Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Bibendum in Bordeaux - Day One

It just wouldn’t be a Bibendum trip without some sort of kerfuffle on the way to the airport. You may remember that last year the team set off on a hare-brained chase across Europe that was more reminiscent of ‘The Day of the Jackal’ than ‘Would you like some Champagne upon take-off sir?” The marketing trip to Italy later that year also threatened never to leave London, when the team found themselves stranded in a stricken minicab in Mile End in the pouring rain at 4.30 am. Only the exchange of large quantities of cash with a black cab ensured a successful departure.

Well this wasn’t quite the same, but there was that slight sinking feeling when a glance at the Kings Cross board yielded the disappointing news that all trains had decided to set off from Hampstead instead that day. Suffice to say, we made it to Luton just in time for the flight and took up our positions in a departure lounge that was stuffed with more wine trade folk than the free lunch at a generic tasting. I had a glorious vision of the boarding process calling for all MWs to jump on first, followed by esteemed members of the press, followed by Directors, with the rabble left to fight for those few seats at the back. As it turns out, the whole wine trade are equally disorganized and all checked in late, meaning we were all in Boarding class ‘D’.

The flight was going great until all of 240 seconds in when Alice cheerily asked “Do you know why the ‘brace’ positioned is designed as it is? No takers? It’s so that your neck breaks instantly on impact if you crash…” Brilliant Alice. Fab news. Any other tips while you’re at it? Chances of dying from a 6 day old airline cheese sandwich anyone? Probability a stray guinea fowl is going to fly into one of the engines? Amazingly, the whole team made it there with all limbs and arteries intact, though one member was short of socks, toothpaste and all the maps that might help us find our hotel. Oh well…

Dinner was at the Phillip Stark-esque ‘Chez Greg’ which boasted an enormous pile of meat sat on a dish next to a very tempting looking grill. Where was Willie when you needed him? Most heart-attack-inducing dish had to have been boneless pigeon legs, stuffed with foie gras and wrapped in parma ham, served with chunky chips proudly fried in duck fat. Pretty good at the time, not so good later that night when the greedy little pig who’d eaten it all was having cholesterol-induced nightmares that contained violence, chasing and the entire early cast of Neighbours. The less said, probably the better…

Our post dinner stroll took in the new hotel development opposite the Opera in the centre of town. “That Radisson’s gonna be bloody smart when it opens. Maybe I’ll stay there next year. It’ll be a hell of a lot better than the Four Sisters [our current residence]. Having said that, at least our hotel this year is a lot, lot better than that rotten place that Jonny Derrick booked last year. I don’t do lino…” Need you ask who it is that doesn’t do lino? Of course not. We may not have Willie with us, but style guru Ben Collins is here in full effect. Shame…that lino was really quite striking…


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