Bling on Steroids – The Great Gatsby Revisited

Far be it from me to posture as a movie critic. As far as I know there is one movie critic in South Africa, viz Barry Ronge. But since this little blog is about my current grilling life, it would be remiss of me not to tell about my adventure of going to the movie theatre this week.

The buffet of entertainment in New York is, these days, above my means. Recently a friend went to see the Rolling Stones. The tickets were $300.

The only way you don’t spend money in the US is if you stay in bed. Going to New York or even Philadelphia involves mucho dinero.

I long ago resolved only to go and see people who are likely to shuffle off this mortal coil sooner rather than later. (Note to self: must save up for tickets for Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan.)

But last night, by happy chance, a chum and I were able to go to see The Great Gatsby.

The cocktail sherpa and the food porter.

He came to collect me in Miss Ross, as we call his car. We were anxious not to be late, but we needn’t have bothered. There were the obligatory seventeen forthcoming attractions. We sat in a near deserted cinema while our fellow movie-goers were tucking into boxes of popcorn the size of telephone booths.”We could have had an appetizer”, groaned Tom aggrievedly. Later “We could have had an entree!”

And still later “We could have had dessert!”

Finally the extravaganza commenced. I winced immediately. Are movies these days made for the hearing impaired? Why, when Daisy ripped off her necklace the sound of the pearls rolling over the parquet were like ballbearings on a bathroom floor.

For what my budgie-seed opinion is worth, Luhrmann’s interpretation of this great story set in the Jazz Age with its Shakespearean themes – impossible love, incorruptible dreams etc etc – was reduced to a brash 100% singing 100% dancing extravaganza in a heaving sea of champagne.

Tennis courts of Tiffany, tons of dazzle, a giddy torrent of feathers and flim-flam, but with all the depth and charisma as the enamel on a tin tray.

I am rather keen on Scott Fitzgerald and didn’t care for the liberties Luhrmann takes with the book.

Even the fact that Nick Carraway is supposed to be a poor cousin, but somehow can afford several servants and expensive psychotherapy annoyed me. But then maybe that’s just me being Miss Crankypants.

Why, we had to wait for half an hour before DiCaprio even made an appearance – and how exaggeratedly theatrical it was. Strings swelling to Rhapsody in Blue…blinking harbour lights in the distance and so forth.

Like all movies that are jammed with special effects – the 3D made me feel slightly bilious. As endless as Gotterdammerung, it was the kind of spectacle that almost made your eyes want to throw up.

Baz Lurhrmann needed someone to tell him ‘Enough! STOP already!’. Being cool is sometimes as effective as being hysterical but it’s less noisy.

Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D…JZ…Mr Beyoncé….(sic).

What happened to being authentic to the time period?

What’s next? Schindler’s List with a rap music soundtrack.

Listen here Adolf…whattcha gonna do….here’s an idea baby…World War 2!

When Mia Farrow played Daisy, in the 1974 version, Robert Redford’s enchantment/fixation with her seemed more plausible. Miss Mulligan I am afraid, has a pretty face but all the acting skills of a wet sock. She’s not capable of igniting a cigarette, let alone a life-long passion.

(Actually it was more a desire for another possession, rather than love, if you ask me, but maybe I’ve just been watching too much Dr Phil.)

She either looked vaguely agonised or vaguely….well vague. Tobey Maguire, as the narrator, had the fresh unspoiled look of a slightly inebriated undergraduate, most of the time. It was his job to carry the movie. Even he looked exhausted by the end of it.

Leonardo diCaprio was predictably delicious in a series of ice-cream coloured suits, but it seemed to me that he was trying desperately hard to play Gatsby like Robert Reford playing Gatsby. He used the term ‘old sport’ at least a hundred times. Each time was more cringe-worthy than the last.

Auld Spaut. Erld Spert. Owl Spowt…etc etc.

As for the casting of Meyer Wolfsheim as a sinister Gupta – sorry I really can’t keep up – what is the politically correct term?- was downright offensive and if anything, another form of racial stereotyping.

