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Monday, 11 August 2014

Monday 11th August: Restaurant Blues‏

Played at the restaurant last night. Philippe had a birthday party booked but after what happened last time I was taking no chances, so I phoned and checked that it was still on before I left. Philippe reassured me in his usual Franglish that the restaurant was definitely open. I told him that my car is making a clonking noise so I didn't want to drive all that way for nothing.
When I arrived he was sitting at the bar, nursing a cognac. I asked him how things were. When Philippe speaks in French he talks very fast with constant hand gestures and the odd mispronounced English word thrown in now and then: very difficult to follow. I managed to make out that, although Jose is back working in the kitchen, he's moved out of the apartment and is staying elsewhere.
"What does he want with an old man like me?" Philippe kept repeating as he stared into his Cognac. I asked him if he could somehow work things out between them. He threw his arms up and let out a loud sigh, stating he will die a sad and lonely old man, unloved and unwanted.
The two waiters setting the tables nearby pretended not to hear any of this, however, I did notice they were taking an extraordinary long time with the task. While I was growing tired of these dramatics, I was concerned that the restaurant business might be suffering. For the next five minutes I kept reminding Philippe not let his guests down.
The party turned out to be a rowdy group of middle aged Brits who were obviously expecting the musical entertainment to be something along the lines of Chas and Dave. I tried to adjust my programme as much as I could (replacing the Chopin in favour of Fats Waller) but still this was not enough. One of the party, a loud-mouthed geezer with a football shirt stretched across his pot-belly, came over and asked if I could play a piece called Rabbit-Rabbit. So to remind me, he gave his own rendition of the opening bars of the song. I gave him a warm friendly smile and nodded saying, "Ah, oui Monsieur! J'aime le Chas et Dave. Cinq minutes?" I held up my hand signifying that I would be delighted to play it in five minutes time. (Of course I would have done just that, if I could have remembered how tune went.) But, instead, I took a chance that, after a lapse of five minutes, either the party would have forgotten all about the request or accept that it had been lost in translation. I just prayed none of the staff would give the game away (Philippe lost in his own thoughts to notice what was going on).
Predictably, after the main course was served, the group started to complain about the food and demanded to see the chef. Very soon, Jose was at their table arguing with them in Spanish while I tried to calm things with my rendition of Taking a Chance onLove. It seems funny now, but it wasn't at the time. Even worse was to come. Two of the women lit up cigarettes and one of the young waiters politely asked them to put them out. This produced a stream of obscenities followed by an invitation to "give her one." The waiter declined the invitation and moved away. One of the group appeared to be upset by this. He picked up a potato and threw it at the the waiter, who then flung off his apron and marched out slamming the door behind him.
While I was playing Are You Lonesome Tonight  one of the women (the one that looked like a haggard version of the Barbara Windsor) came over. It was when she started weeping and attempted to climb onto my lap that I decided that I'd had enough. I collected up my music and asked Philippe for my cash. He handed it over without noticing that I was leaving early. As the guests were in the full throes of a food fight, I suggested that he should ask them to leave.
I went into the kitchen where I found Jose smoking, with his feet up on the worktop. I told him what was going on. When we got to the dining room, two of the guests, entwined together, were rolling across the floor, while the others were reciting a tuneless version of Happy Birthday. I left Jose shouting at the top of his voice and I went to search for Philippe who had buried himself away in his office. I managed to persuade him to call the police and left.
During the drive home I made up my mind that, if Philippe didn't get the restaurant back on track soon, I will finish with it. I can still survive on my income without all this hassle.
Had a nice message from Laura this evening. She's received the earrings and is very pleased with them. Getting a few people looking at my website now, so must put the rest of our interview up.


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