Monday, 4 June 2007

It was a dark and rainy night


Some tables are more memorable than others. Last week's hen party was one of the more forgettable. But some tables stay with you forever. I was ruminating yesterday over past glories, the tables that tip you so well you get embarrassed, the tables that want to "wrap you up and take you home", the tables that give you a round of applause at the end. All these things have happened to me, some recently, some in the past. But few tables are as memorable as the one I had on a wet and windy Tuesday night many years ago...

It was a quiet rainy night in the middle of January. I had nothing booked save for a table of 10 at 8pm. Cold, wet, dark, and rainy nights in January aren't well known for being busy, so I wasn't expecting too much to happen. I was in first gear and intended to stay there. The booking though had me intrigued as I couldn't work the name out, THELITE. Maybe it was a company name. Maybe it was a tourist group. I put it down to bad spelling by which ever idiot took the booking. But I kept running the name over and over in my mind. I couldn't work out what it was but it felt familiar.

But I soon forgot about it when I felt compelled to join in the chefs conversation. It was the usual high brow fare, Roseanne Barr up the bum for £10,000? As the money went up so did the dare, culminating in Roseanne Barr up the bum for £1,000,000 on live TV in a bath of beans with your ma and da in the studio watching? Turns out most chefs would do anything for a million quid. But this conversation helped pass the time.

It was ten to 8 so I went to check that the table for THELITE was well set and ready to go. They had requested a quiet part of the restaurant away from other customers. Not a problem tonight as there wasn't anyone else in or likely to be either. Then the door opened and my jaw hit the floor. I was literally, and for the first time, lost for words. In walked Roy Keane, Richard Pryor and Joan Rivers. Roy was at the front with the other two following behind. Joan was her usual reserved self.

"Oh yeah darling, sucked my face right off. It's the best thing I've ever done. Oh you gotta get some done darling" wailed Miss Rivers.

Richard Pryor was just nodding his head, unable to get a word in except for the occasional "Fuck yeah"

I approached Roy with my hand out stretched, my voice failed as I squeaked "hello". I tried it again with a proper man sized "Hello, welcome, welcome. Are you guys booked?"

"Der's a table fawh 10 booked under duh name of duh elite" responded Roy, in a thick Cork accent, looking right past me.

"Duh elite?" I looked at the booking sheet to see what the great one was on about. And then it became obvious. THELITE was in fact The Elite.

"Yesyesthiswayyourtablesreadyohmyohmy" I was seriously babbling now and on the verge of becoming incoherent. But I composed myself and ushered them to their table. I was practically bowing as they walked past me.
Richard nodded at me as he walked past, but it could have just been his usual head movement.

Richard and Joan sat beside each other but Roy sat at the other end of the table on his own. Joan was still extolling the virtue of plastic surgery to Richard who was becoming rather agitated with her. I made for him first.

"Yeah man, how you doing?" He seemed glad at the interruption. Before I could answer he asked me for a Scotch on the rocks. I got his drink and wine for Joan and water for the really very intense Mr Keane.

"Duh rest will be here in a few minutes." Assured the ever more pensive Mr Keane. He seemed annoyed that the rest of his party were late. Ever the pro!

Again the door opened and in came Morrissey, Humphrey Bogart, Larry David, and the majestic Liv Tyler. Larry David had his arm round her waist as he had been shielding her from the rain under a large black umbrella. But he kept hold of her even after he put the umbrella down. She looked uncomfortable but was too much of a lady to make a scene. She excused herself and asked for directions to the bathrooms. Larry seemed reluctant to let go. I couldn't speak and just pointed and mumbled "there". I'm sure I was dribbling.

" You gonna hog that dame all night?" snapped Bogey. He took his black overcoat off, revealing a very smart black dinning suit finished with a stiff white shirt and thin bow tie, and Fedora hat and past them to me.

"What? You think I was hogging her? I was just being a gentleman." Replied Larry defensively. He nudged Bogey and whispered "You think I got a chance?"

Bogey, ignoring him, lit a cigarette and said "I need a drink."

"What?" Larry stood there for a moment on his own with his arms out stretched. "Yeah, I got a chance." assuring no one but himself.

Morrissey, meanwhile, was already at the table and was kissing Joan Rivers on either cheek. He tried to high five Richard Pryor but made a mess of it and nearly knocked Joan Rivers of her seat. Roy laughed into himself. I got Morrissey some wine, a martini for Bogey and water for Larry David. He asked for "hot tea" first but Bogey threw him a look and he quickly changed his mind.

When Liv got to the table all the men stood up and took it it turns to kiss her gently on the cheek. Joan rose to her feet too and loudly air kissed her saying "Oh darling you look radiant! Are your tits real? I swear to Gawd I would kill for tits like yours. Like I should be so lucky!"

Liv went a lovely shade of pink for just a little moment.

"Where's that punk kid?" enquired Bogey, sucking a long draw from his cigarette.

"Can't make it." Answered Roy. "He's fucking depressed or summat like dat. He is sending his woife instead."

What punk kid? Who where they on about? My mind was racing with possibilities. The whole table groaned as Roy shared this news.

