The Martini Diaries – Episode 11

5th – 15th November 2019

In which I return to UK from Pakistan (with a head cold and stomach problems), attend a two day Board meeting, take multiple medications to keep going, try out my new velvet dinner jacket at the Inspire Suffolk charity ball, miss my first Remembrance Day parade in 36 years, seem to endlessly cris-cross London to attend meetings and events, enjoy breakfast at the Wolseley and lunch at my Club on the same day!

Tuesday 5th November 2019

Back in London from Pakistan, wake up with no jet lag in my Club but an unpleasant head cold has appeared. I am also experiencing ‘stomach problems’ post Pakistan. Not a great day back at work in the office (so many meetings and physical discomfort – not a great combination), so I opt for a quiet dinner on my own in the Club and an early night. Two days of Board Meetings now await.

Wednesday 6th November 2019

Severe head cold this morning now takes hold. Also have to suspend all gym work and running due to the stomach problems – which are not going away. Now taking three different types of medication for the cold, the stomach and the jet lag – hope there are no cross over problems! Can’t be bothered, with my fatigue, to read the package labels. Surely any side effects would be no worse that what I am suffering at the moment. Board Meetings started at 11.30 am and ran through until 10 am with a Board dinner at the fabulous Le Petit Citron.

Deep sleep at Club followed at 11 pm.

Thursday 7th November 2019

Stomach improved this morning (perhaps that evening of French cuisine helped?), but cold worse. An all day Board meeting, in which excellent progress is made on a range of topics (I am very fortunate to work for a truly strategic Board of Trustees – which makes even a long meeting such an enjoyment). The day finished at 4 pm, and I then headed over to Kensington for dinner with at Dishoom, with my sister-in-law who is visiting from Canada, and my wife Sue – who I have not seen for 17 days (she has been travelling in Canada and Paris). My recently settled stomach reluctantly consumed the excellent Indian food and then Sue and I went home together on the train, arriving at 10.30 pm. A very happy little dog Molly was thrilled to see us after our joint prolonged travels!

Friday 8th November 2019

I took a day’s leave to rest and recover, but landed up spending half the day on emails which needed urgent attention. There rarely is a period, except August, when I do not need to keep on top of communications – part of the fun of being a CEO! My stomach is a problem again, and the cold is not moving, heavily congested. I sound like an intolerant male always complaining about being unwell – but, as someone who is rarely sick, on those occasions when it happens it seems so frustrating. Exhausted, I binge watched Blackadder Season 3 all afternoon on Netflix – an absolute classic comedy. Then, a change into black tie to attend the Inspire Suffolk annual charity ball that evening. I wore my new burgundy paisley velvet dinner jacket, acquired from TM Lewin. Somewhat bold choice for me, being such an evening wear traditionalist.

After the dinner I played roulette, but being so tired I broke with my new system of covering one third of the table, and doubling each lost bet until a win, and then starting again. I became too random, too undisciplined and lost all my funds within an hour. A true sign I needed to head home at midnight. I need to catch up on some rest soon!

Saturday 9th November 2019.

Slept until 8.30 am, leisurely coffee and croissants in bed with the newspapers and Molly flopping around (she has superb bladder control for a dog, and can avoid needing a pee for up to 14 hours if she stays on the bed!). In the afternoon I went to watch Ipswich Town play in the first round of the FA Cup against Lincoln. It finished 1-1 after a very exciting second half. That evening we spent time in the Greyhound pub with local friends for the final session of Sue’s never ending birthday month (which started 4 weeks ago!).

Sunday 10th November 2019

Awoke feeling very worn out with the cold and my chest was so tight I could hardly breathe climbing the stairs. Decided to not attend the Remembrance Day parade – first time in 36 years I have not done so. Standing on the wet grass on a cold morning, as well as trying to march in the parade in an orderly manner would be a problem! Instead I watched the ceremony at the Cenotaph in London with HM The Queen, live on TV – this is the best of British precision, ceremony, it is unique in all its dignified splendour. I spent the rest of the day reading newspapers and resting.

