Farewell to a much loved stomping ground

A couple of months after I moved to London, I discovered my good friend and old singing partner CC had moved down too and started working for a global communications and media relations agency. As far as I could tell, the advantage of working for a global organisation’s London office was that in order to properly host important clients, one had to have a bar. A subsidised bar sitting at the bottom of your building.

Over the past eighteen months, this particular bar has become something of a Friday night stomping ground, the scene of dramas, the source of romances, the origin of the occasional personal scandal.

And, because CC has moved on to new and greater things, the time came when we would have to say goodbye. Her colleagues were sad to see her go, but it only really dawned on me just before Christmas that I’m sad she’s going too because Friday nights would never EVER be the same again – where are we going to play out now?

In my mind, this bar on a Friday night, is like a cross between the school disco, the best night you’ve ever had in your life, the coffee shop in Friends, the bar in Cheers, a musical extravaganza with dancing girls and sequins, the most intimate dinner for two… It’s like a scene from a musical where everyone you know and love seems to be in the same room, singing, cheering, wearing outrageous outfits, looking gorgeous. Where a drama could happen, comedy, tragedy and a happy ever after, all in one night. In short, it’s hard to describe.

My last night was a classic example of everything I’ve loved about this bar.

First, I was there with CC but we hardly spoke to each other all night, since we were both working the room separately. This is great for story swapping the next day.

Second, I didn’t buy a single drink (though not for want of trying). My second drink was bought for me by a complete stranger, who offered the guy I was talking to a drink. He had a full bottle, so I rather cheekily said ‘You can buy me one if you like.’ When he duly returned with a glass in hand for me, my friend RH turned to me and said ‘Do you even know him?!’
‘Nope,’ I replied, and turning to the guy I was talking to I asked ‘Who is he?’
‘He’s my boss actually…’

So third, I don’t work there so I can get away with being cheeky – after all I could be a client… I got asked at least twice, which bit of the company I worked for, which is a neverending source of delight for me. I love the fact that I’m a familiar face, but don’t work there. I like it when people assume I’m one of their colleagues from a different floor. And I like it that I’ve been told I can visit any time. I’ve been such a frequenter of this particular bar, that Colin, the man on the front desk, told me as I arrived, that I would always be welcome once CC had left, and that he’d happily let me in. AND I could bring a friend if I liked. That is what I call making a good impression.

Fourth, you never know who you are going to meet. A bit of a flirtation with a complete stranger one night, could lead to a full date later. The possibilities are endless. And since other non-employees also visit the bar, there’s an ever-changing clientele.

Fifth, I was reminded that I’ve met some hilarious people in the past two years and made some great friends, not just in this bar, although this has been a highlight. I met CC’s friend DH in this bar, and I believed he was a biscuit designer, for a good hour, before he confessed his true occupation. Everything is possible in this particular place.

I feel a little bit wistful about CC’s leaving, but she’s not leaving my life just yet! There’ll be new grounds to stomp, new friends to meet and make, and no doubt the old friends will be coming with us too.

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