Tag Archives: breakfast


My friend has started running. More accurately, my friend has started re-running. I was there when she started running, whilst we were teaching in South Korea. Myself, and another friend, woke up early and went for a run before breakfast most days. ‘Stop excluding me,’ our friend whined. ‘It’s not exclusive,’ we pointed out. ‘I want to join your club,’ she insisted. Perhaps there was something in it.

To join our ‘run club’ (it wasn’t a club, or anything approaching one, but nowadays any time you do anything not alone, people want to make it seem like a hobby), all you had to do was set your alarm. Set your alarm, get dressed, leave your room. We met at the end of the corridor, and set off at 6.30am. We’d tried a number of different routes, but generally ran the best one: left out of the school, past the empty parking lot, and up the hill. You ran past vineyards and farms and occasional bewildered locals, and state-sponsored outdoor public gym equipment and broken cars, abandoned to rust. We stopped at the top, to look down on the city, and then returned, exactly the way we came. By the time we arrived back at school, it was 7.40am, and we had just enough time to shower and dress before breakfast.

The day our friend decided to join us, we left 5 minutes late, because we wasted a great deal of time falling about laughing at her running outfit. But there was still plenty of time to get up the hill and back, we assured her. ‘A hill?’ she asked, in a tone that suggested to me great enthusiasm and delight. ‘Yes,’ I agreed. ‘It’s great.’

We set off, adjusting our pace a little to let our friend settle in. We had been running for approximately 8 minutes, just enough time to reach the first of the vineyards, when she stopped. ‘Are you OK?’ we shouted down at her. ‘Yes,’ she said. ‘I think I’m going to go back.’ ‘OK,’ we said. We were not the type of runners to pay much attention to other people. At that point in the Summer, I had already bumped into several Korean children, failing to adjust where I was looking for any one shorter than me as I ran about.

We finished our run, returned to our rooms and met each other again at breakfast. After breakfast, I realized that my other friend had a text-book I wanted, and knocked on her door to get it back. There was no answer, so I opened her door, rifled through her stuff until I found the book, and left to start my class. (We started each morning with a small rap performance by myself. There are now at least 20 South Korean junior nurses who can give you a detailed explanation of the relative merits of 90s rappers, as well as a sampling of their lyrical output).

My friend popped his head round my classroom at break-time. ‘You seen her?’ he asked. ‘No-one else has.’ I stared at him in horror. It was true, that most mornings our friend brought her class into mine, to enjoy my rapping. I had thought that maybe she was setting up a rival performance in her own classroom, and had really given that day’s show my all.

She arrived back at the end of break-time, rushing in to another of the classrooms to ask for taxi money. It took a while for her to explain what had happened, mostly because I couldn’t really hear her over the sound of my face breaking from laughing. To this day, the facts are hazy: she got lost, or perhaps she wanted to support the local economy, or her ballet slippers proved not to be the perfect running shoes she had hoped they would be.

Anyway, she’s started running again, which just goes to show that people will do absolutely anything to get into my club.

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Avoiding questions and breakfast

Apparently at some, presumably Left Bank Parisian dinner parties, it is the height of rudeness to ask someone what they do. People talk rather about politics, and religion, and interesting movies, and everyone goes home feeling revived and invigorated after such a bracing dousing in the lives of others.

I suppose the French, always the leaders in this sort of thing, have realized that talking about other people’s jobs is tiresome. Equally, discovering that someone is a corporate lawyer really tells one very little about who that person actually is, apart from rich. (Which is, in itself, useful, but tricky to capitalize on at a dinner party).

It is for this reason (as well as a blinding and all-consuming lack of interest in other people) that I never ask people what they do. At an event last night, I noticed that other people still do. The trouble for me, I have realized, is that I can’t think in broad strokes. ‘An attention to detail,’ I pointed out to my little sister. ‘Is a wonderful thing.’ ‘No one cares what you had for breakfast,’ she replied, proving once again that she shouldn’t be allowed out to meet new people.

