I lived in London during the early 2000’s, where I had some of my best memories ever. Now, I’m back in West London visiting where it took about a half a day to get my bearings to feel as if I had never left.
Much of my focus here this time is work, but tonight I was going to meet the only person I would ever call mi mate, Hugh Simpson-Wells. Remember I’m American, we don’t really say that.
Back in 1996, I met Hugh, who owned one of the most reputable technical training companies in the UK (Oxford Computing Group). I had called him out of the blue and showed him how he could get to a liquidity event with his company by joining forces with ARIS (my company at the time). He bought into it and Oxford Computing Group was acquired by ARIS, just prior to our IPO on NASDAQ in 1997.
Hugh is a guy that everyone just wants to be around. He really has the “je ne sais quoi” about him. We stayed close even after ARIS was sold off to Ciber in 2001. Now, he’s got his own new venture and I have mine. When I had lived in London, we had torn it up together pretty good at times.
Tonight, we agreed to meet at Restaurant Soho Spice because I remembered that my boys loved the place. I arrived in Soho 15 minutes early and felt confident about getting to the restaurant on time. I maneuvered through the Soho streets, happy to hear so many different languages along the way. I walked past restaurants and bars from my past, bringing back loads of memories…
Thirty minutes later, I was still looking for Soho Spice. I thought for sure I knew exactly where it was, but couldn’t find the place. I guess I didn’t remember as much about the city as I had thought.
Knowing that Hugh had ridden in from Oxford, I felt absolutely horrible for being late. My US iPhone was of no use here and I felt completely helpless.
Fifteen minutes later, now a half an hour late, I became desperate, actually asking people if they knew of Soho Spice. No one knew.
An hour into my search, I started looking for an internet cafe so I could find the address and to email his iPhone that I was lost. Eventually, I found a hotel and got the address from the concierge.
As I hurried toward the place, Hugh was walking toward me with a smirk. Apparently, Soho Spice had closed two years ago and I had walked past its old location several times. After many apologies, we found an Indian Restaurant nearby and had some proper curry and a bottle of wine.
We reminisced, as well as talking about our current lives. Time flew. Then, we got our bill to head off to Ronnie Scott Jazz club. We laughed about hanging out at Tiger Tiger and China White during earlier times, and whether we would even be let in now…
It’s 5:30 am and I just got back to my hotel. I probably shouldn’t really be blogging. However, fourteen years of friendship is something that doesn’t come by easily. And it’s something that I certainly don’t take lightly. In the end, as he got out of the cab at Marble Arch, we gave each other a “fist” pump and said, “THAT was an awesome time.” See, he’s become a bit American as well (but don’t tell him).
Dude, really, I’d kick it with you anytime, anywhere in the world. Peace.