On Friday, our entire company took a half day and celebrated a belated Summer Party at London Zoo. I haven't been here since I was a child, and to be honest I would be torn to return again if we have children. Seeing the monkeys, fish, parrots, sloth bears and more was undoubtedly a treat. I understand the benefits of captivity for species that would otherwise be extinct or endangered. I can see that London Zoo is doing its best to re-create natural environments in limited spaces.
But I did feel a little uneasy ogling the animals while they looked on bored and paced or swam around and around in their confined spaces. Of course I see the advantages of zoos, both for animals and children, but there will always be a tension between the pros and cons of enclosed zoos for me. I can't help it.
After a few hours, after much food, drink, chatting and animal watching, we clambered into barges and floated down the Grand Union Canal to Little Venice. In this very chilled and salubrious part of west London, we spent the evening supping mojitos, Champagne, beers, wine, anything and everything really, and picked at endless rounds of canapes at the excellent E Bar opposite Warwick Avenue.
As the day was being planned, I had thought 10 hours would be far too long to spend in the company of loads of people drinking too much. Though I like to drink, my body can't tolerate lots of alcohol. Work parties always involve huge groups and lots of drunkenness and I invariably slip away before 10pm. But as I get older, I get more confident - more confident to pace myself, to take off if it gets too hectic, to sit in smaller groups and chat, to not chat if I need a breather and simply need to sit back and take it all in. In these ways, I survived a long day and had a fantastic time. And I left after 10 - just!