Have you read Dolly Alderton’s Everything I Know About Love? It made me appreciate friendship, which I think I’m rather good at appreciating, but it put all the cherries on top. Aptly, it was given to me by one of my closest friends, Rowlo. We mark our anniversary, we send each other post - you know, actual post that requires Kevin the postman to actually come to my door, which he definitely loves.
I’ve banged on about her before and I’ll bang on again - she deserves all the accolades. Her Achilles heel, in my vegan eyes, is that she’s not vegan, but she is 100% committed to being a great friend and so, when we meet up, she’s as vegan as Miley Cyrus. (She would probably rather I say she is as vegan as Beyonce but Beyonce isn’t vegan enough. There’s a celeb scale as Miley is at the top.)
Rowlo is good at life. She will need have no regrets when she reaches her last day on Earth, because she lived a life of excellence - always saying yes, always experiencing, always smiling, always so generous that her paycheck doesn’t make it to the end of the month. She would rather be skint and generous, than rich and bored.
Last year, to celebrate our friendship’s ten year anniversary, Rowlo and I met up in London for a weekend of congratulating ourselves on how much we love each other.
As London is Rowlo’s village and I’m a country bumpkin now, not qualified to make any decisions in a city so overwhelming, Rowlo organised vegan afternoon tea at Egerton House Hotel. She found it, booked it, called to check that when they said vegan, they meant it, because we didn’t want to accidentally eat ham sandwiches.
“We’re going to gram the shit out of this,” she announced as we arrived. “On it,” I replied, taking 27 photos of some lilies in the hallway. As Rowlo says, if it doesn’t go on Instagram, did it even happen?
The waiter explained how, as vegans, we should always opt for Chablis, as the way it’s made guarantees it’s vegan by default, unlike other wines which can be filtered through isinglass (aka fish bladders) or have eggs and milk added (WTF! First you take my crisps, then you take my freedom!)
I think he said Chablis. We were soon on our second bottle and information, so easily trickling through the fingertips of my memory at the best of times, was quickly becoming hard to hold on to. Merlot - always order Merlot - got it. Thanks for the advice, our new best friend!
The scones were amazing, the coconut-cream based ‘butter’ was heavenly, sandwiches of Coronation chickpeas were so good we sent for more, before devouring various calorific treats which made the seams of my dress feel strangely restrictive. Someone must have sneaked into my life and swapped the dress for a smaller size while I was busy ordering the waiter to take another photo of his favourite ever guests.
Sozzled in ways you could deem a bit much for the afternoon, Rowlo ordered an Uber, which was exciting as I don’t have an account but enjoy trying to get my city friends five stars for exemplary car rider-ship. We made our way to Harrods. I needed to get a photo of us in the toy department because, as I told the Uber driver, MY MUM WORKED HERE IN THE 60s. What she’d really appreciate is a photo of her day-drunk daughter leaning on some Lego. In the end, I made Rowlo do the posing and Mum was appropriately enthused.
I started to wane. I needed an early night, fear creeping in that I’d have a hangover that might last TWO days and fill me with self-loathing and Paranoid Paula flashbacks of regret. We returned to her flat, where I mentioned that a friend of mine was throwing a house-party but we were probably too tired, weren’t we?
Rowlo’s eyes lit up. How could I possibly contemplate going to bed when my own brother was at this party and how often was I in London - or indeed anywhere - at the same time as him, my hero?
Good point. Hangover be damned. I’d drink through it, I told myself.
It was no ordinary house party, on account of the fact my friend is a massive media-luvvy whose house parties actually have production teams and bouncers on the door, which Rowlo kept reminding me was absolutely, wonderfully not normal. And so it was that the next six hours of our lives were not spent sipping herbal tea and sleeping, as per my intentions, and instead, hanging out with my brilliant nephews, leaning too close to my nephew’s 15 year old girlfriend while gesticulating madly about how pointless it is to smoke cigarettes, drinking £5 white wine straight from the bottle and telling my brother that I loved him. There was dancing, there was a giant birthday cake and thespians who I became best mates with for the night, certain I’d never met anyone I had more in common with than these city-living extroverts in cravats. Oh, and Jarvis Cocker was DJing, in my friend’s back garden, which Rowlo again assured me was absolutely, wonderfully not normal.
At one point, Jarvis was standing on his own while everyone around him acted like it was no big deal that he was in a back garden in Dalston and I, Kim of Wiltshire, thought it might be nice to go talk to him, because he looked like he really needed someone to tell him Common People was her husband’s favourite song, but I was too busy doing shots of Tequila with my sister’s ex-boyfriend, telling my brother I loved him and declaring that I was never going to go to bed and hangovers are for wimps.
Paranoid Paula arrived a few hours later, right on cue.