Joel Edgerton as Tom Buchanan, Daisy’s thuggish husband, had curious triangular shaped eyes and bulging cheeks -possibly too much Perlane?

He looked like a tomato struggling for self-expression.

His mistress Myrtle wasn’t intriguing enough and his passion for her not believable. I recalled Karen Black playing a smouldering Myrtle and how when she said ‘he makes me feel as though tiny fishes are swimming in my veins’ you tingled right along with her.

In the end Gatsby is a novel about the excesses of an era, the last fling of the dragon’s tail.

While I deeply admired the hurricane of Tiffany jewels, the mansions (large enough to house the entire Mormon Tabernacle Choir) the Birnam Wood of peonies, and the intricate topiary in those endless emerald gardens, I left the theatre feeling as though I had overdosed on sequins and Moet.

Perhaps I have finally turned the corner.

I could hardly wait to get home and steam mop the kitchen floor – the new normal for me.

My Gay Life


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Jani Allan celebrates gay and Jewish identities in this  satirical piece. Allan has long been considered a gay icon for her style and witty Sunday Times columns. She has been well versed in Jewish life having spent most of her life in Sandton and for her marriage to Gordon Schachat. 

The tragedy of my life – well one of them – is that I wasn’t born gay or Jewish.

Both are clubs with desirable benefits.

Ever seen a Jewish person down-and-out? My point precisely. Being Jewish means that you are part of a global family that takes care of their own. If you find yourself in a foreign country (assuming you are Jewish) there will be someone’s darling Auntie Bertha who will ask you over for Shabbas.

“Are you messhuga? We won’t hear of you staying in your hotel room!”

Are you the marrying kind? Mrs Levy will arrange a social introduction and the next thing you are married to a plastic surgeon, driving an SLK and ordering your chef to making matzo balls for Friday night.

Any old Tom, Dick or Harriet can join to find a partner. The only qualifier is that you should have a pulse.

Jewish dating: Jani Allan and her husband, Gordon Schachat.

Jewish dating: Jani Allan and her husband, Gordon Schachat.

Jewish people have a far more rigorous quality control process. Try and join J-Dating and you will see what I mean.

Jewish people are achievers. They always know someone who can ‘hook you up’ whether it’s with a part for your BMW, tickets for the Rolling Stones or a timeshare apartment in the Bahamas.

Gay people have a similar support system. If you have the slightest talent (assuming you are gay), you will be ‘hooked up’ with a dance teacher, modelling agent or interior designer. By next Tuesday Nate Berkus will give you a make-over on his show. You will get free facials forever (or as long as you live) you will be asked to co-host ‘The View’ with Barbara Wawa.

I rest my Louis Vuitton.

I live in a area gayer than Fire Island and from what I witness in the resto, being gay is the pink passport to a life of glamour and devotion.

(Actually, It remains a deep mystery to me why gay people are so keen to get married. Courtship is to marriage what a witty introduction is to a dull volume. But that’s another topic for another Mcblog.)

I can’t say that I have investigated this with the thoroughness of a burglar twisting the dial of a safe, listening for the locks to click and reveal the combination, but it seems to me that when gay people commit themselves to a relationship they Commit.

I have seen gay couples grow together and stay together. I could give you the names of five gay couples who are joined at the hip. And, at least from my ringside seat, appear to be happily so.

The Friends of Dorothy who come into the restaurant bring expensive champagne and tip generously.

They are meticulously groomed. They wax, exfoliate, pluck and moisturize far more than I do. Their faces are clean as china plates.

Jani Allan had a cross-dressing part in Pieter-Dirk Uys’ movie ‘Going Down Gorgeous.’

Jani Allan had a cross-dressing part in Pieter-Dirk Uys’ movie ‘Going Down Gorgeous.’

