Lunch is back! My desperation at having to buy or bring my own has given way to pure joy at the standard of hospitality extended my way in the last week.

There I was, at a new tapas bar in the city – the one where the hiring policy for the wait staff would not stand scrutiny from the Sexual Equality Police.

The waitress made a tiny miniscule slip up on our order and the owner was there in a flash, promising that everything – and he repeated “everything” – was on the house.

Seven plates of chorizo and four bottles later, here I am writing my column. The joy!

It was only surpassed by the very sophisticated schmooze put on by friends at Conexus Financial, publishers of this website. Their stylish farewell to outgoing AIST CEO Fiona Reynolds down at Circular Quay during the week has set the bar very high indeed.

The only problem was that I had to be on my best behaviour throughout the whole event, under the Pax Conexus. There were some of my mortal enemies from my investment banking past there and I was forced to smile and be polite to them in the interests of decorum when really I just wanted to scratch their faces out.

One thing I’ve noticed though is that whenever I muscle in on a media lunch, the hospitality is not as lavish and much more, shall I say, nuanced.

Anyone who drinks red wine is made to feel like a disgraceful lush and there is no dessert. A “petit fours” is not a dessert, people, trust me.

And at 2 pm you start getting the “eat it and get out” vibe which tells you that you are no longer welcome, or only welcome if you want a one on one interview with some portfolio manager they are trying to propel to stardom as the Wunderkind of the Moment.

At 2 pm the message is clear: “Get out of here and go write the story which is your payment for lunch.”

Very appropriate though to be writing an Ode to Lunch the week my old mate David Coe left us, sadly far too early. Now Coey was a man who loved his art and included the art of lunch in his whole approach to life. Not for him a 2 pm finish and back to the office.

Without Coey leading the charge, I am announcing myself as the Champion of the Long Lunch 2013 and I urge you to join me.

The rules are simple. Everyone must ring in to their offices with a lame excuse at about 4.30 pm. The menu will include three full courses, plus an aperitif before the meal and a digestif – usually cognac – afterwards. Red wine is compulsory. If more people jump aboard the bandwagon I’m sure much more fun will be had, and the deals will start flowing.

My developing theory is that there is a strong correlation between deal flow and the prevalence of the long lunch, and I’m here to prove it. I’m even talking to the Australian School of Business about funding a survey into my theory.

The whole lunch thing was a welcome relief after my disastrous trip down to Melbourne for the tennis. I made a mistake at the airport and went with a driver holding up my name at the baggage carousel, only to discover that I was the wrong person after all.

He took me to some bikie fortress in outer Melbourne and basically kept me hostage for a day, saying he’d been tasked to deliver someone with my name to his masters and I was it. When the real person showed up I was tossed out ignominiously onto the street, with absolutely no idea where I was.

Then when I made it to the tennis I was thrown out of Centre Court for grunting, even though I had proof it wasn’t me.

And then my brilliant plan to securitise the takings from all the fast food stands at the tennis came to nothing when one of the sponsors, a major bank, vetoed it. And I was going to cut them in on the deal!

As I flew into Sydney I noticed that the huge Rubber Duck which gave me such grief last week had been removed, and had been replaced by a giant inflatable White Elephant floating just off the waters of Barangaroo.

Ah the harbour! So inspirational. I vowed to re-ignite my plan, targeted at Japanese tourists, for midget submarine rides from a purpose built terminal near Lady Macquarie’s chair.

All I need are some investors. Lunch tomorrow anyone? I’ve got my pitch all ready.

 

Follow me on twitter: @1 castlereagh

Leave a comment