Friday, February 22, 2008

We must do lunch, darling

I spent the day with an old colleague, a friend from Vogue House. We met when we were very young, willowy blondes, rushing around in black twinsets, pencil skirts & high heels, tending with the fierce dedication of youth to the important needs of the Very Important Men whom we assisted. Now she is something Very Important at a Very Important magazine and I, well, I write.

Today didn’t go quite as we had planned. Lunch was planned for 1pm at Mercer Kitchen in Soho. I chained up my bike around the corner from the restaurant, stumbling slightly over the cobbles in my heels as I stepped up to the entrance.

Seated on a rather nice corner banquette, facing into the room, I could see the truncated legs of other diners through the banisters as they came down the two flights of stairs into the basement room.

I thought I had spotted X’s glamorous legs when they suddenly disappeared; five seconds later there was a stupendous crash. The bottom of the stairs was hidden from view by staff, and I wasn’t sure what had happened. The whole restaurant was discreetly trying to look, but when no one appeared to get up, I became worried and got up to look, incurring disapproving glances from the next table who thought I was rubber necking.

I found X crouched on the floor, by a pool of blood, spitting out bits of teeth. The stairs had no treads and she had slipped down the second flight, falling head first and breaking her fall with her chin. Management, with prospective lawsuits swirling around their heads, called the EMTs, tended to her wounds and filled out forms.

The charming, over worked EMTs strapped us into a St Vincent’s ambulance, and took us to the ER. I now know for sure that American accident & emergency departments are not staffed by George Clooney and his ilk.

We spent all afternoon there. I was crazy with worry, but adopted a slightly scatty, babbling air, to try to cover up the extent of my concern.When they put X in a neck brace I started to get really worried. Fortunately her CAT scan showed a jaw fracture but no spinal injuries. She’s now been injected, prodded, sewn up, IV’d and examined, and I was relieved by our lovely friend O, who sat with her whilst the IV antibiotics & painkillers did their job. I had to eat. She’s been discharged and is, I hope, going to heal soon.

In a restaurant famous for its celeb clientele, I bet that was the most dramatic entrance they’ve ever seen.