They appear interested in each other. Either that or they are listening to accounts of the misfortunes of others at which the hearer is permitted to laugh. (Nothing shortens a dinner date like the aforementioned.) Gay men text internationally in the middle of the night to discuss Kim Kardashian’s flowered frock and whether Tisci was too outre…or not outre enough.

Gay people have a sense of occasion. Every anniversary is marked by some show of devotion. Both partners invariably wear matching Tiffany rings and/or bangles. They have a Shi Tzu (or three) and speak to them on the telephone when they’re away from home. (Haven’t you seen ‘Best in Show?’)

To be a lesbian is even more desirable. It is having all the benefits of being a gay man, without the stress of having to maintain a ripped body and a beach to cancer tan.
I have seen lesbians who are heavy as boarding house dumplings gaze with adoration at each other, proving that if not blind, love is at least slightly myopic.

I know gay couples who have nursed each other through lazik surgery and chemotherapy. I know a gay couple who have remodelled a marvellous historic farmhouse, restoring it to its authentic beauty.

See what happens when a straight couple just has the builder in to pave the pool area…one partner invariably leaves to take up residence at a hotel for the duration.

In the restaurant you can tell who is heterosexual: the straights are always consulting their iPhones or looking at the door as if Katy Perry were expected to walk through any minute. (Or as they like, ungrammatically, to say here ‘momentarily.’)

Of course she has had the mandatory (in the Yooessay) boob enhancement and so much botox that her eyebrows are like those of a startled Kabuki dancer. But she is a nurtured woman. She is the embodiment of her husband’s success. Who cares if the relationship is more or less – more more than less – platonic. She is, as Germaine Greer wrote all that time ago, the dead heart of the family, spending her husband’s earnings on consumer goods to enhance the environment in which he eats, sleeps and watches the television.

Then there is the issue of creativity. More often than not, the gay gene is twinned with the artistic one. If Michaelangelo were straight the Sistine Chapel ceiling would have been painted a serviceable grey and done with a Renaissance roller.

If Karl Lagerfeld were straight…well lets not go there.

Gay people have their own language (cf Friends of Dorothy)….Jewish people lapse into Yiddish. Straight people just have “amazing.”

Perhaps, as Dotty Parker said ‘Heterosexuality is not normal it’s just common.

Disclaimer: The opinions in this piece are not necessarily those of the management.

Warning: Only Pet Lovers Should Read This

The flight from Cape Town’s DF Malan Airport – or whatever its current name is – to Dulles Airport, Washington DC was 28 hours.

My companion and only friend as I embraced the unknown, was a three pound Pomeranian called Tinytot Miss Tiggywinkle.

She was named for the hedgehog in the Beatrix Potter series. In order to have Tiggyangel with me in the cabin I had to fly business class.

Tinytot Miss Tiggywinkle

Tinytot Miss Tiggywinkle

I was leaving a life. And a loft apartment on First Beach Clifton (elevator access to the beach).

“Theeza eeza your last chanz to re-inventa yourselfa,’ said the Italian-American who had insisted I leave the country.

The mighty plane took off and soon Table Mountain and the fairest Cape were a faded tapestry.

Loneliness surrounded me like a high dark hedge. But my pocket-sized travelling companion, seemed to sense that I needed comforting. From time to time she would push her tiny black nose under my wrist.

“Pet me mummy! Pet me!”

When we landed I allowed Miss Tiggy to stretch her leg and explore while I attempted to find my luggage – a trunk with a Cape Times poster ‘Jani Allan Does It Again’ plastered on the top. She enthusiastically kissed the noses of the huge drug-sniffing Alsations.

I didn’t understand then – and still don’t – the American aversion to pets/pet hair/pet dander/pet breath etc in public places. Why, the shops of Knightsbridge are densely thicketed with Cavalier King Charles spaniels. Once I saw one in the Perfume Hall in Horrids.

In those first few months in Washington DC Tiggy and I were barred from all the Museums. When the cherry blossoms covered the banks of the Potomac we walked in Arlington Cemetery. At the Iwo Jima Memorial she did circuits and bumps to the delight of the Americans.

