We had been warned by e-mail that there had been “huge demand for The Opera Restaurant and … it is going to be very cosy. We will be relying on the Dunkirk spirit.” The management evidently not having grasped the idea that it might be an idea to restrict bookings to the maximum number of people that can be comfortably accommodated, even though it is the principle on which every successful restaurant on the planet seems to be run. I then received a phone call asking whether I would mind sharing a table for four with another couple to help them out. I suppose if I had actually been on the beach at Dunkirk, with the Luftwaffe strafing me and artillery shells raining down, I might have been prepared to compromise. As it was, I merely pointed out that it was my birthday and I had been hoping for a romantic dinner a deux with my beloved wife. So we ended up, rather embarrassingly, with what appeared to be the only table for two in the entire place, shoehorned into a window recess and in close proximity to a party of four middle-aged legal types. This enabled us to derive full benefit from all the obiter dicta of one of those judges who thinks, wrongly, that he has a gift for comedy and is the absolute life and soul of the party. How I should love to have been able to see him don a black cap and sentence someone to be hanged. Though not as much, I suspect, as he would.
Then we drove back to the friends who had so kindly volunteered to put us up for the night, and I washed down the birthday cake they had kindly made for me with a generous amount of fine malt whisky.
And so another year of my life gurgles down the lavatory, as I always strive to say instead of “toilet”.