Saturday, 16 April 2011


Four of us were sat in the clubhouse, at a table that had seen better days, on chairs that had seen better years. The barman, who had clearly seen better decades, was failing to deliver our drinks. Egbert, whose golf score had been highest making him the wallet for the evening, was frowning hard.
"Why's he not moving?" he said for the third time, half-raising from his chair. "It's not like a Tom Collins is hard to make, and it is on the cocktail list."
"The ladies' cocktail list," said Damian, who thinks he's witty and has a secret stack of rejection letters from Private Eye.
I, who had of course won our little golf-foursome, spun a barmat idly on one corner and waited as patiently as I could. Unlike Egg, who got up and went over to the bar to make some noise. Damian promptly moved Egg's chair to another table, and shuffled his round to make it look like we were a trio.
"He'll notice," I said. "Even Egg will notice that his chair's missing."
"We can all pretend we don't know him, though!"
"The barman's on the floor, very pale and frothing," said Egg as he hurried across the floor. "What should we do?"
"Call an ambulance," said Tim, the practical one.
"On the way to another bar," I said, for once the more practical one.
And so it was that we arrived at a nearby gastropub, pulling into the carpark just as an ambulance shot by in the other direction, sirens blaring and lights flashing. The pub was called the 'The Hare's Hind' which is probably supposed to be clever somehow. We went in anyway.
"No drinks without food," said the woman behind the bar, whose hair was pulled back so tightly it had ironed all the wrinkles out of her face, leaving her looking stretched and shiny like good bagel dough. "This is a respectable establishment, and you gentlemen in your... trendy... shorts look like you'd like it to stay that way."
"I told you plus-fours were a bad idea!" Damian gave Egg a filthy look, but said nothing back. "Can we see the menu then?"
The menu was passed to me very quickly, and I passed it back laughing heartily at the joke. The bagel-faced woman put it my hands again, and told me it was no joke.
"This is cuisine," she said, mispronouncing cuisine quite inventively.
"Fine, fine," I said, remembering that Egg was paying. "Let's have the Grilled Yoghurt then for starters, the Scared Squid for mains, and... why not? The Tiramacaroonsu for desserts."
Good grilled yoghurt is yoghurt flavoured by grilled meat with the meat then thriftily removed and served to some other customer, with the chef hoping that nobody realises he's serving the same starter to two different people. This grilled yoghurt was yoghurt that had been heated on a panini press for three minutes, and was almost certainly lethal if you tried eating it. I advised putting it aside, and drinking our drinks instead.
I'd expected that the scared squid would turn out to be a typo for seared squid but I was wrong. Instead of hot, spicy encrusted pieces of squid with char marks from the grill and a piquant dressing, perhaps served on the side in darioles, we were presented with a sickly-looking live squid that the waiter then shouted at and waved knives near for three minutes. Finally I told him that it simply wasn't scared enough and he should take it back. We drank a little more.
Tiramis├╣, as most people seem to know now, is Italian for pick-me-up, but what we were served would have been far better called put-me-down. The normal sponge fingers had been replaced with lime-green macaroons, made soggy with coffee and Kahlua. A smear of mascarpone and a dusting of cocoa sat on top of this, which was then sandwiched together with yet more soggy macaroons, this time beetroot red.
We carried on drinking, listening as the wail of the ambulance sirens came back and faded once more into the distance.
"Come here again?" asked Damian, and Egg nodded happily; the cocktails were actually very good.

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