09/08/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The Return Of The 4-Hour Lunch

There can be few more depressing sights in this world than that of an office worker hunched over a desk using a plastic fork to consume food of indeterminate origin from a yellow polystyrene box, while sipping from a bottle of water. This is not lunch. This is an abomination.

Consider, on the other hand, those gloriously life-affirming photos that appeared the other day of the actor Michael Douglas and friends around a splendidly ravaged luncheon table at a restaurant in Portofino, on the Italian Riviera, which we must henceforth call Portovino: he apparently comatose, his lolling head cradled on the shoulder of his giggling wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones; a man who has looked at life through the bottom of several bottles of chilled frascati superiore, and likes what he sees; a man who has lunched not wisely, but too well.

In a delicious coincidence, one of Douglas's most celebrated roles in a glittering movie career is that of Gordon Gekko, the ruthless and greedy corporate financial raider in the 1988 film Wall Street: the man who, you will recall, memorably declared that lunch was for wimps.

Wimps? I think not. Lunch is for heroes: men and women with the mental fortitude and physical stamina to begin at 12 with a couple of stiff Manhattans, to progress through a full three-courser served with proper crockery, cutlery and linen and lubricated with the best that Bordeaux and Burgundy can provide, to conclude with a couple of digestifs just to take the edge off, and to return to the office around 4ish - upright, alert, ready to rally the troops, to issue bollockings or pats on the back where appropriate, and in general to take on the world.

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