‘What do you do?’ someone asked me yesterday. I paused, but mostly because I was scanning the room quickly to check if my little sister was in earshot. ‘Well,’ I began happily. ‘There wasn’t any milk, so I had a cup of peppermint tea…’

Politics, religion and breakfast. Sometimes it’s quite tricky to be such a Left Bank darling.

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Breakfast is pointless

I don’t really see the point of breakfast.
Looking at it from science, my go-to looking-companion in moments like these, it makes no sense whatsoever. Yes, you haven’t eaten since dinner. If you had spent the following time walking about, or pretending to be working, or fighting off imaginary attackers, as in a recent gym class I went to completely accidentally (I was looking for what I had been told was an extremely relaxing and effort-free yoga class, but wasn’t concentrating), then feeding oneself would be a real and pressing issue. But in the interim all you have done is sleep. You have eaten food, and then gone to sleep. The occasional loo trip aside, sleeping doesn’t require a great deal of energy. If you were waking up at the crack of dawn to perform a full day’s worth of manual labour, breakfast might have some purpose. But many more of you are eating breakfast than even the most generous estimate of existing 1830’s tithe farmers.

The perilous existentialism of breakfast aside, I’m not very good at it. The only breakfast food I like, really, is that made by someone else. Otherwise breakfast seems to me to be the most mealy-mouthed and sullen of meals- every bite taken being a stolen moment of being blissfully asleep. My former flatmate was terrific at breakfast. I used to gaze at her enviously in the morning, peacefully eating her porridge whilst catching up on all the celebrity gossip she had missed whilst asleep. (You have no idea the sheer quantity of newsworthy things famous people are able to get up to whilst the rest of us are asleep. It’s almost as if they don’t have to get up in the morning). For her, breakfast was a tranquil preamble to the rest of her day. For me, it’s a time-consuming irritant which once nearly set my kitchen on fire.

‘There is absolutely no point to breakfast,’ I told my colleague crossly this morning. ‘Of course not,’ He replied. ‘Is that why you’re eating your lunch at 9.45am?’

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I hate orange juice

I was taken to breakfast at the Dean Street Townhouse this morning. In an abrupt, and hypocritical volte-face, I have recently decided that I simply love going out for breakfast. ‘Shall we meet for a breakfast or lunch?’ A nice lady emailed me last week. ‘Breakfast sounds great,’ I emailed back quickly. She chose the restaurant, and put herself firmly in my good books by setting our breakfast for 9.30am. I cycled there, so arrived nicely sweaty. I’ve never been to the Dean Street Townhouse before, but it’s glorious.

I was early (what with the cycling and all), so I quickly sat down in one of their armchairs and ordered a vat of water. ‘Would you like any juice?’ The waiter asked. ‘I hate orange juice,’ I replied firmly. ‘Um,’ The waiter stammered politely in utter confusion.

‘That’s OK. You don’t have to have orange juice.’ ‘Did you know that orange juice is the world’s most popular juice?’ I asked him fiercely. ‘No,’ He replied. ‘That’s very interesting.’ ‘Some people hate coriander,’ I continued. ‘But I hate orange juice.’ The waiter, to give him his due, had stopped frantically trying to make eye contact with his colleagues, and was quietly looking at me with pleading eyes. ‘We have apple juice and fresh grapefruit juice,’ He whispered. ‘Ooh,’ I replied. ‘I’ll have both. Thanks very much.’

It was unfortunate that my apple juice arrived first, so that I had to drink my grapefruit juice in front of my host, who handily had arrived after my little contretemps with the waiter, and was fairly puzzled when it took us a little while to track him down to order again.

Often, restaurants tell you they serve fresh juice, when what they mean by ‘fresh’ is ‘recently poured out of a carton’. The Dean Street Townhouse is not one of those places. My grapefruit juice was delicious, and so fresh that I found the occasional pip floating in it- which I politely spat onto my napkin. ‘It’s very good,’ My host said. ‘But there are pips. Why not try the orange juice?’

