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Love in the Afternoon

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My favourite restaurant review was in the sadly defunct Sunday Business years ago and began something like this:

“The first thing you should do when entering the Red Fort in Soho is to apologise for how appallingly badly you behaved last time you were there. That’s what I always do.”

The author, Damien McCrystal**, was an outlier even then and to young hacks now probably looks like a made-up character in a film about old Fleet Street.

This week McCrystal wrote a piece for the Boisdale*** Journal in praise of lunch, titled Love in the Afternoon.

He writes:

Lunch. A beautiful word that promises so much. I’ve spent a lifetime investing time, energy, and money into it, constantly worried that those of us who lunch seriously – meaning several hours and rather more bottles – are a vanishing breed.

I commend it to the house, though it may make you mournful.

When I started on Fleet Street in 1996, lunch was where stuff happened. Relationships were formed, secrets shared. Reporters heard so many more things than they ever put in the paper, partly because they promptly forgot them.

Trust developed.

Contacts with interesting people, even long friendships, were formed.

That sort of behaviour has been pretty much verboten for years and is hardly likely to come back in to fashion now.

So how do young hacks and flaks form the contacts they need to do their job properly? I just don’t see how they can and something has been lost by everyone, including the reading public.

**He’s in PR now. Which says something.

***They’ve issued war bonds. Which says something else.


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