Ham Solo

Lunching alone is pedestrian; dining alone is pretentious; breakfasting alone in the city is a delight. I'm amazed that more people don't do it; not in a harried grab-a-croissant-before-my-meeting way, but with defiant, indulgent midweek langour. You have to start early, but it's worth it.

Wandering through the Soho streets when they have that pre-rush hour echo, the rubbish glinting as if new-minted and the dirt freshened by the dew, I ease into the day like I own it. A few fellow temporal frontiersmen sit surveying the urban savannah, steadying their espressos on rickety aluminium pavement tables that flash like diamonds in the dusty morning light. We exchange complicit, nonchalant glances.

I find a corner in my favourite haunt, and order a big fairy-tale pot of porridge, with berries and Greek yoghurt and a vivid bitty smoothie on the side. I try not to read, but I usually do. I have special breakfasting alone knickers.

'Breakfasting alone in the city' might be the title of a chapter in my latest read,  JB Priestley's 'Delight'. I found a copy on childhood shelves: my grandfather's, dustjacketless and dark blue, inscribed by my mother and smelling of catacombs. Every night I read aloud one of the jewel-like miniature essays - on fountains, on not going to a party, on gin and tonic and crisps - and find them all the more moving for their wry, restrained Englishness.

Who couldn't fall in love with a man who loves lying in a hot bath, smoking a pipe, "a pampered slug, lolling again in the steamy hot morning of the world's time"?

If I'm feeling really flash at my dawn repast, I splash out on eggs benedict. Forget a sophisticated spread in the Wolseley or a pedigree Claridges kipper: that solitary dish tastes like the most indulgent thing in the world.

It tastes like time. Mine.