On the floor: Being a high-flyer has its low points

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The Independent Culture
It's less than 18 hours since Rory was on the blower from London telling me to hop on the next flight out of Tokyo to London, and here I am, back in my flat, jetlagged and dreading work tomorrow. My homecoming is largely because Hari is making good progress, and with the right medication could be up and running again in a couple of months. No call to replace him, then, but it's equally impractical for London to be without me for all that time. So one of the futures traders in Tokyo has come on board for a short secondment.

And now, as I said, I'm back. It should be a cheery occasion. There's a bundle of mail to plough through, and the answerphone's blinky little red light means there are at least a few messages. But somehow there's nothing sadder than coming back to a place that's been abandoned in a hurry and left empty for 10 days. For a start, the flat is filled with vases of dead lilies. (Every Sunday morning, I zoom off to the flower market in Columbia Rad with pounds 30 in my pocket and I don't go home until I've spent it all.)

Second, there's the depressing state of the inside of my fridge. It gets restocked once a week, after my trip to Columbia Road, so for a day or so it looks pretty wonderful. What it gets restocked with isn't so good: mushroom pizza, ready-prepared Thai meals, individual steamed sponge puddings, anything else instant. But I don't have the energy to cook at the end of the day, so it's either that or eating out. I don't order take-aways anymore, not since the local pizza delivery service sent Christmas cards to its best customers and I was one of them.

Anyway, as I said, after two weeks of neglect, the fridge is looking pretty forlorn. There's nothing in it except:

1) half a lemon, wrapped in cling film and covered with green mould with white edges. It's actually quite an interesting colour, and it might be worth sending it to Dulux as a possible paint shade, but it certainly doesn't look edible.

2) three half bottles of vintage Veuve Clicquot. Unfortunately, I was so bored on the flight that I ended up drinking far more champagne than I meant to and will soon have a hangover to prove it. So the sight of the stuff currently makes me hideously queasy.

3) a bottle of Polish vodka, frozen immovably into the ice box along with a small plastic container of leftover soup, which will stay there for three or four months until I chip it out and bin it.

4) one small pack of ready-prepared wild mushroom risotto, a week past its use-by date. Quite apart from that, this is not what you want to eat after 10 days in the Far East, where no meal is considered complete unless it includes rice, not even breakfast if you're not careful. I'll never forget the guest house near Nikko national park that a crowd of us visited at the weekend, where they gave us cold pickled fried egg as well.

And that's it. So it looks as if it'll have to be take-away after all, and I phone through my order to the local Lebanese restaurant, whose chef is guaranteed to raise my spirits with his cooking. While I wait for it to be delivered, I settle down to the post. No personal letters at all, but then I never write any, I only ever send e-mails. A few bills, nothing too terrible. And lots of leaflets from financial organisations wanting to lend me money, although, funnily enough, they never wanted to lend me the stuff when I was a student and actually needed it.

So I turn to the answerphone: three messages from my mother, increasingly puzzled by my failure to call her back; someone from BT wanting me to sign up for some discount scheme or other; one wrong number; two out-of- date invitations; and this...

"Hello, this is Nippon Tucker restaurant here. Thank you for entering our competition on your last visit. I'm delighted to tell you that you've won our first prize of a long weekend for two... in Tokyo."

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