|Time to Pop a Confession!
Yes it’s actually true I left my bag on a train and only realised it on arrival at the Swiss Hotel reception. Yes it’s also true that our pet sausage dog (aptly named poppy for this post!) accidentally got stoned out of her tiny little and astoundingly-ineffective-anyway-little-brain. And yes it’s true. I smuggled a highly explosive bottle of Champagne into a French restaurant – good decision or bad one? The latter I think.
Perhaps I am now too incurably eccentric. If they don’t have decent wine, then what do they expect! So I took it upon myself to provide something a touch more, let’s say, sophisticated. After cursing the wine list before arrival and thinking ‘rip-off’ with every breath, I took a bottle of my own; well just in case. How dare they anyway – £55 a bottle too. That’s a £40 profit – sorry but principals. And it’s, at best, a flat watery, acid inducing stomach repeater, designed to sell to poor new couples celebrating something very special (their first bottle) of shampers and this is why people say they don’t like Champagne.
Champagne corks tend to explode when the bottle is too warm and if you transport the bottle in such a way that even mild knocking or moving the bottle will have the cork firing with military precision. This bottle was happily bouncing off my thigh on the way to a restaurant. It was also particularly warm.
I think we have all left bags on trains, we might all have seen a stoned dog, met a drunk horse on fermenting apples or some other animal in bliss. But have you sat in a restaurant and the bottle that you hide under the table explodes in quite a spectacular style. In a way, I add, that it might as well be the first rocket in a firework display to get the guests cheering? Or not, in this case.
The safety catch was off, all going to plan. Bottle in position, easing the cork a little , ready soon for a little top up, care of Angus Kennedy for my wife while we are having a nice meal together. Oops! Here comes the waiter. Both hands on table so he doesn’t see me looking suspicious. I feel like I am in an examination hall cheating. All going to plan.
Bang, no, ACTUALLY A VERY BIG BANG
Holy mother of … yes the bottle was now on the floor spewing out residues quickly forming a nice river to the next table. The cork, well that was a ground to air missile looking for its target.
I could read every word on my wife’s face. Actually in all fairness she was concerned about our vintage on the restaurant floor. Good stuff too.
“What was that?” Enquired the couple on the table next to us. Now the whole restaurant was looking at Angus Kennedy, including my wife. Get out of this one Angus. My wife’s head goes down. And I was wishing I could go and join my blissful sausage dog on a high as the waiters are homing in like wasps back to the nest.
“These kids toys you know.” I said to the already disbelieving couple next to us. IT’S PRETTY DAMN OBVIOUS IT WAS A CORK.
“They can make quite a crack, these toy guns you know – these guns.”
I then spot a rather proper well-dressed lady that looked like she was head of the women’s institute fishing the cork off her side plate with two fingers, as if she was disposing of a dead trapped mouse.
“And just what is this!” She said.
Should I apologise and admit? The French owner is coming over at great speed pushing waiters out the way to get there first. Ouch he’s also French. And an Englishman takes his own champagne in to HIS restaurant. Oops, could this be the start of another Battle of La Roche-Derrien. Or perhaps he doesn’t realise. Anyway come on, we are not drinking it. I muse.
Eat up, I’m thinking. Sophie has her back to EVERONE looking at us while she is looking down. The very annoyed lady is giving me almost uncontrollable death stares.
The restaurant is so quiet we could be waiting for the priest to say his words at a funeral. But this Champagne was Pommery, a great vintage too and a special offer from Carrefour on the way back from iSM! It was a really good bottle. This was my coup de grace of a special evening, even. The French owner might even want a glass or two – an olive twig offering.
I rise from my chair accused and guilty to my jury, but I declare, if they rip us off, what did they expect. Of course it’s not the way most people see it. Perhaps that’s what being stupidly eccentric is all about.
30 years of selling advertising and negotiating kicked in. “I can’t believe it.” I say to the owner, “we were on our way to a party and one of the kids must have loosened the safety catch. BRILLIANT, it worked. Conversation fires up Lady starts to butter her role.
Am I forgiven? Hey. I rescued the dog by the way. And yes I got my bag back from the amazing Swiss people and their railway system.
We took the opened bottle to the next-door pub to stay warm. The cameras spotted us in a jiffy, the bottle, mum and dad were all thrown out of one of the roughest pubs in Kent. Result! I hated it anyway.
I’m pretty certain out of all the good things I do most of the time, this will pop up in the wedding speeches till eternity. Oddly my kids are curiously proud, my dad breaks the rules too you know. Whether that’s a good thing, I don’t know, but sure makes another fine true story.
Enjoy the weekend with or without breaking a rule or two.