I don't like Thai food. In fact I don't like any food except cheese. Not Thai, not Chinese, not Indian, not French, not Greek, not Spanish not anything. Strange then that I should take the decision to join my old work colleagues at Chaophraya, a Thai restaurant in Liverpool One.
Yet there is method in this madness. A couple of these people are leaving and so they were celebrating. Celebrating is absolutely the operative word here, but it takes someone to leave for everyone to get their sociable heads on. I worked there for a year and social outings were rare. Jennifer Anniston and Angelina Jolie get together socially more often than we did, and it is more than possible as people start leaving their jobs that we might never get together again.
My first problem was getting there. This being August it was of course hammering down with the kind of rain not seen since well.........since the day before yesterday. Undeterred I plodded on, but managed to get lost. I was rolling along quite absent mindedly with the MP3 player on when after about 10 minutes I found myself heading towards a pub. I would have called in for a drink had it not then dawned on me that firstly I was already on course to be very late, and secondly that the pub in question was at the bottom of the street where I work!
Having resolved to concentrate on what I was actually doing rather than trundling around in circles, I found Liverpool One with no more drama. Finding the restaurant was a different proposition. I'd been told it was near to the Hilton hotel, but what I didn't know is that you had to get into the lift from there and go up to the fifth floor. I found this useful titbit of information from the Tourist Information Centre, which I also found quite by accident.
By now around 20 minutes late I exited the lift to find a row of restaurants at the top of the ramp. Only Chaophraya wasn't one of them. It was on the other side of the complex, hidden away like Dr Evil's lair. It crossed my mind that Liverpool One could make good use of maps, but it's a place that seems to think it is too cool for that. You're slumming it if you offer people help in getting around. Liverpool One is only for pseudo-trendy people, and pseudo-trendy people don't need maps. Except perhaps to find their way up their own backsides to retrieve their heads.
As expected I couldn't eat much, yet I could still have done without one of our number asking the waiter if he could get me some chips. Chaophraya thinks it is up-market, and it is not the sort of place where one can sit there eating a split and fish while all around you are tucking into their Thai curries and their duck. I managed some chicken and some strange bread-based concoction smeared in sesame seeds, but that was about my lot. The chip request sparked something in the waiter, who spent much of the rest of the time dashing over to our table to offer me alternatives. Chicken nuggets? No thanks. Prawns? No thanks. Ice cream? No thanks. It was all a bit Mrs Doyle. Say you will. You will, you will, you will, you will, you will. You will. I won't.
I wouldn't even have a dessert. I could easily have shifted some chocolate cake but it didn't seem appropriate having declined everything else. Except beer. I had beer. Budweiser is Budweiser, irrespective of foreign cuisine. We moved on to a few pubs and I thankfully started to feel a little less like everyone was looking at me, willing me to eat a spring roll. It was still raining and I was still hungry, but I was still glad to have been there.