Posts Tagged ‘lady’

Who is She?

Saturday, April 26th, 2014

This week I went to the Bay Horse pub in the Northern Quarter. I was with Sir Pubert Gladstone (He requested a pseudonym, so he got one.) who informed me of a ‘lady in a glass box’ located downstairs in the basement. I went to investigate and sure enough, there she was. A blonde, sunglasses-wearing lady staring at a bird in a cage. Who is she? And what was she doing in the basement of a fairly average pub? This lovely lady and a bit of Nick Cave and the Black Seeds have prompted the following story.

Lucy and the Bird

Lucy’s limbs flail as she dances in the corner of the Bay Horse basement to the music that only she can hear. She dances alone in an almost empty room, everyone else settled in booths sipping whisky and beer, conversation underway. She has been here before. Every night, in fact, for what feels like forever. Next to her a bird sits silently and motionless in a silver cage, watching the scene unfold. Only its eyes flick back and forth, back and forth as the clientele pass. Few people notice the bird and those who do are disappointed by it. A dry martini sits untasted on a small mantle next to a half-melted candle and a stack of Jim Beam coasters. Lucy has the same drink every night but never takes a sip. The owners don’t ask what she would like; they simply nod at her and pour. Her blank face shows no response, she simply treats the small glass as a fee for being there.

Lucy is given a wide berth as she dances, her eyes covered in dark, rounded sunglasses. Her peroxide blonde wig is dry and frizzy; fibrous strands pickup static charge as her hands brush past it. Her legs are encased in criss-cross stockings; shoeless, she dances unflinching as her feet stick to years of sticky alcohol accretion.

Upstairs the bell rings for last drinks and the small crowd finish the last drops of precious liquid, pull on jackets and leave. Lucy continues to dance in her corner, bar staff collecting empties and placing chairs on tables around her. A quick mop just for the sake of it, the final glasses washed and put away for tomorrow. The doors are locked and the lights turned off, leaving Lucy and the bird together in the darkness of the Bay Horse basement.

Lady at the Bay Horse

Lady at the Bay Horse

Here Comes the Harlequin

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

Tom and I hadn’t been out for a dinner on our own for a while so I asked him out on a date. Yes, I asked him. But let’s not get stuck on who did what to whom – I chose the restaurant and I booked the table. Seeing as I was paying, I booked through La Fourchette to choose the restaurant with the cheapest menu and biggest discount. I settled on a restaurant just up the canal from us called L’Arlequin Café – it had received decent reviews, it was close by and the menu sounded a-okay.

An hour before our arrival at the restaurant, a woman from La Fourchette rang me and said that there was no response from the restaurant and that despite me receiving instant confirmation that I had a table booked, our reservation had been cancelled. Great. It was too late to book another restaurant on La Fourchette so we decided we would still go to the restaurant and see if they would accept us anyway.

At 8pm we were the first customers for the evening (typical…) and the waiter who served us was very friendly and welcoming and said we could still have the La Fourchette discount, not a problem. And so we stayed. Something I really dislike is being the only people in a restaurant. For the two hours we were there, only one other couple arrived. It was a Wednesday night and clearly things were quite slow, but it is so quiet and you feel like you have to whisper. Luckily they had some utterly terrible music playing slightly too loudly so there was a bit of background noise. The other thing I hate is restaurants with televisions and L’Arlequin had almost-naked ladies dancing around in video clips for us to enjoy. Then the football started and we got to watch Real Madrid play Lyon. Lucky us.

The food wasn’t bad – Tom had duck and I had beef but really we could have ordered the same thing. Both plates consisted of our chosen meat, a pepper sauce served separately in a little bowl, two lettuce leaves with a little bit of grated carrot for extra pizzazz, and what were apparently potatoes. I say “apparently” because we both reached the same conclusion without discussion that the potatoes had come out of a packet. No one can peel potatoes that evenly and make little round domes that are all exactly the same shape. Plus they were coated in salt and had an “I am a potato from the freezer section” taste to them. Despite our difficulties to decipher between our two plates, both of us thoroughly enjoyed our chosen meats – my beef was tender, nicely blue as per French standards, and had far more taste than my last steak at Le Bistro du Coin. The pepper sauce was particularly good – spicy, flavoursome and not too creamy. The lettuce was lettuce and we’ve already discussed the potatoes. Tom’s duck was also very good so if they could have managed to chop and sauté their own potatoes then it would have been a really great dish.

