-based American fashion journalist", I smirked. "Let me give her a call". I snapped my fingers for the house iPhone, which was brought to me on a sustainably-sourced bronze platter, and promised Hadders that we'd definitely be round within the time it took Bono to locate his wallet.

Three hours later we rolled up to Hadley's city apartment and I decanted the world's best-paid Irish larynx onto the bedroom carpet, already shuddering with anticipation. Hadley's eyes lit up and she stood on tiptoe to kiss my hand. "Andre, you huuuge lump of handsomeness. You trussed him up just like a great big Thanksgiving turkey. I'm going to get my basting equipment!" she squealed.

As per usual when Hadders is giving a prospective victim the once-over - or "foreplay" as she liked to call it - I idly leafed through the articles on her laptop. She's going up in the world, you know. Ever since I were a lad she's been best known for "Ask Hadley" - where people ask her about this or that fashion idea and she rips them to shreds, dripping sarcasm all over their winklepickers. But the latest one - a review of Sex and the City 2 - seemed to be a little bland. Am I the only one who thinks that things have gone downhill since she got a "real" column - and that the short format suited her better?

I made a mental note to keep my mouth closed, especially about the "sh…" word, as a the diminutive dominatrix struggled to drag Bono onto a giant baking dish. She may be tiny, but if there's one thing that Hadders really knows about, it's sex in the City. I melted quietly into the night before she started sharpening the skewers, discretion guaranteed.

A waste of good discretion of course. It was all over the front pages the following day. "U2 pull out of Glasto!" "Britain's biggest festival hit by Bono back injury!" "Damon Fucking Albarn to step in!"

I would have to have a word with Hadders. A very stern word.

Wait a minute! I grabbed my phone and speed-dialled the only person in the world to be expelled from art school for incompetence. "Damon, my man! I've just discovered this great little place! Fancy a night out?"

Come to me, Damon my lovely!