In our living room, at the front of a north-facing flat, I can hear birdsong. But in the bedroom, at the back of the house, I fall asleep and wake to the same sound each day: it begins as a soft whistle, blowing through the clouds, neither birdlike nor mechanical in character. Gradually, its pitch develops into a bassy rumble, a rolling growl and finally, four or five seconds later, fades altogether.
After 20 seconds, the whistling begins again and the little tune repeats. Never so loud as to actually disrupt thoughts, or stop me from dropping off, the sound of Boeings and Airbuses sighing and groaning in the sky as they glide into Heathrow isn't entirely unpleasant. But still, it's a small relief when at 11.30pm, the sound halts.
The first plane of the day, meanwhile, wakes me at 6.30am, although those living in Wandsworth report a route overhead begins at 4.30am – and the proposed 30 per cent increase in night flights would surely mean a similarly brutal start to the day. On the scale of noise pollution, with Sipson residents enduring a high of 10, our spot on the Heathrow flight path registers a level two. But that, Geoff Hoon, is enough for me.
Fergus's just deserts
Congratulations to chef Fergus Henderson, who has just received his first Michelin star for St John, his austerely all-white restaurant just a pig's carcass's throw from Smithfield Market in London. A rule-beaker and innovator, as well as a natural wit, Henderson opened St John in 1994 with a philosophy of "nose-to-tail" cuisine – in other words, the consumption of all the bits of a beast, from gelatinous trotters to crispy ears.
I've eaten some strange but delicious platefuls there – I remember an alarmingly tender roast kid – and some plain delicious ones, like a simple starter of soft-boiled gull's eggs, sprinkled with celery salt. The dining experience is refreshingly free of frills and furbelows: tablecloths are plain paper, wine glasses stubby-stemmed.
The inspectors have obviously been chewing the fat on this one for a while – St John has been a notable Michelin oversight for many years. "I never really expected it," Henderson said on the phone yesterday, with his usual amiable modesty, "They usually go more for white linen and 15 glasses on a table." Will the star change St John? "Well, maybe we'll put more glasses on the table, more doodahs." Please don't!
Come on Kate, get with it
Yesterday was supposed to be the most depressing day of the year. But I spared a thought for Kate Moss, right, who was presumably nursing a bad hangover after her three-day medieval-themed birthday bender in St John's Wood, attended by Meg Mathews, Sadie Frost and the police (twice called out to turn the music down). Girls don't get more fashionable than Moss. But that guest-list, the Cristal, the bacchanalia – it's so 2005.Reuse content