Wednesday, 5 April 2006

Night out, Slightly style

It started like many other evenings with Master Slightly. A phone call or an email lamenting the wind-swept horizon of an empty evening with nothing planned. A suggestion to meet up for "food and stuff". The unexpected, this time round, however, was that Slightly, for cosmetic reasons (I would have to take a shower to feel at ease if he cycled to far), requested that we meet in deepest “sarf” London; in Forrest Hill, which he ended up reaching by train anyway.

After an aimless walk uphill and back to try and see some evanescent converted 1930’s hotel which had apparently in its hay-days offered shelter to Noel Coward and his lover as well as Agatha Christie, we decided it was time to try and get something warm inside our poor clamouring bodies.

The local Wetherspoon pub is located in the Capitol, a former music hall, where Mr Coward was, at some time, equally generous with his dear person as he was in the hotel up the hill, albeit in different ways. The impressive space was unfortunately mostly full and we found ourselves relegated to a darkish corner in what used to be the foyer of the venue.

After umming and arring over the menu for a few minute, Slightly did the gentlemanly thing and went to the bar to order. He even remembered to take note of the table number. Things were obviously going too smoothly. He was very quickly back with the news that food was not being served that evening due to the kitchen being closed…

We found ourselves in the now quickly darkening and cooling evening. After a short distance, Slightly pointed out a place called “Question” which he described, for reasons still unknown to me, as "good". After finding the right door (not the condemned one, Slightly!), we went in and sat at a table for four. The place was reasonably empty and welcoming.

Slightly again went to order our food (tonight was his turn to pay) and got chatted up by the waiter (so he says anyway) who also informed him that most of the people present had just walked in and that there would therefore be delays in the delivery of our burgers.

The place very quickly filled up until an elderly couple (in their mid 60’s) came up to our table enquiring about the availablity of the remaining chairs at our table. Slightly and I both thought they were going to take them to another table and were therefore rather nonplussed and discomfitted when the pair settled down in front of us.

Our dismay grew even more palpable when they both lit up…

Soon after this, the background music suddenly stopped and a voice announced the belated start of tonight’s quiz night session. No wonder the place was so popular.

After retrieving, in extremis, our cutlery which the man in front of us was about to dispose of to clear the table, thinking for some reason that we had already had our food, the said food was delivered and we started eating more or less in silence under the rather belligerent sideway looks of the female of the species.

Being French (that is in anycase Slightly’s explanation for the phenomenon), I like to eat my chips with mayonnaise. As is often the case in pubs in this country, the stuff is available in little bags hermetically sealed, which always require far more calories to open than they will eventually provide.

One of these little bags, a particularly recalcitrant one, ended up between my dainty figures and seemed about to win the battle thus engaged. After a few frustrating instants of trying to tear the drasted thing open, I appealed to Slightly and his, much publicised and barely proven, butchness for help. He must have been on a day sans…

After renewing my efforts, I left the field triumphant both of the mischievous bag of mayonnaise and of the unflattering indictment of my abilities, Slightly usually enjoys weaving.

In the meantime, the quiz had started and I could not resist taking a few peeps at the answer sheet of our new friends. Although they appeared to be familiars with the event (they addressed the waiter-cum-quiz-master quite informally), they did not seem to fare very well.

Slightly and I, perhaps uncharitably, mocked.

Having finished our food, and halfway through the second series of questions, dedicated to Sherlock Holmes, with the beats of what appeared to be a club in the basement growing steadily more audible in the background, we made our hasty retreat.

We walked a little more in the night, passing the local Sainsbury’s which is apparently (information provided by Slightly, there again) the gayest in London and very cruisy too. I can’t think how he knows these things…

As we progressed, I took great care, all too aware of Slightly’s limited abilities in this respect, to note the path we were following lest my guide (and I do use the term loosely here), should suddenly relinquish his role, however involuntarily…

On the way, we witnessed another example of the incredible and totally unexpected cultural life seemingly flourishing in those estranged parts. A man, (“and he is cute too”, quips Slightly), strumming his guitar, was singing to a disparate and spars audience on a pub stage.

By then my limited faculties had been strained to their limits by this foray into unknown territories and I decided it was time to hail a reassuringly familiar bus and make my shaky way to more welcoming skies. Slightly went to fetch his bike and, doing the manly thing again, took the train home with it.

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  1. I wish you would stop venting your sexual frustration for me in public on your blog, please this is getting embarassing.

    Besides, I have a kinda-dating-bloke now, what will he say.

    Slightly xxx

  2. sexual frustration???? You wish, lov!

    Is that all you could find?

  3. And while we're on the subject, I still have teeth marks from when you bit me the otherday. Can you please stop biting me in public.

    Look when I am single I might let you have your way with me, but in the meantime lets please stop your aimless pawing. :0)

  4. Can you remind me how/why your finger found his way to my mouth?

  5. You frogs! Eating chips with mayonnaise is a Belgian invention! Get with it!

  6. pas de probleme, une fois!



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