“My what a tiny lil DAWG!” they would say. And for those few moments I had human contact.

Back in my throat lozenge sized apartment it was insufferably hot. Tiggy and I would lie next to each other and I would stroke her tiny paws with an ice-cube.

When a job opportunity presented itself in New Hope, we struck camp and set off.

At Union Station, soon after boarding the train several inspectors and a large gentleman who could have been the mayor of Washington boiled up to me.

‘Ma’am you ain’t got permission to have a dawg on the train! There ain’t been a dawg on the train since ninteen fiddy something.”

In desperation I pretended I was both deaf and rather dumb.

“Thith ith a hearing dog…”

“Show us the papers!”

I took out her vaccination papers. There was a lot of scowling and tutting. Tiggy was quiet as a foxglove in her little traveller.

Finally ‘We have reason to believe you ain’t been too truthful to us, but this time we gonna let you go.”

I heaved a sigh of relief.

“Nice one,” said Martin Sheen, who happened to be sitting opposite me.

Tiggy and I had grand adventures. I remember the time we were on the top of a New York bus. It was as cold as a plate glass negative. I tried to keep her warm by tucking her inside my puffer jacket. We went to Broadway shows together, with her discreet in her traveller.

There were many times her auburn fur was damp with my tears.

When her tiny kneecaps starting giving her trouble I took her to an animal acupuncturist. Then an animal physiotherapist.

I took her in her perambulator to visit my friend Jeff’s kindergarten class. Her fan base at the restaurant grew. She was given tiny pink Ralph Lauren cashmere sweaters and once a houndstooth cape.

When the snow was as high as my VW’s roof, her body shrank to the size of a tiny bird.

But she lost none of her gumption. When I tried to dress her she made a noise like a little scooter.

She faded before my eyes. Her once luxurious coat was gone. Her huge tail now mouse-sized.

She entered into immortality in the early hours of April 16 2012.

I had hoped that after one year the grief I feel at her loss would be manageable. It is not. She left me when the magnolias were unfurling and the blossoms carpeted the streets like soft seashells…as they are now.

So I write this piece for you Tiggyangel, the little girl who travelled so many miles with me and negotiated the emotional topography of my life with me…

You were a heartbeat at my heart.

Don’t shoot me – I’m just the (food) porter!

It is said that one needs an Isosceles triangle of stability in order to be content.

One’s home life should be secure. One’s work should be stimulating (and hopefully financially rewarding) and one should be emotionally nurtured.

For various reasons I cannot lay claim to any of these conditions.

Furthermore, given that the average wage a server earns is a little over two dollars an hour, my financials (as Mr Micawber would say) are dependent on the grace of the diners.

When someone leaves a poor tip it is tragic. Worse, it is wounding. Damaging. Even maiming!

You’d think that because I live in a liberal county, money would be flowing like sand in an hourglass, but strangely ‘liberal’ doesn’t necessarily equate with ‘generous.’

Stupidly I see every table as a job interview. Often I feel as though I am found lacking: I am too old, too thin, too foreign….and possibly too…. clever?

On Monday night I was too clever.

I waited on a table of blokes from the mid-west. As has become the norm, at some stage of the night it is demanded of me to tell where I am from.

“From the kitchen,” I usually say. This response invariably elicits surprised laughter.

But on Monday night, Mr Minnesota became annoyed.

“She’s too smart for the likes of us,” he taunted. ‘She ain’t from Joisey.’ He thumped the table looking to his colleagues to endorse his view.

I was so mesmerised by a gob of Beechies gum that was migrating from the west side of his mouth to the east as he spoke like a mobile tooth (yes, in America grown men chew gum) that I hardly heard the threat in his voice.

When I took the cream and sugar to the table he affected to not know what a bowl of brown sugar was.

“Oh we are not worthy. We are not worthy.”

