Crisps at Claridges

Testing my relatively thin end of day patience, I dodged other pedestrians on the ever congested Regent Street on a warm Wednesday evening. Making my way passed the persistent protest efforts outside Canada Goose (and tweeting it like the modern social justice warrior I think I am), I turned down Hanover Street and felt like I was embarking on an adventure into unfamiliar territory.

Grand in every way

I’m not totally au fait with this part of town, the posh bit. My destination was the famously luxurious Claridges Hotel in super lush Mayfair. Previously having only read about this hotel, associated it with celebrities and royalty it felt strange to be going there on purpose. One of my dear friends was attending an event Claridges were hosting and I was her lucky plus one.

The grand setting was the location for the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Award and the promise of free flowing champagne was too tempting to resist. Stepping through the revolving doors into the foyer, I understood why overnight stays start at £500 a night. The pristinely gleaming floors and fixtures were immaculate to the point of intimidation and my imposter syndrome started to yell at me to get out quickly before I was discovered and thrown out.

Winners podium

Making our way down the perfectly polished corridor to a ballroom, the Art Deco surroundings made me feel like breaking into a Charleston and making a Gatsby-worthy entrance, but then a man carrying a cello silently whisked by us and those thoughts were replaced (thankfully) by the suggestion that we had actually just boarded the Titanic.

Entering the warmly lit space and having a photographer take our photo against an official backdrop I did start to mildly panic. Seeing the gorgeous and tasteful floral decorations, the sushi station set up at the bar and servers with loaded trays of Veuve Clicqout Rose I realised I was the guppy in a gilded shark tank. Deciding the  ‘fake it till you make it’ approach was best, I stood up straight, smiled and caught up with my friend whom I hadn’t seen in a while.

Basically what it feels like to open a bottle of Veuve Clicquot

Relaxing a bit I enjoyed hearing my friend’s stories about famous and influential people she had met at other such events which she gets invited to all the time since she works in media. I looked behind her at one point to see a celebrity of my own (Nicola Roberts) who seemed to just be taking photos for her Instagram in a quiet corner; reminding me that famous people are still just people.

Fancy finger food

Moving into the ballroom itself for the award ceremony there were a few tables set out with some snacks which would basically be our dinner. Another wave of realisation hit that little me, a regular person from Africa, was politely scoffing fancy popcorn and crisps in one of the fanciest hotels in one of the most exciting cities in the world. My journo brain snapped me back into reality and told me I should be covering this event for this blog, because what an opportunity; but instead,  to quote one of my favourite podcasts (The Guilty Feminist) opening confessions: “I’m a feminist, but…”

Influenced by the champagne, I thought I’d actually enjoy writing about the novelty of walking into a bathroom that was bigger than my flat, which included Givenchy make over stations (plural), and casually taking photos of the fittings. This is a world I don’t normally enter; I’m much more of a pint down the local kind of girl. I thought back to spending an afternoon in the park over the sun soaked bank weekend with friends where our chats had branched from relationship advice to feminism and, the most relevant topic, how Clissold Park was ‘kale’ while London Fields was more ‘ketamine’. I was well aware I was out of my comfort zone.

Dali-esque taps and lever flushes, as if I’m going to play it cool

Even though this might sound like a moan I did have a lovely evening, and I applaud the winners and Veuve Clicqout for acknowledging and supporting women in business, because we definitely need more of that. On the other hand I did have to stop myself from verbally expressing my horror at the blameless server who had offered us Foie Gras canapes earlier in the evening, especially after ‘being in the zone’ by Twitter shaming a clothing manufacturer for animal cruelty.

 

I was like a pigeon among starving peacocks, but it was fascinating to see how the other side live. I’m grateful to remain a regular citizen though.
Wearing my invisible fancy crown

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