Friday night in The Cow. ‘I got a new job, Mr Gray, have a glass of champagne with me’. ‘I’d rather have a Talisker – just waking up actually, I dozed off waiting for you’.
I approached the bar tentatively. ‘I’m celebrating, Luca. Have you got some freshly opened champagne please?’ ‘Lunchtime’ he replied with a cursory glance over his shoulder as he reached for the bottle. He poured me some to taste. I nodded.
‘I’ve said hello to our waiter – I shook his hand in fact, then I had a chat with Luca – he was very smiley’ said Gray. ‘He loves you’ I replied. We looked at the menu. There had been a makeover – ‘Bloody hell Gray it looks like a financial services corporate brochure – what the hell is going on? It’s everywhere! You just can’t get away from it’. We ordered the devilled mackerel .
Gimme All Your Lovin’ boomed out of the loudspeakers followed by Dude (Looks Like a Lady) – we head banged.
‘Pudding?’ We looked at the blackboard. ‘Hmmmm, a chocolate pot with raspaberries’. Thank goodness: I was beginning to think order and the corporate world had got the better of The Cow. ‘Thing is if we get that we might have to send it back on the grounds that they give us raspberries and not ‘raspaberries’ – too risky’. ‘Let’s try the apple strudel with the ginger ice cream’. It came and we ate it. The waiter, he of ‘Cramblegate’ said, smiling ‘Oh, I see you like this one – you finish it’.
We paid. Mr Gray helped me on with my layers and we headed to the bar. I needed to ask Luca if I could reserve a table for my birthday. Given the shenanigans on our last visit, I wondered if this would be possible; I needed Mr Gray by my side. ‘Luca, I was thinking….?’ He looked at me, no smiles, ‘No, we can’t reserve’. I nudged Mr Gray. He smiled at him. Luca smiled back: ‘No, we can’t do it’. Someone bumped into us. We looked behind to find a man staring intently at the whiskeys laid out on the bar shelves with a friend at his side. ‘I think those are two of the Chilean miners behind us’ said Gray, ‘Go on, ask him how he coped’.
We left, and despite the tepid reception, I knew there was no place I’d rather be for my birthday.