If giving is indeed the highest expression of potency I’ll wager he was endowed with a pair like wrinkled cashew nuts.

If one is stingy with one’s money one will be stingy with one’s emotions. I often wish I could tell the new girlfriend he’s trying to impress what a poor tip he has given me.

I want to scream at her retreating back ‘He’s the kind of man who will buy the inexpensive tickets…you’ll be so far from the stage Bob Dylan will look as though he could be hanging on a keyring!'”

Given that in America it is the norm to tip twenty percent, its perplexing there is a tendency to undertip. Not by a lot, but by say, a buck fifty.

Thus, instead of leaving a $16 tip on a bill that was $80, Mr Mingypants will leave $14.50 – after earnestly consulting the app on his iPhone 5 which tells him how much to tip.

Its just the tiniest little FU – one the size of the middle finger on a dwarf’s glove…

Haven’t they seen ‘My Blue Heaven?’ Steve Martin’s character says:

“I don’t tip. I overtip! That’s my philosophy!’

Thankfully there are some who do. No names no packdrill, you know who you are.

To the others –

Dear Customer,

I don’t know how many calories there are in the shrimp but I have heard it say that a foodie who thinks of calories is like a tart looking at her watch. Please don’t punish me because the oysters are too large, the steak too chewy, the fish too boney…its not even my fault that the table next to you was noisy.”

I am merely a food porter!

As Santayana said “Our dignity is not in what we do but what we understand.”

A Cheeky Little Nose….

A BYOB establishment provides plenty of opportunity for wine snobs to show off.

Depending on the size of the party, it can take a wheely bin or a perambulator to transport the wine from a black SUV to a table.

Those who are familiar with the process of a BYOB take delight in telling you (Special category of the Bleeding Obvious) that they will be needing….

“And I’ll want a….um…”

Yes, sir, of course sir, immediately. I’ll bring you an ice-bucket and some flutes for the champagne.

Those unfamiliar with the BYOB usually present you with a plastic bag filled with ice chips. Somewhere in the bag is a lone bottle of something you wouldn’t want to use to put out a fire.

“Are you going to be taking care of us?”

“Taking care of” is what they call it here. In my books you take care of someone with mumps. Or dementia. Or elderly men take care of those forced into the oldest profession in the world, as in “Ee took good care of me ee did. Ee was a good man…”

So you wait (because that is what waiters do) while Mr Wine Snob roots around undecided about what wine you should open first. His party are his captive audience.

“Let’s start with the Cab” finally suggests a man with hair that looked as though it were the main reason for Brylcreem’s success.

Mr Wine Snob puts his meat plate hands on the table.

“OK. Well, open the Cab and also open the Zinf.” Mr WS is clearly annoyed that someone else has an opine.

“But we don’t know what we are going to eat yet!” he says argumentatively.

In my books thinking that you HAVE to drink white wine with fish and red wine with meat is as silly and dated as people who wag a finger in your face and say “No white after Labour Day!”

“I know! Let’s start with the champagne!”

It is my fervent hope that the expression on my face doesn’t belie the fact that I know the difference between Dom Perignon and a little Prosecco picked up for $9.99.

“What’s this? What’s this say? I can’t read the menu…. It looks like Caramel 123…”

“Caramelized, sir. It says caramelized.” I explain gently.

I return to the table with six flutes. By now I can open a bottle of pop so that it makes as much noise as a moth landing. But those sitting at the table look dubious.

Six pairs of eyes like headlights with feelers follow my every move. Perhaps they are merely mesmerized by my barbed-wire veined arms and hands.

“Can you…er….”

“Bring you glasses for the red? Of course, sir, immediately.”

“And when you’ve done that open this one. It needs to breathe.”

I nod gravely while he sniffs the cork like a bloodhound.

Thinking that wine can breathe through the neck of a bottle is a nonsense. So is it a nonsense to decant wine that is next door to Fortris.

So is it an affectation to sniff the cork.

