Play it again, Sam 13 December 2019 Sam Harrison returns to the floor at Hammersmith’s Riverside Studios, where his brasserie is set to be a blockbuster
In this week's issue... Play it again, Sam Sam Harrison returns to the floor at Hammersmith’s Riverside Studios, where his brasserie is set to be a blockbuster
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Orgy of football gets my red card

01 January 2000
Orgy of football gets my red card

I am a self-confessed football pagan, and as we draw closer to the finale of that mind-numbing torture of incessant soccer games, I for one will be glad when it's all over.

Thank God that this battery of senseless occasion will not be on the calendar for another four years. If I could name just one event that catapults any establishment into turmoil I would have to use those two ghastly words "World Cup". That paltry and insignificant group of letters has succeeded in carving furrows of stress across my forehead.

It's amazing how such an innocent thing as a little white ball can ruin the best organised of all procedures, no matter how well they may be planned in advance. It has been a struggle to entice some of our patrons to sit down on time, or at all for that matter.

On one night in particular a party of people of different generations gathered to celebrate a grandmother's birthday in our private room… or so they thought. It became obvious that some of the company had thoughts of watching the game on the screens that were in place in the bar below us.

The host refused to entertain these notions, and as the personal television and radios were banished from the table, the football watchers followed suit. At the same time as our calm and composed waitress was attempting to take the order from the head of the table the remainder seemed to be embroiled in a growing argument over the splitting of the party. A mediator stepped in and negotiated a compromise: the guilty pair would forgo a starter course and join the table for the main meal. The remainder of the order was forwarded to the kitchen and everyone was happy… but not for long.

Once we were ready to send the next course, a request was relayed to our manager downstairs to inform our patrons that their presence was required at the table. His apparent delay in escorting our customers to their places heightened slightly the level of anxiety. Of course, what was only seconds on the clock may as well have been hours, as everything was cooked and ready to be plated and there still was no indication that our guests were ready to continue. Our party, recognising the delay, agreed to go ahead with the meal assuming that the others would catch up as soon as they arrived.

A search across the premises ensued but still failed to locate our now nefarious pair. Although the occasional eruption of expletives from various family members didn't seem to ruin what was left of the happy occasion, I would love to have been privy to the conversation when they did finally catch up with the pair in question.

We never did find out where those two absconded to that evening, but I'm certain that both they and I will not forget this World Cup in a hurry.

Next diary from James Grimes: 13 August

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