Friday, July 24, 2009

Works canteen (oh, joy!)

THIS may be the Premiership of newspapers, but the nicknames are really only League Two standard compared to the wonderful world of Meeja Wales. Having said that I guess I invented most of them so pretty soon my work will have to start here in earnest, too.
At the moment the ambience is very much like that I imagine exists in the dressing rooms of Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and the like. For instance, there is no Prince of Darkness and no wonderful Withers of the World. Instead we have Macca (the boss), Dykesy, Jonesy, Jimmy, Jakey (I expect, though only knowing him slightly I just call him Jake) and Critch. Hmm.
Anyhoo, they certainly know how to dine in the manner of Premiership stars. Instead of visiting the Withered Rose around the corner, which has been the norm, on Thursday the boss took us to La Strada, a very posh little Italian bistro right on the marina. Marina in Wapping? You've got to believe it.
A very pleasant afternoon was had to, with our waiter providing us with an endless source of amusement.
I don't know whether he has seen me on YouTube but when I ordered the Peroni he warned: "That is a bit strong, sir. It is about 5 per cent. May I suggest the bottled beer."
Hmm. So stunned was I that I relented. But stranger things were to follow from our medically qualified Italian host. When Macca, who is on a six months booze-free diet (what on earth has happened to the nationals since I last worked here?), ordered a lemonade he was told: "Are you sure? We have some really good wines. You really should have some wine. Would you like to taste this lovely little number?"
I thought the boss might explode but he managed to cool his temper and wave away the insistent helper. As our waiter was leaving he pointed out: "Bloody hell, lucky I'm not Paul Gascoigne. Imagine trying to resist that kind of pressure."
Best laugh, though, was reserved for my old mate Bobby Bowden, the deputy sports ed who is mostly responsible for bringing me to these parts. Bobby makes Twiggy look pretty overweight, but when he ordered his meal the waiter warned him: "It's a bit heavy, sir, are you sure you wouldn't want something lighter?"
"Oh no, that's fine I am quite hungry," said Bobby.
"Well, if you insist. But some of these are much lighter."
How we laughed. It became the butt of our jokes after Bobby polished off his lunch with room to spare. The fear was he might not be able to fit through the turnstiles on the way back into Fortress Wapping.

Thursday lunch meant that today I had to take it easy. Fortunately there is a fab canteen here. It takes about half an hour to get there, though, through probably the longest working building in the world. When I first came for an interview I arrived at security two minutes early. By the time I got to our little outpost I was about 25 minutes late.
Doesn't help when you finally reach the canteen and really you have left your pass behind. There follows another long walk back to the office. Safe to say I think I have done a London half marathon today ahead of schedule. Still, it is worth it. Four different counters selling four different types of grub. Maaarvelllous, as Marvellous David might say.

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