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Ask Jeeves

I was awake at 6am last Sunday. I didn’t want to be awake. I didn’t even really want to be alive. I lay in the dark, wondering what I had done to deserve such punishment. ‘All I want,’ I thought to myself feebly. ‘Is someone to bring me a glass of water and a cold flannel.’ I wondered who would be kind enough to help me. ‘No-one would be kind enough to help me,’ I moaned to myself pitifully. ‘But I would give someone every penny I had for a cold flannel on my aching head.’ Which is when I finally realised. ‘All I need,’ I whispered softly into the silence. ‘Is a butler.’

I would like to take this opportunity to advertise for a butler.

This is a very good job. Your day will begin at 9am (but you only need to be awake, and certainly not dressed or coherent. I am an equal opportunities employer). It would be nice if you brought me some breakfast, but any food you can locate will suffice. The rest of the day will vary, but most of the time, you will be treated to lightness and whimsy, as I try out new comedic material on you.

(Some of this will be offensive, and it will be part of your job to tell me which parts are. Ironically, this will not offend me in the slightest). In the evening, I will cook. If I go out for dinner, I will leave you some money so you can order a take-away. (I do not want a skinny butler. I do not trust them).

Your only real responsibilities begin at bedtime. During the night, I have a habit of kicking off my sheet, duvet and pillows. I would like you to retrieve these for me. But not in a scary way. Try to make yourself as unobtrusive as possible. No-one wants to wake up with someone leering over them holding a pillow.

On Saturday and Sunday mornings, I would like you to pop into my room from 6am onwards with a cold flannel and a promise that ‘this too shall pass’. There is no need to do anything else on the weekend- I’ll scarcely remember you exist.

At present, this is an unpaid position. However, with such an excellent method of overcoming my hangovers, I imagine my productivity will soar. I would not be at all surprised if a few weeks down the line you are earning in excess of £14 a week. Obviously, as this point I will stop leaving you money for take-aways.



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In which I breakfast at the Wolseley

My friend sends me an email. ‘We should have breakfast tomorrow.’ I politely ignore the email. I wake up properly when Kris (the coolest of my builders) starts singing ‘She’s got electric boobs…Be Be Be Benny and the Jets.’ I think of things I can break in my room to keep the builders here forever.

I check my emails again. I have 27 new emails on this breakfast thread. My girlfriends have electronically meandered all over London, through cafe and restaurant, and decided upon the Wolseley. I like the Wolseley. I like my friends. I am quietly thinking of ways to drop my new breakfasting-at-the-Wolseley habits into conversation. ‘How are you?’ ‘I’m good thanks. I always find the Wolseley breakfast really sets one up for the day.’ I realise why I don’t talk to people who breakfast at the Wolseley. I get one final email. ‘OK, great. Let’s meet there at 7.20am.’ I wonder why my friends hate me. I go to discuss this with Kris the builder, who tells me that we have run out of toilet paper. I realise that it might not be so normal to be a ‘we’ with your builder. I should probably go to breakfast.

I cycle to Oxford Circus. This takes 15mins. I then spend 15mins cycling up and down three  one-way streets between Piccadilly and Oxford Circus. I pass Mahiki so many times I start to believe I should just breakfast there. I arrive, late, and am nearly run over by taxis as I lock my bike outside the Wolseley. I imagine people think I’m some sort of Zuckerberg type, and their looks of incredulity are a response to this. I blunder into the Wolseley.

It is important in these types of establishments to look as if one belongs. I achieve this by slinging my coat onto the floor, opening the menu and saying loudly. ‘How on EARTH can they charge £11 for a bagel. This is ridiculous.’ My friends say nothing. I realise I must act quickly to preserve my impossibly-young-impossibly-wealthy-disguise. ‘I mean, obviously I can afford it.’ I look for a waiter. ‘I would like a large- yes, the more expensive one, glass of apple juice. I will be ordering more later.’ I can see he is impressed with my nochalant ordering skills. He quietly picks up my coat. I begin to look at the menu, and wonder if I can steal toilet paper from their loos.

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