"I buy myself a copy of the Evening Standard and shelter in the Red Lion on Derby Gate*... The barman fills my glass. 'For another five quid you can have the whole bottle', he tempts me. It is impolite to decline, even though its a sticky and heavy Australian Chardonnay that I would usually reject**. In a few hours, the pub - a fulcrum between Treasury, Foreign Office ans Department of Health - will be rammer with civil servants, special advisers and MPs. Now, just after the lunchtime crush, it contains only a few of us running away from our lives", Giles Peck
The nutcase that I am, I go to Red Lion Parliament Street on a dry January 22nd, Monday lunch. Without any hope of overhearing any Parliamentary gossip - it's obviously the wrong time of the day, probably the wrong day of the week, possibly the wrong month of the year and very likely the wrong year of the wrong century. After all, it's about 28 years, some 9 months and around 20 days after Gil Peck's visit to the landmark tavern.
A black board pricked outside the pub reading "Dry January? Try Asahi super dry, dry cider martini or dry white wine" makes me laugh.
The bright and crystal-mirror shiny pub, surprises me with a large display of Dry-January nut casses similar to me in their tea and water drinking. Similar, yet not identical, as here too, bottled watter is trending.... when I drink tap. Whilst, I love Perrier, I never drink the thing when outside of France. Elsewhere it doesn't have the same taste nor effect. Just like, I imagine, I could fall in love with weed, if only I was smoking it in Jamaica; in most other countries it's either too cold, too dry or too gloomy for a positive weed experience. In Bulgaria, I drink bottled water half of the time, but there are several hundreds of thousands of mineral springs there; all the bottled water is local. Plenty of it of only few miles away. Water 💧 what a lovely January subject.
The excellent Asian bartender doesn't blink an eye when I order green tea - there are at least four more people on the ground floor, and I later on count another seven upstairs in the dining room, drinking tea and water; and only the Scandinavian nutter couple next table drinks Coke on ice, they must be missing the glaciers plenty.
The Crispy Gressingham Duck arrives just on time to save me from the anguishing doubt of "Shouldn't I better had 'The Tasting Board of three award- winning mini pies and three award-winning ales'". Nevermind that I don't like ales, nor I am much into pies. Yet, pie and ale sounds much more 1994 London than green tea and crisp duck. The gorgeous plate is exactly what I don't expect to be served in a pub, be it on Parliament Street, and exactly what I would like to see in any hospital canteen, but is missing in all in January 2022. It is a light-green ocean of fresh salad - Chinese cabbage, spring onions, hot red 🌶 peppers and honey roasted nuts washed in a zingy lime-shower - at the edge of which a small island of hot crispy duck leg is perched. Who would have thought? Who would have thought... Healthy, sensible, deliciously homey food at Parliament Street.
Next to the window a ginger bearded man with a ginger dog drinks a beer and occasionally goes out to smoke. Thanks God there are still people doing the right things at the right places. Soon London might turn too healthy for its own good... on the image of all the nouveau rich that inhabit it.
Having said nouveau rich I am thinking, Giles Peck will surely not mind if I share my thoughts on the, now not so New, Labour; which is basically one of the protagonists of his Whistle-Blower. And what I think at the Red Lion is that now it's a big time for Labour to change their name as their nothing working or labouring about them. What should they be called?
Something composed, as it is now fashionable, parties, unlike pop stars to have long phrases en lieu of names.
'Amazon' should certainly be.a composant of the new New Labour's name - as every single Labour supporters or activist that I know shops on Amazon and for some reason loves to underline it in all conversation.
'Bellicose' is another must, as the New Labour loves warlords like Phony Fair, sorry Tony Blair, and despises children, else to speak sex, makers as Boris Johnson. Thus, the new bourgeoisie is completely in the footsteps of the old bourgeoisie and it's unhealthy attitude to sex and war - timid with the first, flirty with the second.
Thus, 'Avanti Bellicose Amazon' I think is a mighty suitable new name for the new New Labour, the one of the knighted Phony Fair.
* don't ask me why Red Lion on Derby Gate is at Parliament Street.
**and that for some strange association reminds me of David Mellor's disgust at the notion of 'cheap wine' when talking about N10 Lockdown parties.
22nd January 2022