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Yesterday I was honoured to have been invited to The Oldie Lunch at Simpson’s in The Strand – and what a fantastic experience.

Firstly I just LOVE The Oldie‘s cheeky strap line: “Buy it before you snuff it!!

Now that’s a CTA (call to action) if ever I saw one! No wonder the stand selling the magazines was mobbed. I am about to reach 46 and I came home clutching 2 copies!

The Oldie Lunch

I was Josephine Pembroke’s guest – she is my great friend who runs Radio Gorgeous and we plotted lots more Gorgeous Entrepreneur interviews for me to do in the coming months…

Amanda Ruiz and Josephine Pembroke

The 3 course meal was delicious and it was lovely to be in a building that my grandfather used to love so I felt his presence in the dining room as I quaffed delicious wine and chatted to some fascinating people. I hope he approved of my table manners!

After our meal, the amazing Barry Cryer introduced each of the speakers in an extremely witty manner that had the whole house hooting at his rhymes!

IBarry Cryer at The Oldie Lunch

Barry Cryer, Brigid and Valerie Grove whose column in The Times I have read for years – again, so great to see her IRL!! (in real life)


The first speaker was the stylish and beautiful Brigid Keenan who went through her fascinating life history – starting off as a child in India as her father was general in the Indian British Army. One of the highlights was that she learnt, amongst many other things, how to recite Little Miss Muffet in Hindustani (she later reeled it off pat perfectly!). She moved around the world in a débutante-esque way arriving in London to become the fashion editor for Nova magazine at the age of 21. She married a diplomat that saw even more travel in her life – we were all glad she was safely here in Simpsons to tell us about her colourful life! She has just written her memoir: Full Marks for Trying

Brigid Keenan

Next up was the man who is famous for being idle – Tom Hodgkinson – it was actually great to see him in person and I often hear him on the radio inspiring the nation to slow down and become downright idle! He gave us a potted history of idleness throughout the centuries, all the way from Aristotle to ” the monks in monasteries – the epitome of idleness” – well I suppose he does have a point – what better way to get away from it all than to idle your way through chanting and silence? After a long lull – he escaped to the country and has now returned to start editing his magazine The Ilder, that is a quarterly which allows much idling in the meantime (his words not mine!)

Tom Hodgkinson

The final speaker was Simon Sebag Montefiore who taught us about the Romanovs, and in particular Peter The Great who sounded quite the opposite of great. He had his beautiful lover beheaded publicly and then went to give a lesson in anatomy on the poor woman’s head to the crowd who all thought he’d over stepped the line somewhat – and then he tossed the head to one side and said, “I need to go to work now”. Charmant. Simon’s new book, The Romanovs: 1613-1918 is a must-read but I think in some instances through eyes half shut if all the stories are like that!

Simon Sebag Montefiore

Sitting opposite us was  who too had a fascinating back story: he was a trained concert pianist – doing hours a day from the age of 3 or 4….to then later become a diplomat working in the Balkans with his current role now being the culture diary columnist for The Times. Here he is taking notes to file for the TMS!

David Oldroyd-Bolt

James Pembroke, publisher of The Oldie, closed off the lunch telling us all about the forthcoming Oldie Lunches – not to be missed is all I can say!

James Pembroke

The sponsors of the lunch are the phone providers Doro and I was given a brilliant tool that makes it easier for ‘oldies’ to hold their phones – I say it makes it easier for ALL of us to use! How did I live without it?!

Doro phones