"I hate that tramp. My Gawd she is such a lush! And that music, well I say music. I've made sweeter music having sex." She went onto to make grizzly sex noises. The rest of the table groaned again

"Now Joan be nice" countered Liv. "We have to give her a chance, for Kurt. Mozzer, she can sit beside you. At least you two have something to talk about"

"But she doesn't even LIKE me !
And I know because she said so. In the room downstairs. She sat and stared. In the room downstairs. She sat and stared. I'll never make that mistake again" Replied Morrissey

"For fuck sake not again" Shouted Roy, his face was twisted and red and full of rage.

" Listen kid, I warned you about that the last time we went out, at Sam's place. Knock it off or I'll rub you out."
Bogey was on his feet and pointing at Morrissey.

" You agreed Stephen, no more song lyrics during dinner." said Liv Tyler raising her voice like a school teacher.

Morrissey just laughed and said "That joke isn't funny anymore?"

Again the door opened and in strode a man smoking a pipe through a balaclava. In a dusky Latin sounding voice he announced himself to me "Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos. I am here for dinner with some friends."

By now nothing could surprise me. "Yup over here mate." I pointed him in the general direction of his table. I figured he would find it OK seeing as he had avoided capture by the Mexican authorities for years. I went to the bar and fixed myself a quick shot of Powers. This was getting ridiculous. With two places left to be filled I wouldn't have been surprised if Jesus and Baby Spice had arrived together holding hands singing "She'll be coming round the mountain."

But before I could wipe the whiskey from my lips I heard a soft but deep French voice coming from the doorway.

"Allo, où est chacun ? It is me, Eric. Allo?

And there he was, Eric Cantona, in the flesh standing bold as brass in my restaurant. Well I could have peed.

"Table. Elite. What? This way." Each word was said with more and more confusion. My head was pickled. I walked Monsieur Cantona to the table. He greeted each person individually. Kissing Joan and Liv on the hand. He lingered a bit longer with Liv. Well you would. But his warmest greeting was for Roy. They hugged and back slapped each other for more than two minutes. Much to Humphrey Bogart's annoyance.

Bogey took charge at this point. "Well see, we are all here. The kid ain't coming so lets order. I got plans see. Hey kid, you got menus here or do we gotta guess what's to eat?"

I ignored the rather heavy hint of sarcasm and headed to get the menus. It was Humphrey Bogart after all. Was I really going to backchat one of the finest actors of a generation? I approached the table ready to relay the specials and the soup. I took a look round the table for a moment, Roy Keane, Richard Pryor, Joan Rivers, Morrissey, Humphrey Bogart, Larry David, Eric Cantona Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos and the majestic Liv Tyler. Fuck me this was going to be interesting. As I stood there staring at them I failed to realise that they were staring at me.

"Yo cutie, the cat got your tongue?" Joan Rivers voice snapped me out of it and I smiled. But before I could get my first word out the door burst open again. There, drenched in rain which caused her makeup to run and looking like she had been on a five day drugs and drink binge, stood Courtney Love. She had a bottle of Jack Daniels in one hand and a salmon in the other.

"Hello boys, you weren't going to eat without me where you?" She slurred this with a manic grin on her face.

That's when the night really started....

10 People trying to get Manuel's attention:

Medbh said...

Brilliant.
"Treasure of Sierra Madre" is one of my favorites as well.
One of the best scenes occurs when Bogart turns to Wallace Beery and says something close to:
"Well, that's fine for you 'cause you're old,see, but I'm young, see? And I need dough, see?"
Classic.
But I'm guessing that if Morrissey sat down next to Joan Rivers that the cow would never leave the table in tact.
Oh, and yes, Larry David would have water, except for when he was trying to be goyim on the plane with the G&T.

Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

Larry David's Jewish?

I'm kidding. Honest! Look, everyone knows he's a Buddhist - he's a karmic genius, isn't he?

This is great!

whyioughtta said...

Nice one. Looking forward to Part II...

p.s. Yeah, Courtney's a mess, but I still think Live Through This was one of the awesomest rock albums of the 90s. I'll never let that go. You have your 12-inch U-shaped hair and I have Miss World.

ellie said...

Roy Keane and Eric Cantona, Mmmmm Mmmmm Mmmmmmm. Keano's thighs. Mmmmmmmmmm.

Old Knudsen said...

I just worked it out, you work in the Pancake hoose in Smithfield just doon from the surplus shops, only a high class place like that would get such a crowd of um stars can you call them?

ellie said...

LMFAO @ The Pancake House. Made my day that one!

fatmammycat said...

Bravo! And Encore!

Medbh said...

Hey Manuel, I just read that Larry and Laurie David are getting divorced after 14 years of marriage. His bitterness may translate into good comedy for the show.

Manuel said...

Medbh: Bogey was geniuS see. The dialogue in his movies was was so good. All that stuff like "Dames" and "wiseguys"was just so good.

Sam: awh cheers

Wio: part 2, next week!

ellie: settle....

old K got it! Well done you.

ellie: dont encourage him

fmc: again thank you, more to come soon

medbh: other peoples pain is the best pain.

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