The Savoy hotel: London's nicest cab rank. A glass roof, no blue- wool-coated salesmen dropping hamburger on your shoes, no geezers without taillights or insurance offering to take you home for a share of your mortgage, and, miracle of miracles, after our licensing hours have poured everyone on to the streets in one drunken howl, taxis.
Plus: built-in entertainment. I like the rich: they remind me that I have good taste. The Savoy heaves with them. Men in penguin suits trying to look like they've had a hard day breaking the general strike. Women whose faces glow with the sheen of face-cream with the word "baroness" in its branding, hair stiffened in salons, the flash of tulle and cut stones under their coats. All that money, and still they look like Jayne Torvill.
Luck smiles on us tonight. In front of us is a pair of beauties of 22, straight black hair pinned and sprayed into medusa curls on the backs of their heads. Through the revolving doors bursts a horde of Middle-Eastern matrons, identical purplish-blonde hair to which the word "big" could never be applied when there are words like "gargantuan", spangly things hanging off everything that sticks out, sober as judges but high as kites on sweet things and the liberty of being out at night without the old man.
They swarm over the girls like bears round honey. "Congratulations!" cries a fabulous old girl, 5ft tall, 18-stone bare-naked and 20 in her diamonds. "What's it like?" One of the girls looks down at the Harrods dress box under her arm. "Beige," she says, "With netting". Jonathan puts his hand over his mouth and nose. "And the ring?" Girl flashes a cluster of rocks that would keep a small glass-cutting factory in business for decades. Old girl nods approvingly. "Never trust a man," she says, "who's mean with jewellery."
I take a puff of my inhaler and she whirls round. "You're one of those, eh?" she grins, "My husband keeps me awake all night. All night!" "Tchac!" the woman next to her whirls her black eyeliner. "Men!" They go off into peals of laughter and yatter in Arabic (could be Farsi, my ear's not that good), prodding each other's arms and cackling.
The girls get into their cab, waved off with cries of goodwill and foreign- language ribaldry, and we are up next. We clamber in, settle down, and Jonathan says "Divine. Divine". Cab driver pulls slowly round the roundabout, head out of the window, shouting "mind the fur coats, ladies," and we head for Tulse Hill.Reuse content