My August survival strategy is simple: stay put. Even the office takes on a Zen-like allure when compared to the high summer termite mounds of Gatwick and Heathrow. The most cunning policy is to let everyone think that you're working your socks off when you're really snoozing in your swivel-chair.
This holiday mood is enhanced if your office has a large, flat roof overlooking Mayfair and the West End, which is easily accessible via a fire-escape, and where you can escape to do some "thinking". Thinking comes easier in a bikini with a G&T, but this year's downpours have scuppered my concentration.
The rain has also meant fewer rooftop sessions of Grandmother's Footsteps. This traditional playground game requires "grandmother" to stand some 60 yards away from the other players with her back turned to them. The challengers then have to make a stealthy advance upon granny, who may whip round to face them at any second. If she catches anyone mid-stride or wobbling they are promptly returned to the beginning of the course. The winner is the person who manages to creep up on grandma so insidiously that they tap her on the back before she can defend her position. The victor's prize is that they assume grandmother's role. It recently occurred to me that the game's surprisingly strong appeal to the least childish adults (I recently got a politico, an investigative journalist and a film producer to play nicely together) is that it holds an uncanny mirror to the machinations of office politics. All those big corporations that send their employees on adventure courses should substitute Grandmother's Footsteps forthwith. It may not foster teamwork, but it certainly teaches you to mind your back.
When rain stops play, I continue my personal odyssey of the capital. For some years now I have tried to use August to tour the places I would take my best beloved if we had one day left before aliens pulped the human race, and we were confined to central London. It is hardly an original list. Most of my "hidden jewels" are such ill-kept secrets that you can barely enter them for stumbling over half your acquaintances engaged in illicit amours. In August, however, the cappuccino crowd head for the Umbrian hills, leaving their haunts to you, me and a dusting of more enterprising tourists. So, now is the time to take a summer lover and parade them all over town without fear of detection.
For a dose of easily digestible culture you cannot better the Wallace Collection in Manchester Square, tucked a few streets behind Selfridges (highly convenient for pit-stops at the store's oyster bar). The beauty of the Wallace is that it is compact - so you don't get gallery glaze - and eclectic. Basically, it holds the fruits of two men's roving eyes: the 4th Marquess of Hertford and his illegitimate son. The Wallaces were as mustard-keen on armour and porcelain as they were on come-hither nymphettes painted in the buff. The collection holds many erotic gems and if you're stuck for an assignation point, tradition would suggest Fragonard's masterpiece The Swing (a picture of a young man gazing up his sweetheart's skirt).
But for the giddiest peaks of idiosyncrasy, visit Sir John Soane's Museum in Lincolns Inn Fields. Soane designed the house to fit around his rambling collection of, well, everything, from paintings to sarcophagi, architectural medallions to knocked-off cornices and disembodied, marble limbs. Here, a lover's tryst should take place in the tiny gallery that houses Hogarth's Rake's Progress. And, if you're lucky, a gimlet-eyed caretaker will offer a lascivious commentary and call you "young lady" to boot.
For pure charm, however, you cannot beat Pollock's Toy Museum in Scala Street, Fitzrovia. Every room is a shrine to the Edwardian nursery childhood that you never had but oh-so wished you did. It's the Mary Poppins of museums; a place where …