I recently told you how I’d been outdone in the fancy loo roll stakes by Tim, a golf chum. Need a reminder: Canadian wood, Japanese water, spicy food, toilet paper, fun!
It all came about after Tim Neill and his wife Kimberley returned from the orient with a host of stories, or “Timber & Kimber” as they like to call themselves. Tim likes that name you see as he’s made a fortune in the Scandinavian Log Cabin business (that’s what he calls his Portaloo Rental Company). Good times!
Anyway, the second Tim and Kim heard that Bieber was going to be in concert in Tokyo, they were off. They said they’d combine “all the things we love in one trip, Bieber, travel, and Chinese food”. What a pair of goddamn Philistines, always going on about knowing “the best Chinese Restaurant in Tokyo” when there’s a far better Kebab House on the same street, right beside a Michelin star winning Sushi Bar (skip it, they don’t do chips).
Sorry, I digress. First they had the maid stock up the pantry. A pantry by the way that was already up to the rafters with stuff like tofu and kale and seaweed and things with labels like foraged or deconstructed or heritage – because as Kim always says: “organic is so fu@*%ing last year” (what a sweetie, educated by the nuns don’t you know).
Anyway, you know the food I’m talking about, the crap they force into the kids while they tuck into steak & kidney pie with chips every evening, washed down with lashings of Blue Nun poured from a box on the table (a ‘bagnum’, you’re welcome). Sorry, I digress, the long and the short of it is: they took off for Japan.
Oh, before I get to that, here’s a quick anecdote. Before she met Tim, when she was just plain ol’ Kimberley Long, Kim had always had an affinity with all things oriental, “being called Kim n’ all”. However, after she got married, she wondered why she suddenly had difficulty getting reservations in certain upmarket restaurants and places like that, particularly the oriental ones. It hurt, largely because pals of theirs never had any such difficulties, well, almost never (ask me later). To Kim it felt like a horrible fall from the lofty heights of the Celtic Tiger as you can surely empathise with, but which I fortunately cannot.
This bothered Kim a lot, and the list of restaurants they frequented was diminishing rapidly, perish the thought. Finally, on a visit to their gaff for cocktails one Monday morning I figured it all out. Kim was on the phone, the conversation went as follows (the hell with punctuation, I’m writing this at lunchtime so the hand’s not too steady):
Hello, is that the Tokyo Gardens Restaurant?
It is, lovely, I’d like to make a reservation please.
Yes, table for two please, me and the other half this coming Saturday.
I trust you have space.
Yes indeed, nice of you to ask. It’s the anniversary of his birth.
You have a table, spiffing.
That’s right, a table for two.
Oh, and not by the toilets this time for God’s sake. By the window.
Yes, that’s right.
And not the window overlooking the taxi rank, as if I have to ask.
And not right inside the door either. And I don’t want that waiter with the acne we had last time we were there, God almighty. Nearly put me off my Tobiko Nigiri.
Got all that? Good lad you are!
The name, Neill.
Yes you heard that right.
Excuse me? Kim Long-Neill, that’s my name.
Huh, slower? Kim. Long. Neill. What are you, deaf?
No I’m not takin’ the piss!
What are you laughing at motherf&£@*er?
Yes I’m bloody serious. Kim. Long. Neill! Hello! Hello!
Motherf&£@*er hung up on me!
As much as it hurt me to do so, I had to make some simple facts known to Kim that she may not have been aware of before and indeed she may have been insulted to find out now, particularly about her manner on the phone which I felt left a little to be desired I’m sure you’ll agree – but you know, being a friend and all that. Have you spotted it? That’s right, she said ‘please’ twice – and almost in the same sentence.
As well as that, the whole tone of the conversation at the beginning was almost too polite, I’d even go so far as to say she sounded needy.
You know what the staff are like in some of these places (hint, better than you). So the snooty maitre’d (understandably in my opinion) thought she wasn’t for them as two uses of the word ‘please’ makes one seem desperately wanting. So, completely justified in my opinion, they wouldn’t risk having her set one Primark stiletto inside the shōji (door to you & me). I certainly wouldn’t have let her in. Think about it, their plastic chopsticks could be shaped into deadly shivs in just a few minutes in their little squat toilets, a splash of Chuka Tare to the face is as good as any pepper spray when sh*t gets real – believe me, been there – done that (Gandhi was asking for it that day, or was that a brandy induced hallucination?). Anyway, better not to risk it in my humble opinion.
To prove my point, ten minutes later I had Tim ring them up. He was completely and totally himself (arrogant to the point of wanting to give him a few slaps). But lo and behold, Tim had a table booked in his own name in jig time.
Ah, the benefits of common sense and good taste.
Strange as this is, I recall hearing a similar enough tale a few years back about a half Austrian-half Irish fella by the name of Adolf Switzer. I’ll tell you that one another day.
Sorry, I digress. What were we talking about?
PS. Sushi or Kebab & Chips, which do you prefer? Let me know.