“Beaujolais Nouveau is a fun wine…” Mr Wine Snob has commenced a soliloquy. “It’s not too fruity, neither is it too primeur. It’s not flimsy…. To put it another way …it has a cheeky little nose.”

All six people are frantically swirling wine around and poking their noses into the Riedel crystal glasses. Swirl, swirl, swirlswirlSWIRL….some are swirling at 78 rpms….others at a more sedate 33 and third….

Two hours later they are still at it. A fungus of drinkers who have started to carouse – while sitting down – and behave like clots.

The Dread of Summer

In a previous life, I postulate, I must have been a mole. Cold and damp and dark is how I like it.

If I had known a little more about the weather on the Right Coast of the Youessay, I would have volunteered to be exiled to a place with a more moderate climate – say Papua, New Guinea.

No one told me about the heat and the humidity. In Washington DC you could fry an egg on the Iwo Jima memorial. Actually you could fry a full English breakfast on the Iwo Jima memorial. But then you would probably prefer to eat an American breakfast – a choice of cereals that come in colours better suited to yoga pants followed by a seven inch stack of maple syrup waffles washed down with Coke. Make that Diet.

In one week the thermometer ricocheted between 48 degrees and 88 degrees.

Yesterday was the kind of day Americans described as ‘gawgis!’ About 80 degrees, i.e. in my book deeply unpleasant. (When I used to cover the International Marlin Fishing competitions held in Mauritius I was happy to loll about on yachts while large fromages attempted to catch large fish, but being a server in the heat is another kettle of fish to mix metaphors.)

Being a ‘gawgis’ day is the clarion call to set up outside. This involves cleaning the tables of purple squirrel poop and carrying everything we need outside: chests of ice, water pitchers, glasses, cutlery….of course the bread-warming oven is inside, as is the coffee machine, so every time someone says ‘I think I’ll have another cup of coffee’ you have to scuttle back into the kitchen.

It’s as convenient as dragging a fridge around Ireland.

The most annoying people are the one’s who insist on sitting outside because its a gawgis day. Invariably they are the ones who hooked up on and this is their first date.

Last night I waited on one such couple.

SHE: ‘How lovely to finally meet you!”

HE: “You’re even more amazing in person!” (Subtext – that’s an impressive boob job).

Because they are so engrossed in the initial stages of the mating ritual they ignore you completely. It is only when the wine he brought proves to be corked that you are hailed like a London cab.

Miss is swathed in perfume. Her toe-nails are painted a fashionable Prussian blue. When she flashes me a false smile I am dazzled by veneers.

I smile back but my heart isn’t in it. My teeth, by comparison look like cheese straws.

(What IS it with Americans and Those Teeth?)

She is doing her best to look winning and engaged (at this stage in a manner of speaking) – tilts head slightly to right, nods slowly and encouragingly, eats like a bird etc etc.

Predictable, her perfumed bare legs become the focus of gnats. She starts to slap them, unobtrusively at first, but her agitation is incremental.

HE: “I think we should move inside! Miss? MISS!’ (Miss is what younger men call older women – i.e. an insult.)

“Can me move inside? My friend is being bitten….”

And so the feast becomes a moveable one….I have to lug everything inside to the safety of the air-conditioning.

Time was when I was the one being wined and dined. But times change and so do turn-ons.

When I stagger down the lane and open my front door and my Pomeranians tumble out to greet me my heart is filled with rose mist.

RIP Margaret Roberts Thatcher

“It will be years before a woman either leads the party or becomes Prime Minister” – Margaret Thatcher quoted in 1974.

Would that I could write a paeon to the Baroness of Kesteven based on her politics, but I do not consider myself qualified to do so.

Yes, her policy with regard to Rhodesia and South Africa left me a tad gobsmacked.

Yes, I am aware of all the rumours swirling about her son Mark and his alleged arms dealing. Yes, I know they called her Attila the Hen…

Yes, yes, yes, she loathed Socialism. (Any thinking person should.) But that’s a topic for another blog.

