Published 28 January 2007 News Review 706th article
A highly important telephone call came through to the London Clinic. They assured me it was from Lady Winner telling me that she wished to cook a meal for me.
I pointed out that, delightful as that may be, there was no Lord Winner nor was there a Lady Winner and therefore who was planning to cook the meal was a mystery.
It turned out the call came from Lady Ruth Rogers, co-owner of the River Cafe, who was very kindly offering me a cooked dinner! The River Cafe has unquestionably the most consistently good food to be had in London but I said, possibly ungraciously, "Thank you, no."
Because I have been living on a strange diet since entering the clinic, none of which is as grand as the River Cafe. You are offered a liquid called Ensure, which apparently is glowing with protein. Unfortunately I found it extraordinarily unpalatable.
After considerable discussion with Scott Marsden, the nutrition and dietetics director of the London Clinic, their kitchens came up with a very acceptable banana milkshake which I was assured had all the nutrition needed.
This was bolstered by visits to local shops and restaurants that Geraldine found and came back raving, or not raving, about one or another aspect of what they had to offer.
She was particularly impressed with Pain Quotidien on the corner of Marylebone High Street. This is an all-organic bakery and cafe, serving bread, cakes, croissants and soft-boiled eggs (perfection according to my chauffeur, Jim, when he had breakfast with her there).
She also greatly liked Patisserie Valerie, from where I would, from time to time, smuggle in a milkshake and even a marzipan pig and a mini chocolate cupcake.
The Wolseley kindly offered a free selection of their milkshakes so it was not uncommon for Jim to be there at 8 in the morning to bring me a vanilla one.
Another place which I have always rather doted on is Harry Morgan, which is on St John's Wood High Street. Even though, in general, I am no admirer of St John's Wood or its high street. For takeaways, I think it is superb. The chicken soup has the real flavour of mother's original home cooking and they also do a chicken broth which is extremely "rebuilding".
The London Clinic may not be No1 on everybody's list to go to eat. But I have frequently been highly impressed by the quality of its food, if not the manner in which it is served.
We eventually managed to get very good moist scrambled eggs, which were served from a large bowl with a fork. It is difficult enough to eat sitting up in bed under any circumstances, but when you're trying to eat soft scrambled eggs from a bowl with a fork, it is as near impossible as anything else can be.
Nevertheless, I'm used to being a messy eater so I don't think it surprised anybody in particular when scrambled eggs were liberally distributed all over me.
Scott, who worked previously in the NHS in Romford and Chelmsford, was extremely proud of the London Clinic Arabic menus. An example of four menus a day they offer customers. I haven't had it yet but I'm certainly going to give it a try! At that point, I'll know I've reached full recovery!
Assisting in my time of stress is my long-term girlfriend, Geraldine Lynton-Edwards (a fine photographer whose pictures have been admired many times in this newspaper), and the former Miss Great Britain Dinah May, who's been my assistant for more than 20 years.
Unfortunately, from time to time, they feel the need to leave me and eat. They particularly liked Langan's Bistro, which was very helpful. They tried an Italian restaurant called Getti on Marylebone High Street but didn't like their snooty attitude. However, Dinah adored the nearby Prince Regent pub, particularly admiring their toad in the hole with mashed potato and onion gravy.
"Delicious," she said.
I get the feeling they don't mind me being here at all as long as they can get out and about and eat locally.
I, in the meantime, am confined to my Huntleigh Contoura bed. Somehow this doesn't seem fair! But I shall bear it bravely.
You are now a "national treasure". I enjoy your reviews and the letters from your "fans". Get well soon.
Chris Palin, Suffolk
Why did you have to go to Barbados to get sick, when you could have done it quite as well in Switzerland? Our best wishes for a speedy recovery from your Swiss fan club.
Arlette and Alan Eastgate, Vevey, Switzerland
I note that since sylph-like MW has shed the equivalent weight of a small family saloon, he has deprived his critics of a target for their fatso jibes, so they have changed tack and are becoming more personal. Might it be churlish of me to point out that even at his most rotund he could still pull some cracking looking women! I must add, Michael, you're pushing your luck wearing a pink mink stole and eating pad krapow!
Edward Evans, Brighton
Looking forward to your review of the hospital food. Don't be too critical till you leave the place. There are seven deadly sins, so have a good week.
Ray Soden, Vancouver, Canada
Be careful the MRSA (Meal Reviewer's Stomach Ache) doesn't attack you!
Marcia Yeates, Ware