Steak and potatoes

Lots of 'potatoes', giant lettuce and a little (Jess sized) steak

As per La Fourchette requirements, we had to have dessert in order to receive our discount. Quel dommage! Tom had a crème brûlée which was nicely set and contained real vanilla beans which is always a good sign. I went against my usual instant decision of the chocolate fondant, and chose the tarte tatin with vanilla ice cream. The waiter informed me that I had made a very wise decision and that it was going to be ‘bon’. Excellent. He was right. It wasn’t your usual tarte tatin – it had huge pieces of apple, caramelised and soft, on top of a soft but tasty pastry. The vanilla ice cream was homemade, creamy and delicious, and if they have avoided putting a whollop of whipped cream (from a can) on the side it would have been perfect. It was a truly wonderful, homely dessert and I had to resist ordering a second round as I licked the last of the caramel off the plate.

Tarte tatin

YUM.

As we sat feeling overly satisfied (stuffed) with our meals, we were then provided with some light entertainment. A noise suddenly appeared outside and a woman around the age of 50 walked into the restaurant talking very loudly about something, something, police, something. I recognised her raised voice and intense way of speaking from a week or so ago when I had been walking up Rue du Saint Martin wondering what on earth that horrible sound was. I then saw her standing next to a bus stop, talking very loudly into a mobile phone but I’m not entirely sure that there was someone else on the other end of the line. So here she was again, looking very upset and demanding to speak to a policeman. The Prefecture (Police station) is just across the road from the restaurant and the two waiters strongly suggested she headed over there. No. She declared she would wait in the restaurant until the police came. But none were on their way – yet. One of the waiters went across the road to announce the presence of a noisy lady in their restaurant but he returned sans-policeman, however stated that the police were on their way. At least five minutes passed between the waiter going over the road and the policemen coming to investigate. Clearly they either had more pressing matters or they were in the middle of dinner. They eventually strolled over, by which time the woman had given up and had decided to move on, wandering down the street and around the corner. Instead of walking at a slightly faster pace in the direction that she had headed, the policemen wrote down a description on the woman and headed back to the Prefecture in order to get a car so that they could patrol the area. Because she was walking SO fast.

I spent most of the time laughing at how useless the policemen were and at the strangeness of the whole situation. The waitstaff were very apologetic and dealt with the situation well, plus it provided a little bit of entertainment for the evening and helped me stop staring at the television screens.

Wow.

Monday, June 13th, 2011

What a morning. I only have two minutes to write this so I will keep it short. Tom and I got up early and arrived at Heraklion airport to find a mess of people trying to work out what queue to join to check-in and drop off bags. After pushing our way through we managed to get to our gate and then our plane was delayed (not by long, but still. Makes the story more exciting.) We had checked-in to our DIRECT flight from HERAKLION to PARIS which is why I am somewhat confused as to why I am currently sitting in ATHENS airport, using their free internet to write this while we wait for our NEXT PLANE to PARIS. There are a lot of very confused French tourists wondering what is going on. I’m not all that sure either. So not such a direct flight after all.

To make matters even more interesting, on the 35 minute flight between Heraklion and Athens I sat next to a woman who kept saying, “Oh very nice!” as Tom and I took our seats. As soon as I had fastened my seat belt she told me how pleased she was that we were sitting there and that she had been getting very worried as more and more black people and gays kept boarding the plane. Imagine if she had had to sit next to one of them! What on earth was she supposed to do then?! She then asked me where I was from and the conversation turned to Greece and how there are too many illegal immigrants who kill and rape people. And then she said, “You have Aborigines in Australia, don’t you?” and I responded with a particularly enthusiastic “Yes!” to prove that this was a-okay with me. I then almost choked when she then said, “They eat people, don’t they?” Apparently she had heard stories and refused to believe me when I assured her that the indigenous population of my home country were not cannibals and that she may actually find them quite pleasant people.

I can’t wait to see who I get to sit next to on this flight. I think I shall call this a mystery flight seeing as it is so unexpected. Actually, Tom and I are getting two flights for the price of one! Gosh we’re lucky folk. Thank you, Aegean Airlines.