I write this little piece not because politics is my strong suit, but because recognising a strong woman is.

I also write this piece because I am faintly bemused by the hooligans in my green and unpleasant land, pogo-ing up and down and shrieking ‘Ding Dong the witch is dead!” while spraying each other with cheap champagne.

Why, I have underwear older than most of them. They weren’t yet born when Mrs Thatcher was the Iron Lady of the Western world.

They are cut of the same cloth as the ‘Rent-a-crowds’ that are useful idiots for all manner of causes. Their politics are not of conviction but ignorance. Their savageness comes from a well of weakness.

My memories of Mrs Thatcher’s resignation flooded back to me when when I heard that she entered into immortality on Monday April 8.

History in the making took place on Grey Thursday, November 22 1990 when Mrs Thatcher was whisked to the Palace in a shiny black limo to inform the Queen that she was resigning.

The woman who was elected three times by 30-million people was brought down by 130 of her colleagues. It was such classic tragedy that even The Sun lapsed into Latin on the front page.

“Et tu Geoffrey?” referring to Geoffrey Howe (Howe-Dull-Can-You-Get as the blats called him) was Leader of the House of CommonsDeputy Prime Minister and Lord President of the Council. His resignation on 1 November 1990 is widely considered to have precipitated Thatcher’s own downfall three weeks later.

With her passing it was the end of an era.

The stickier the wicket the better Margaret played.

“I’m still at the crease, although the bowling has been pretty hostile of late. And in case anyone doubted it, I can assure you there will be no ducking the bouncers, no stonewalling, no playing for time…”

Who was it who said “A witty woman is a treasure: a witty beauty is a power.”

Mrs Thatcher’s defence of Westminster’s ancient liberties, her cries that the Queen’s head on the coinage is the innermost symbol of sovereignty….all have been criticized and catalogued. Catalogue all you wish.

I mourn because there was only one Margaret Thatcher. There will never be another with her steel-spine. She was the best man in any parliament. An irreplaceable.

Curiously, within moments of her announcing her intention to resign, a strange hush fell over Albion.

Even Neil Kinnock, the Labourite to whom Thatcher-baiting was more of a way of life than a career, was uncharacteristically humble.

“She was far greater than those who turned against her.”

I remember driving my Mini to Downing Street hoping to catch a glimpse of the Boadicea of the 80’s.

Right up until the credit titles rolled, lorry loads of flowers arrived at the door of Number 10. A floral Birnam Wood was coming to Dunsinane.

The most impressive was an arrangement of 1000 red roses.

It was, in my humble opinion, a merely adequate tribute.

When the Leaderene is laid to rest on Wednesday the world will be diminished.

Making a Meal of Misery

The restaurant recently hosted a wake for a friend of the owner. Personally I have never understood how one can eat when one is grieving but then I suppose it depends on the depth of one’s grief.

A least 45 minutes before the morbid festivities were to commence an elderly lady tottered in.

“I couldn’t go to the funeral,’ she explained. ‘I had to have emergency dental work done. Which is the best table in the house? I want to sit down and get me some water so that I can take my medication.”

So getting old means you take, you count your pills and drink them with water instead of tossing them down with a shot of tequila as it is said Ozzy Osbourne used to do.

Perhaps that’s merely a rumour, but what is not is that Ozzy has claimed that

“I never took two (pills) of anything in me life.”

Most of the guests at the post-funeral gathering were in the metallic age -silver hair and gold teeth.

There were traffic jams of wheelchairs and an a veritable catalogue of walking aids on display.

What a valiant crowd they were. Obviously decrepit but not decrepit enough to turn down a chance to drink a thimble of Pinot Griggio (pee not griggiow as they like to pronounce it here) to their departed chum.

One of the guests had parked their old car outside the restaurant.

“Look!” the young Mexican dishwasher said to me. “That car is old. Like you!”