Monday 11th November 2019.

Bugger, the stomach problem returns with a vengeance this morning. Still taking two lots of pills to contain the stomach and control the cold. A very busy day in the office with back to back meetings didn’t help, and then travelled across London to Holborn for a meeting with a fellow CEO at 4.45pm. Caught a later train home than usual due to the meeting, and arrived home at 8 pm to find my home full of women – I had forgotten it was Sue’s turn to host Bible study (or the ‘Bible Babes’ as they call themselves). I ate a quick supper in the Morning Room and went straight to bed at 8.30 pm to stay out of the way of the gossip (sorry, Bible study!). I fell asleep upright in bed and only awoke in the middle of the night!

Tuesday 12 November 2019

A day of almost constant movement. Holborn at 9.30 am for the regular meeting of the N5 (the CEOs of the 5 Nutrition Science organisations), back over to my office on the other side of London for a planning meeting for our December annual reception at 12.30 pm. I left office again at 2.10 pm to travel to Clerkenwell (all the way back to the other side of London) for the Royal Society of Biology Strategic Partners meeting. Then back to Regent Street in central London to find somewhere for tea and quiet enough to be able to make a conference call to discuss a new medical partnership (I found Illy on Regent Street to be perfect). From there it was a short walk to Chandon House for a 6.30 pm reception for the 30th anniversary of the Caroline Walker Trust. The 3 speeches focused on some questionable data and generic statements about poverty (the uncertain validity of which made me somewhat uncomfortable) and then the annual awards for nutritionists.

With Barbara Bray MBE, one of the finalists

The excellent Greg Lesson won Nutritionist of the Year for his fascinating work with the London Fire Brigade.

Dinner with the Trust members followed at 9 pm.

Fear of missing my last train home meant I had to leave before it was over at 10.15 pm. I dashed to Liverpool Street, just caught the 11 pm train. Home at 12.45 am. Bed by 1 am. Stomach okay, but cold back in my head and no longer on my chest.

Wednesday 13 November 2019

Awake at 6 am. Just 5 hours sleep, Sue now has the cold (I am feeling somewhat guilty about that), so did not wake her. Made a light breakfast and left house at 7.15 am as I am giving a speech at Kings College London to the students at 10 am. When will this all slow down?

At 12 pm, after my speech at Kings College, I headed to luncheon at Isolabella in Holborn with fellow CEO Doug Brown to catch up on the world of immunology (and enjoyed an excellent oven baked Hake).

From there I stopped by the Club for tea and to deal with mountains of emails, before heading home.

Friday 15 November 2019

I do not ever attend breakfast meetings – they are simply the worst invention ever to come out of America. Who in their right mind wants to starts work at 7.30 am in the morning by sharing food and conversation, making decisions. Breakfast should be a time of quiet contemplation, to enjoy eggs and tea and toast and read the newspaper. Today, I almost broke my rule – I had been trying to meet up with our accountant/auditor Peter for several months, but his schedule (he is based in Liverpool) and mine never seem to align. Finally, we found a Friday when we could both be in London at the same time. My wonderful EA Anne agreed a breakfast meeting with him, provided it did not start until 9.30 am – a relatively civilised start time! We met at the Wolseley, in Piccadilly. My scrambled eggs on toast were simply superb, and the endless coffee black and strong. The Wolseley is one of my favourite destinations in London, consistently great food, excellent service, and wonderful surroundings.

After breakfast I walked up to my Club to meet with one of my staff for luncheon. She has enjoyed an excellent year, so I wanted to conduct her annual review over a celebratory luncheon and relaxed environment. We enjoyed a glass of bubbles, more excellent food and then a snifter after luncheon in the Lounge by the fire over looking Piccadilly.

We finished setting next year’s objectives by 4.30 pm and then headed home for the weekend. I need a day without food!

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