We’ve been invited to the Chase Visa VIP longue (along with every other cardholder). I snag the last two reservations for Iron Chef Morimoto’s Culinary Event -9:45 on 8-1. We’re advised to wear smart casual wear and stay no more than an hour. A Cartan Host Googles the address, 116 Pall Mall, and prints a map for us – we’re off and as Tube masters we have no trouble transferring from Jubilee to Bakerloo for the Charing Cross Station. We see many Team GB tee shirted fans and an exhausted looking family with British flag decals on their cheeks. They brighten when I ask if they have been to an event – they’ve been to Men’s Gymnastics – an event their six-year-old daughter will remember all her life the Mum assures me. It’s beginning to feel like an Olympics.
Once at the station, we confirm our impression that those who can direct you underground do not know the outside world. “Just go up and have a look round until you see Pall Mall,” says the guard. Bob thinks she has said go left. She decides that we are incompetent or that she is being filmed for a prank show and graciously leads us to the exit.
It’s Trafalgar Square; Lord Nelson’s monument looms above us as we have a look round. The next guard points us straight ahead. We remain calm and carry on. It’s pretty dark once we leave the square and we can’t see any street names. We do encounter 3 young men in smart attire, consulting their smart phones and a flummoxed bus line person about the location of 116 Pall Mall. “That’s where we’re going,” I say and hand the bus guy my map. His face clears and he points us to a street to the left. The boys hustle off; either upset to have technology trumped by paper or appalled to learn that they are going to the same place as people who could be their grandparents.
Once on Pall Mall, there is no question about our destination, it’s ablaze with miniature Olympic torches. Our names our on the guest list, we get VIP badges and are admitted even though it’s 9:40. They limit attendance to 100 an hour, but enough people have left to provide easy access to the free food and drink. Many of the Chinese dishes have been exhausted, but the sushi is excellent and the Western foods include crispy rare-in-the-center lamb chops that are the best we’ve ever had, beef tenderloin, Chef Morimoto’s version of mac and cheese, salads and vegies. The VIPs stand about looking smart, but there isn’t much interaction except for the blond who flirts vigorously with the waiter while her chubby companion is at the bar.
Athletes visit the longue from 2-4 daily. We’re sorry to have missed Carl Lewis and (Nadia of gymnastics fame whose name I can’t spell), but may try to see Kerri Scuugs on Sat.
Liz ( I’ve been forgetting to sign these)