Wednesday, 22 November 2006

Audi R8 Launch

WENT TO the Audi R8 sports car launch in London with Jones The Bass. Mr Jones is more into his cars than me - he has more of the wherewithal for one thing - but I know a cool motor when I see one. And the R8 looks very cool to me. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to you, on looks at least.

This was entirely Mr Jones' gig to be honest. I was just along for the ride, if you'll forgive the pun. We rode, courtesy of Audi, in the new A8. Now I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, but the back of the Mercedes S Class feels rather more palatial to me. And the Merc is far easier to get out of when you're blinking through the massed flashlights of the

Dress code is 'Stylish', a state of dress I don't normally do, but I compromise by wearing a pair of black patent leather Costume National zippered boots with my usual jeans. I shan't comment on Mr Jones' attire save to say that he always looks cool. Fortunately, I have the presence of mind to check my treasured Royalton Hotel baseball cap into the cloakroom on arrival (I'll tell you why later).

We arrive a forgivably tardy half an hour late and Mr Jones scans the room to reveal the presence of Jason Statham, actor, (but sadly not Kelly Brook since they're no longer an item), Mica Paris, singer, (as always) and a few other people I can't remember. I never remember celebrities, not even people I know quite well. For some bizarre reason, I do recognise the design critic Stephen Bayley and even manage to say hello. Although he comes across as a plummy English toff, he's actually another Welsh taff, from Cardiff as I recall.

The menu has been designed by chef-of-the-moment Tom Aikens (the word 'designed' presumably inferring that he hasn't actually touched the
canap├ęs). Although it looks and tastes great, the menu provides nowhere near enough bulk to soak up the three bottles of Verve Clicquot we each feel compelled to consume. (If they insist on serving the stuff in giant tulip glasses, what else can you do?)

I make an attempt to get into the spirit of the evening by asking the nice man from Audi about the car. It's seventy-odd grand, as it happens, and a gallon of fizz makes this seem a remarkable bargain. "But you can't buy one", he says, "because they're sold out for the next two years." I offer my glass to the waiter for another refill.

Inevitably, we run into a boyo who once played in a band called the Pink Pussies that we vaguely remember seeing play down at Clwb Ifor Bach a
long, long time ago.

Then Audi reveal the car
tastefully, without the usual tiresome speeches, and Beverley Knight does a turn, which we applaud profusely (Verve Clicquot certainly does the job, I can vouch for that) and it's time to head for the Shalimar in Brick Lane for a curry. As we're leaving, we sign up to do next year's Gumball Rally in a rash moment of booze-fueled bravado that we'll undoubtedly live to regret.

As we hop back in the limo, I suddenly remember my baseball cap. Retracing my steps to the cloakroom, I'm handed a brace of rather heavy goody bags which each turn out to contain: a scale model of the aforementioned Audi R8, a rather nice pendent by award-winning jeweler Stephen Webster, a copy of Tom Aikens' book Cooking, Beverley Knight's 'best of' album Voice, a big bottle of Armani Code (which will make a nice Christmas present for someone) and the usual folder of press puff. Not bad, eh?

Our driver joins us for a curry - the least we can offer since he's been hanging around for us all night - and he sobers us up with tales of daring-do from his other job as a bodyguard in Iraq. Mr Jones and I drink Cobra beer which tastes great at the time but must have been off because we both wake up with the most God-awful hangovers the next day (remember we're semi-pro at this game).

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