Who did I take for cake? Fay, Designer extraordinaire
What did we talk about? Handcuffs, sushi, Sri Lanka, eating in the dark, Alan
The damage? Approx. £23
There are two types of people in this world – those who run like clockwork and those who run late. A dedicated member of the latter camp, I ran late before I could walk. That’s right kids; this little lady shimmied out of her mother’s womb two weeks overdue and without a care in the world. Although in hindsight I had no business being so relaxed – I looked like a frickin JAUNDICED WALNUT for gawd’s sake.
A casual approach to timekeeping has remained my trademark ever since. Yet despite years spent toiling away, flying the tardy flag over and over like a damn prole, I have always been more ‘make-your-friends-irate’ than ‘fabulously- fashionably-late’. Rather like the neon orange and green cycling shorts I insisted upon for the whole of 1992, I have never quite managed to make this look work. But there are those that do. Remember the white rabbit? He who sang: ‘I’m late, I’m late for a very important date’ before disappearing into Wonderland with Alice hot on his cottontail?
This long-eared albino managed to pull off being late for one date with such pizzazz that he gained another en route. A pretty blonde in a well-starched frock literally abandoned all that she knew to shimmy down a darkened pit after him. I mean, I know he looked dapper in a waistcoat but come on! I can only assume it was his lateness that took animal magnetism underground.
With no rabbit hole or magnetism to speak of, when I find myself running late for my best friend’s already belated birthday tea (oh, the blistering irony) my only option is to throw money at the situation.
When Fay and I finally meet (½ hour later than planned) I guiltily thrust a little bottle of pink fizz at her like some greasy love rat of a husband fervently pressing service station flowers into the hands of his wife, having spent the last 23 months bumping uglies with his PA. Fay looks delighted but not at all surprised. Having known me since I was six months old the poor lamb is used to my turning up at all hours with all manner of olive branches and pathetic expressions.
We opt for a Hyde Park bench as the place to enjoy our pre-cake poison and are soon shrieking with laughter as we swap tales of new scrapes and reminisce over old. I am feeling better about my conduct already. Yes, I was late but I have surely more than redeemed myself via the proffering of pink liquid loveliness. Yes, we may be sitting outside under a grey sky that is spitting at us but heck! I’ve been clever enough to ensure that our bench is sheltered from the sky phlegm by a dear old tree. Friends like me don’t come along everyday. Fay looks like she’s having a GREAT time.
Suddenly I am aware of a shift in my best friend’s facial expression. Rapture has turned to revulsion. I look to where she is pointing in mute horror, and my eyes fall upon the massive pile of stale sick that is festering about two centimetres away from my right shoe. We hurriedly abandon ship. Thank you previous bench tenant for your remarkable ability to eat and project, oh I don’t know, SEVEN different curries. And thank you captain brain for being as perceptive as ever when choosing where you and your best friend should sit to drink the booze you brought because you were being a twat and running late to buy her belated birthday cake because you couldn’t make her actual birthday. Yeah. Nice one brain.
Thankfully, when we make it to Cocomaya there is no hurried curried vulgar vom in sight. We head straight to the Cocomaya Fine Chocolatier (there is also a Cocomaya Artisan Bakery next door) and it is like stepping into an opulent, feminine bubble of beauty. Two long, rectangular tables sit in the centre of a vibrant fuchsia and lime coloured room, one dripping with mesmorising chocolates of every texture/shape/colour imaginable (my favourite are the powder pink skulls) and the other surrounded by a gaggle of stylish ladies laughing, shrieking and tucking into a bevy of exquisite looking cakes. Anarchy appears to be the order of the day (precisely what one would expect from a joint founded by Serena Rees, of legendary lingerie emporium Agent Provocateur) and we want a piece of the action. Alas, it is not to be.
With no room at the chocolaty inn we are ushered into the neighbouring bakery, which is a smaller, more sedate affair comprising muted décor and hushed atmosphere. Goodbye rock n roll funtimes, helloooo paint the town magnolia. The bakery offers the same ‘all patrons share one table’ set-up except here the table is rounded and compact. I imagine the room has been designed with sophistication and exclusivity in mind but in a tiny space with none of next door’s high jinks, or even any music, it just feels a bit awkward – particularly if you prefer cake and conversation to lunching in a library with a bunch of strangers trying not to make eye contact or, heaven forbid, breath too loudly.
Fay and I do not help the scenario. The thing with growing up with someone is that you never quite get round to doing the growing up part. Any reunion between Fay and I also invariably marks a reversion back to our cheeky, 8 year old selves and, as a roomful of people being all grown up and silent is like catnip to the mischievously minded, our barrage of inappropriate comments and giggling means that a mere five minutes after we sit down, the woman next to us retreats to the other end of the table. She is I regret to inform you, not alone in her actions…
Despite the fact that our behaviour is evidently more suited to the riotous chocolatier, or better yet, a zoo for animals with ADHD and a zest for E numbers, the bakery staff remain seamlessly professional and utterly charming. While one bespectacled man bestows excellent cake recommendations upon us, a younger chap diligently prepares our tea. When all is settled afore us, there is no denying the beauty of the scene – four darling cakes laid out on pretty plates flanked by tiny golden cups of flower tea literally looks like something Tinkerbell might chow down upon on Midsummer’s day.
Are you sitting down? I only ask because it is at this point my dear little sprigs of sugar-blossom that I must break from my narrative to deliver a SHOCK CONFESSION. That’s right, a SHOCK CONFESSION. Although, given my earlier musings perhaps it is less SHOCK and more bleeding, blindingly obvious. Nevertheless, here goes: I am writing this review much, much later than I should be. So late that I now can’t remember exactly what we ate. So late that the scrap of paper upon which I had recorded this vital information is long gone – lost forever in the ether that is my bedroom. Any hopes of a factual or even vaguely reliable depiction of what adorned my plate and bedded down in my belly must be snuffed.
All that is left for me to do now is to tell you that there was most definitely a creamy, dreamy cheesecake involved and some sort of scrumptious, crunchy meringue jobby. My tea consisted of brewed rosebuds and Fay was so enamored with one of the cakes that she described it as being like “sex in her mouth” (it might have been at this point that the lady next to us withdrew). Aside from this and apart from impressing upon you that I remember it all to be absolutely delicious there is really not much more I can say – sorry sausages but that’s the best I can do. You and your taste bud army are just going to have to make this trip for yourselves… Well, come on! What you waiting for? Hup, two, three, four! You wouldn’t want to be late now, would you?