I've been in and around London for a few days, always an enlightening experience. I think of Eliza Doolittle's Dad, Alf, who, just before signing " Get me to the Church," intoned, " There are drinks and girls all over the town and I have to track them down in just a few more hours". It always seems to me that that is the real business of London. All we ordinary folk bustling about are only there to provide the background.
So here's a tale to gladden your hearts on a Wednesday afternoon.
It seems that an ex-Ambassador ( no names no pack drill) has been having a bit of a hard time recently, but, of course, he continues to have very good connections at all sorts of levels of society. He puts these connections together with other people and takes a small commission for doing so.
A VERY senior executive of a certain American multinational, who had come up the hard way from what I can only describe as the uneducated and backward areas of the States, wanted a particular introduction to a certain group of people, and the ex-Ambassador was just the chap to do it.
A fee was agreed, and it was also agreed that the way to do it was to set up a dinner at an exclusive restaurant, where the group would just happen to be and they would be invited to join the executive and the ex-Ambassador at their table.
All was going absolutely swimmingly. Then one of the ( admittedly educated and worldly wise) group ordered some dish with truffles.
Now in all the best restaurants, a plate of truffles is brought, from which, after smelling and feeling the various fungi ( I shall be shot for referring to them as that), one is chosen for the dish. And a few slivers are grated into it.
Our executive thought he would like the truffle dish too.
The head waiter brought a silver salver with 5 creatures ( let's call them that).
As the executive was the host, the maitre d' took the plate to him first.
The executive promptly ate the one nearest him.
There was an aghast silence.
Then he ate a second one.
Then he cut the third one in half, and ate one half.
With shaking hand, the other truffle orderer picked up a truffle and ate it. Then the second. Finally, glancing about the restaurant ( since everyone there was riveted by the spectacle) he ate the final half.
" Not bad," said the exec. " Not too heavy, and quite tasty."
Naturally, the educated one was performing the equivalent of drinking the water from the finger-bowls, so as not to embarrass his host.
The conversation finally got going again, and it would appear a mutually profitable arrangement was made.
Now the ex-Ambassador, being no fool, knew that the bill was going to be of such an enormity that the exec would almost certainly make a scene - which, in the polite society at the table would almost certainly lead to no deal being done, and prejudice his commission.
So he whispered to the exec that it was impolite for the host to ask for the bill ( sooo common) and he should just slip him his credit card, and he would take care of it all.
Don't ask me how he managed without a PIN, but it seems he did.
Commissions were paid, business was done, everyone was very happy.
The explosion didn't take place until a few weeks later when the exec's credit card bill arrived back in Idaho ( or wherever).
The dinner for 6 had cost nearly $20,000.
As the ex-Ambassador said, " You know, Mr. King, sometimes it is good for the soul to have it scoured.One has to pay for education"