Tuesday, 5 April 2011


The barman tried to guess the Blonde's weight. You can, loyal readers, imagine how that went down. Anchors have slipped into the sea slower; hungry tigers in the lamed-wildebeest rehabilitation sanctuary have reacted slower and with less ferocity. And it didn't stop him.
Letrice is a small restaurant just off Greek Street that took us a ridiculous amount of time to find. The Blonde had insisted first on downloading a map and directions from the web and second on following them to the letter. Common sense was thrown overboard and her usual impeccable sense of direction jettisoned as she stared at her (slight tatty) piece of A4 paper with its grey-scale map and terse, enumerated instructions and attempted to follow them.
"Through here!" she insisted, pointing imperiously at the front-door of Brindisa after counting off the number of feet we'd travelled under her breath.
"It's a shop, I don't think we can go through," I remonstrated, and she waved her piece of paper in my face aggressively.
"The map says we go through here!"
The man behind the bar turned out to be someone I used to drink with until the early hours of the morning in Soho House when we were both younger, and he correctly interpreted my roll of the eyes as meaning that the Blonde was to be humoured, and so we stumbled through a stock-room fragrant with curing spice that reminded me of a summer in Morocco, out into a narrow back-yard, over a wall that reminded me how athletic the Blonde is when she's in the mood, and into a church-yard.
"This is the wrong place," she announced. "We have to go back and start again."
I took the map from her (gently) and looked at it myself. "This is a map of London from the 1940's," I said. "Things have changed a little since then."
She was going to sulk, but luckily I thought to ask her where Greek Street was and she cheered up immediately, pointing without even looking in what would, of course, prove to the be right direction.
Finally in the restaurant the maître'd took our coats and the Blonde hung on to her handbag for dear life and we were directed to the bar because, despite being five minutes late, our table still wasn't ready. And so it was that we discovered that the barman had been a fairground barker in a previous life and had a death-wish.
"ROLL UP, ROLL UP, GUESS THE WEIGHT OF THE LADY!" he bellowed as I sat down and the Blonde headed back to the door. It took all of my (considerable) powers of persuasion to get her to sit down, which I now deeply regret. The barman served us a distinctly inferior champagne, and made a first guess at the Blonde's weight. She, in turn, took a first swing at his head.
We were seated only after an expensive bribe and reassurances for the Blonde that the barman would not be allowed near her, and assurances from her that she wouldn't go near the barman. The menu was brought, and I turned to the starters
"The crab ravioli sounds... well, it sounds banal, but I think I could write something interesting about it if it isn't awful," I said. "And look, there's a pâté forestiere if you're interested?"
There was silence. I ventured to peer over the menu hoping that she was engrossed in the wine-list. I was close; she was engrossed in constructing a Molotov cocktail from a napkin, the vase on the table that had contained a single orchid, and the remnants of her martini. I waved the waiter over and asked him to give me one of everything with crab in it and to bring it as a takeaway. He started to sniff dismissively, and then the Blonde launched her firebomb at the bar, just missing his head in the process. His sniff turned into a splutter, and then he and I were walking very quickly into the kitchen and away from the warzone.
The crab ravioli was definitely not worth writing about. Very banal.

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