'I'm not Egon Ronay!' I wanted to cry. 'I eat over the sink so I won't have to wash any dishes'

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Last Saturday, instead of wiling away the hours trying to find enough change for another foul alcoholic imitation lemon drink with the girls in Camden's finest hell hole, I was in a five-star hotel in Ireland by myself. I was writing a travel piece, having begged the editor to "get me the hell out of London". When I got on the cocktail-sized Ryanair plane, I hadn't even bothered to find out where in Ireland I was going.

As it happens, I found myself in Dublin, met by a chauffeur. In the two- hour drive to the secret location, the nice man asked me a) if I wanted the air conditioning on ("yes, please"), b) did I want it off, now? ("yes, please"), c) did I know that Daniel Day-Lewis is a regular guest? ("ay carumba"). I hoped and prayed he would still be there or, if not, that there would at least be some pregnant parlour maids to suggest that he had stayed recently.

We pulled up a winding drive to a vast stone house. It was, I'm certain, the mansion from North by Northwest. Beautiful and luxurious as my room was, I did sit up all night waiting for Martin Landau to burst in and pour a bottle of whiskey down my throat. It would make a change from Grace spilling Hooch on my dress. No such luck. And no Dan, unless he had cunningly disguised himself as a very elderly South African golfing enthusiast. I did get briefly excited when I discovered the Jack Nicholson Room. Surely, in there, I would find some girls my own age to talk to. But it was Jack Nicklaus, apparently a golfer of some repute. Don't worry. I don't know who Ruud Gullit is. But I like his name.

Actually, I had a very nice time. I walked around the rose garden and rode horses and swam in a revolting pink one-piece that I had to buy because I left my Raquel Welch bikini at home. I had breakfast in bed and chocolates laid out on my pillow at night. I painted my toenails and read Truman Capote. Even not being able to sleep was more relaxing than in London. Insomnia is more fun in a bedroom other than your own. And there were new, interesting things to scare me at night, such as creepy oil portraits of pale children in velvet gowns. And maple wardrobes. Wardrobes? Well, it seemed pretty spooky at the time. Until I imagined it was Daniel Day-Lewis researching his role as a wardrobe in an upcoming Michael Mann movie about passion, revenge and furniture in 17th-century Dublin.

Actually, the really scary thing was eating by myself on Saturday night. I always eat by myself. Cornflakes, Marmite on toast, ice-cream - as much of the tub as I can manage in one go, because we don't have a freezer. I eat alone because I am neither a culinary sophisticate nor remotely rewarding to feed. There are only two heterosexual men I am truly friends with and I know this because they are the only ones I don't mind having dinner with. It's not just that they are better conversationalists. It is because if, nightmare of nightmares, some spaghetti falls ... out of my mouth ... on to my lap ... I know they won't point and laugh hysterically and call the police. I really hate people watching me eat. At the five- star hotel, they didn't watch. They just stared, like hawks. The waitresses had obviously been told that I was reviewing. They thought I was someone important. "I'm not Egon Ronay!" I wanted to cry, "I'm a schmendrick who eats over the sink so I won't have to wash any dishes!"

And the food! Five courses. A sorbet between the starter and main course. Fish with a different fish inside and weird, unidentified green bits on top. I don't know what they were, so you have to trust me, they were weird. For dessert - holy, sacred, most dear to my heart desert, which should be a BIG CHOCOLATE CAKE or some ICE-CREAM or a BOUNTY BAR - I had to eat alcohol-soaked biscuits on vanilla-pod ice-cream in a pool of creme anglaise and raspberry coulis, with extra cream and berries on stalks. This was not easy for me. I don't like different foods to touch each other and, by the end, I was almost in tears. In fact, I retired to my boudoir, where I ordered a cheese and tomato sandwich and waited with glistening eyes for the next Saturday and a night having Hooch spilt on me down the pub.

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