When I was taking French A level I realised that there was quite a difference between the salons of Stockport and the salons of France, the contemporary places where ladies sat with heads full of curlers under hairdryers and chatted very loudly, and the intellectual C18 gatherings hosted by aristocratic ladies to discuss literature and ideas. Now I've been to salons many times; my first job, aged 13, was in a salon washing hair, silently handing over curlers, applying lilac and pink and blue rinses. But until last night I'd never been to a salon.
As with any good salon, conversation was the main purpose of the Women of Substance salon organised by Jane and Amanda of The Women's Room and it certainly achieved this. It was a sell-out, the event was packed, noisy, stylish, funny but also serious about women. Viv Groskop chaired the discussion brilliantly, the guest 'women of substance' shared insights and inspirations, and the delicious gin-based drinks banished forever all images of mother's ruin.
There were dainty flavoured meringues from the Meringue Girls and delightful boutonnières by Hattie Fox made on the spot (that's mine in the photo). It was held in the brand new Ace Hotel in Shoreditch, a part of London I love, full of flowers and coffee shops and bagels and graffiti. And now I'm going to be able to spend a whole weekend there with Simon as I was the incredibly lucky winner of a night for two in the hotel. I didn't do anything clever to win this - I just looked under my seat like everyone else to see if there was a gold envelope attached to it. And there it was, a ticket to the grown-up equivalent of a night in Willy Wonka's factory.
I was sacked from the salon where I worked for reading the magazines while the towels dried. I hated the job so was quite relieved, and went on to have a fine part-time career in a chip shop instead. But the sort of salon I went to last night, well, I'd certainly look out for more of those in the future.