"...the people-watching is nonpareil. You rarely see blondness this improbable, cosmetology this transparent, wealth this flamboyantly misspent.
And while that isn’t cause enough to visit Harry Cipriani, it’s consolation if you must."
Let us consider this waiter in the cafe. His movement is quick and forward, a little too precise, a little too rapid. He bends forward a little too eagerly; his voice, his eyes express an interest a little too solicitous for the order of the costumer. And there he returns, trying to imitate in his walk the inflexible stiffness while carrying his tray with recklessness of a tightrope walker. All this behaviour seems to us a game. He applies himself to chaining his movements as if they were mechanisms, the one regulating the other. His gestures and even his voice seem to be mechanisms. He gives himself the quickness and pitiless rapidity of things. He is playing. He is amusing himself. But what is he playing? Of course, at being a waiter. The game is a kind of marking out and investigation. The child plays with his body in order to explore it. The waiter plays with his condition in order to realise it. This obligation is not different from what is imposed on all tradesmen. Their condition is wholly of ceremony – the public demands of them that they realise it as a ceremony. There is the dance of the grocer, an auctioneer, a tailor. A grocer who dreams is offensive to the buyer, because such a grocer is not wholly a grocer. Society demands that he limit himself to his functions as a grocer, just as the soldier at attention makes himself into a soldier-thing with a direct regard which does not see at all, which is no longer meant to see, since it is the rule and not the interest of the moment which determines the point he must fix his eyes on (the sight "fixed at ten paces"). There are indeed many precautions to imprison a person in what he is as if we lived in a perpetual fear that he might escape from it, that he might break away and suddenly elude his condition.
At economic moments such as this, what we all need (second only to a few 24-carat gold bricks in a safety deposit box) is a good giggle. For those without access to liquid temazepam, laughter is the best medicine for terror and blind panic, and on this basis I must thank Andaman By Dieter Müller for a hilarious lunch.
But then this, as my friend had been so quick to appreciate, is a restaurant in only the barest technical sense. This is a clip joint of a shameless brazenness the like of which I cannot recall. A year ago, it would have induced raging dreams involving gelignite, because then it would have made a mint from City bonus boys going doolally with that wine list. But not, God be praised for silver linings, any more
..I've never known such unleavened casino gloom as at Manchester's 235 centre - and this without wagering a thrupenny bit. "This is just... just..." murmured my friend as we were seated in Linen, a vast but sparsely populated space a flight of stairs above the gaming floor. "Why have you brought me here? What makes you wish to cause me pain?"
Why footballers and their womenfolk would wish to dine here, I've no idea, but if the presence of Cristal champagne and high-backed thrones in the salon privée behind us left a shred of doubt about the target clientele, the presence of "traditional prawn cocktail" removed it. What the chef removed, meanwhile, was the traditional texture and taste of frozen prawns, so that in a blind tasting you'd have lumped the mortgage on tofu. The sauce Marie Rose was, weirdly, really rather good, but my friend's oak-smoked Goosnargh duck breast was not.
After the revolution there will be no more restaurants and we will all serve each other.
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