11 July 2012

Contradian London: The Client & The Guinea

The Guinea Grill, 30 Bruton Place, Mayfair

"You're my beast of burden, Tinseth." He said Tinseth with a 'z' instead of an 's' and it always annoyed me. "I'm what?" I asked. "My donkey. You do my heavy lifting, mate." And I did. I was also well compensated for it. He was my biggest client and he was and is a friend. I'm proud to say he invited me to his wedding... both of them.

The Lamb Tavern, 10-12 Leadenhall Market

Holding pints, we stood outside the Lamb Pub in Leadenhall Market. He asked about another client of mine and a competitor of his. I lit a Silk Cut and spit a stream of disgusted smoke at his chalk striped shoulder. "How would you feel if they asked me the same question about you?" He laughed,"I suspect they already have," and took a sip of beer. We pause to watch a beautiful broker in high heels and a mini skirt walk drunkenly past us, her nail head heels slipping dangerously between the cobble stones.

The Tintin Shop, 35 Floral St, Covent Garden

I turned to him and, as he watched the broker stumble away from us, he said, "You're not being very forthcoming, Tinzzzzeth." The mother fucker had stones. And luck. He also suffered through a political incorrectness that took no prisoners at Lloyd's. His mother was English and his father Malaysian. We all had nick names. I picked up Tintin never realizing how lucky I was. His was the Slant Eyed Rice Monger.

The client didn't give a shit. He made millions and made others millions. A couple years ago we sat on the beach together a day after his second wedding. He asked why I was wasting my time writing and suggested I get back to a career I hated. He would help me and there were a lot of things he could do. I tell him I've dreamed of writing, 'tick, follow tock' for 30 years... and that I pass. I add we're probably still friends because he's no longer the client.

The Lloyd's of London Shop, 1 Lime Street

22 years ago, we had our first dinner in London at the Guinea. A pub/steak house that was smaller than a match box and was banging 12 on the virile meter with men tucked into Savile Row suits, Hermes swathed collars and tiny dining rooms. A loud American, with two quiet Brits, sat next to us. The American spoke from his diaphragm, like a drill sergeant or a trader at the Chicago Merc. Thunderous and more so when he asked the client, "WOULD YOU MIND NOT SMOKING WHILE I'M EATING."

Politically Incorrect Silk Cut Ad from the '70s

With elbows on the table, the client held the cigarette in one hand loosely folded over the other, and slowly turned to the American, "Yes, actually. I do mind if I don't smoke while you're eating." The client turns to me and says, "He isn't in America anymore," adding, "How is it, Tinzzzeth, that you Americans can eat mean little salads with iced tea in no smoking sections?" I laugh as quietly as I can and hear the American asking his waiter for a table in the no smoking section. "I'm sorry," says the waiter. "We don't have a no smoking section."


heavy tweed jacket said...

Interesting cultural perspective on Americans abroad. Reminds me of an American couple we and others had to endure at a B&B in the Lakes District a number of years ago. Lovely place and charming hosts, but the Americans were dissatisfied, asking, with a bit of a whine, "Do you have any dried fruit for the breakfast cereal?" I just smiled and worked away at my eggs and bacon...

John said...

Reminds me a bit of the great Whit Stillman film, "Barcelona:"

Spanish girl: You can't say that American's aren't more violent than other people. What about all those people killed in shootings in America?

American Guy: Oh, shootings, sure, but that doesn't mean that Americans are more violent than other people, we're just better shots.

KSB said...

I once had to entertain a higher up from the home office in the US who was in London at the same time I was. This guy was from Bumblefuck, South Carolina and was staying at The Connaught. I about died when he tried ordering a frozen margarita at the hotel bar -needless to say I quietly excused myself and cancelled our dinner reservations at the Sugar Club for that evening. We dined at the Hard Rock that night - he even bought tees for the kids and Mrs. back home.

As Noel Coward asked...........


Ben said...

Ooooooh. Young's bitter ...

Brummagem Joe said...

" was staying at The Connaught. I about died when he tried ordering a frozen margarita at the hotel bar -"

Great story KSB. Some of these guys from Bumfuck are hilarious. I once had a marvellously toe curling experience in a rather well known Parisian restaurant when some fellow citizen created a scene about vegetables and was asked to leave. The expression on his face. Then there was the guy who I left romancing some floozy in the bar of the Cinq who asked me (rather anxiously) a few days later whether French ladies of the night still had medical examinations. I'm still laughing.

Anonymous said...

The shoe cat didnt do it for me but damn! what a money shot when I watched the Guinea vid- thank!