“Actually she’s probably older than that.” said a co-worker known to have attended the Goebbels school of charm. I thought the comment rather spiteful. When I am 100 he will be 90.

I felt a surge of compassion for the wrinklies in the restaurant.

Everyone knows that growing older is like being fined for something you didn’t mean to do.

My inspiration is Hokusai, the Japanese artist who died at 89 but didn’t start work on his masterpiece, ”Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji” until 1826 when he was in his late sixties.

Age shouldn’t matter unless you are cheese or wine.

“Oh sorry! We haven’t see each other for 25 years.”

Being a waiter in America is rather akin to being something between a nanny and a nutritionist.

First there is the encouraging that one must do in order to get people to actually sit down at their table.

Couple A is having dinner with Couple B. Clearly they haven’t seen each other for 25 years. The women do a lot of “Oh my GARD… look FABulous! You’ve had work done! You look aMAZE-ing! The men do a lot of back-slapping and harr-harring.
The reunion is taking place in front of the hostess’s podium.

“Sir….um….ma’am….would you like to sit down….this is your table…” I suggest.

I am ignored while they hold a caucus about whether they should put more money in the parking meter or whether they should move the car.

After an age, one of the men takes pity on me and says “Oh sorry! We haven’t see each other for 25 years.”

I arrange my face in an expression of politeness – i.e.organized indifference.

Eventually they settle and the women hook their expensive handbags on to those metal clips so that they won’t have to put them on the floor. (Americans take germophobia into another stratosphere.)

“Hon? Hon! Can you get a bag of ice for my finger?”

One of the wives waggles a perfectly healthy looking finger at me. Mine is not to question. I go into the kitchen and fill a plastic bag with ice.

Before I take the order I face a barrage of questions.

“I am gluten-free. Is there anything gluten-free?” One of the women looks at me like an anxious hamster.

“I’m on the point count diet” interrupts her friend. “Do you think I should have the salmon or the cod?

“I have a dairy allergy and he has a nut allergy…”

Mr Nut Allergy looks at me, half-bovine, half-sheepish.

“She’ll order for me,” he says looking adoringly at his wife, clearly an ageing hairdresser.
Mrs Teasy Weasy is to-ing and fro-ing about whether she wants Pom Freeties (sic) or mash.

When I finally get the order I scurry away and mutter under my breath

‘Forgive O Lord my little jokes on Thee

And I’ll forgive Thy great big one on me.’

Sacrificial lamb for Easter becomes an unrealised PeeAar-disaster


When I was a journalist there was less drama in the newsrooms while covering Bosnia- Herzogovina than there is in the restaurant in which I am now working.

It’s the kind of chic restaurant to which men bring women they want to impress.


Rejoice all my enemies – (come to think of it I used to have enemies of a higher caliber; the President of South Africa once described me as an “attention seeker”) I am, these days, waiting tables in sensible shoes and a bistro apron. Usually my hair looks as though it were combed with an egg beater.

Like eating an artichoke, waiting tables is a lot of work for a little reward.
On Easter Sunday a lamb is roasting on the spit in the courtyard. I avert my eyes when I go to the walk-in to get herbs (that would be ‘erbs’ as they say in the colonies.)

As a juvenile prank, one of the servers takes a photograph of the unfortunate creature and puts in on the Facebook page. The angle from which the photograph has been taken is alarming: huge tragic eyes, head lolling and the pole looking as though an act of sodomy was performed. In the background is a shabby split pole fence and a row of dead lilies.

As soon as the picture is posted there is a slew of outraged comments
“How fucking disgusting is that!” “I just puked” etc etc.

The server, a bully in an apron, fails to see that he has committed a Pee Aar gaffe. His cronies applaud him.

The chef dismisses it too. ‘These people never go out! They’re shut-ins!’ he explains.

Personally I think that if you partied in New York 24/7 you would still be shocked by the crudeness of the picture, but who am I? When I clock in on Aloha, it says ‘Server,”not PeeAar, or radio-show host or columnist.

And so a blog is born.