Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 9 March 2012

Now as hotels go the five star GRANGE TOWER HILL does not get a rosette from me.

I knew there would be a less than sensational meal when, having parked the car in the square behind the hotel, I saw all the chefs hanging around, outside the kitchen, smoking for England.

I met an old friend who bought me a vodka and orange , she had a gin and tonic. I don't normally drink shorts but I had a presentiment about the evening, so I downed mine in one long gulp. Two drinks came to 11.00. I'm told thats London prices.... Really?

We hugged goodbye and I lined up to sign in and find out which table I was sitting at. Number seventeen.

Up in the glass lift into the 'Funny Women's' 10th Anniversary reception. I was hungry and was really looking forward to the canapes.

Loads of women were milling about, one had a balloon manifestation on her head and a tank of air strapped round her waist. She was making balloon bits for the guests. I asked whether there was helium in her tank.

'No just air.' she shrieked then turned her nozzle on me and let off a blast of wind in my face.

I found a seat on a small settee and nibbled on the five star canapes. Bowls of green and black pitted olives, the black ones having been dyed with squid ink, and bowls of Japanese crackers. I ferreted out the little chili circles and stocked up on green peanuts.

I took my seat at the big round table on the edge of the room. Ms Balloonia sat opposite me, we were sharing it with 6 other strangers.

The table was already laid with a bowl of salad overlaid with three pieces of dry chicken. The cucumber had already started to sweat. A bowl of tzatziki was hidden next to a bowl of more squiddy olives and a selection of pickled gherkins.

Four 'FEMMES ON THE THAMES' sung a 'Beatles' medley to a piano accompaniment concluding with 'I WILL SURVIVE.' which by this stage in the evening felt highly unlikely. I took out my mobile telephone, made sure it had a signal and started texting Gods Gift, always a bad sign in the middle of an event.

As the 'Four Femmes' fled the room to a smattering of applause our starters were delivered. Waiters chucked baskets of pitta bread at us and slid plates of hummus, taramasalata and a mystery dip in front of us. The hummus had a skin on top and I swear the pink, fishy taramasalata was feeding on itself.

I felt queasy.

Kate Garraway hosted the evening, at least I think it was her I could hardly see her from where I was sitting. The first of the stand-ups started her set as the main meal landed. Waiters and managerial bodies threw batches of oily chips, skewers of kebabs and plates of giant fish fingers at us. Not a smile in sight, only sweaty waiters trying to get the food down as quickly as possible. The reception room took on the aroma of the 'Kebabulance', a custom made ambulance with a kitchen grill, which is parked outside the fire station near The River Uck. Their kebabs are great after an evening on the lash but I had only had one V&O, a Japanese chili cracker and a sip of Cava,

Unsurprisingly I missed pudding.

I left, was interviewed about humour and asked what made me laugh, I told them my husband of 38 years, and was handed a goodie bag which contained one tube of mascara, the details of the 'Four Femmes' and a little bag of tampons for which I am too old. Jim could use them as ear plugs only I worry in case they swell in his earholes.

I left and walked back to my car.

Drove down St. Marks Street, the location of my first home, down the Whitechapel Road and into Bethnal Green to deliver a package to B. She crouched down to my window, kissed me and I double backed past Stepney Green, towards the Blackwall Tunnel.

I arrived home at 9.58.

When I awoke this morning I had a swollen ankle, so bad that my 'oosbind cancelled his golf game and administered ice-packs, pain killers, beans on toast, more ice and strapped me up with bondage bandage.

RICE: Rest, ice, compression and elevation. I learnt that at 4.00a.m. this morning when the pain woke me up and I researched sprained ankles.

Now, at 22.08 the swelling is down and the pain has gone, Louise Hay says that ankle injuries represent mobility and direction. Sprains, anger and resistance may represent not wanting to move in a certain direction in life, had I known that yesterday I may well have stayed at home.

Jeni Barnett tells of her scrumptious time at Good Food Live in her first audiobook! Download NOW from iTunes

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