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Just Desserts
by Jilliana Ranicar-Breese

One Christmas time in the late 80s, my Penny farthing, velocipede and bicycle collector client and friend American Pryor Dodge came to stay at our Noting Hill residence in the parallel road to the Portobello Road market, Kensington Park Road.

I had met Pryor in Paris when we both had been living there in the early 80s before he moved back to his native New York. Later in 1982 I stayed with him in his Soho loft on Broom Street which housed his vast important collection.

We didn't see much of our guest as he was out every night dancing Tango on the London Tango circuit. Classical music and Tango were his other passions having been immersed in this world since childhood. His  father, Roger Pryor Dodge, had been a professional dancer and Pryor had studied the flute to a high professional level. He was also visiting bicycle collections dotted around the UK and doing research for his lavish coffee table book in London to be later published by Flammarion in Paris.  

One evening Pryor invited Martin and I out for a 'Thank You' Christmassy dinner. I chose a restaurant in Bayswater that specialised in old historic British recipes which was in walking distance on a cold winter's evening. The owner catered to film companies during the day on their shoots but at night was the hostess but not with the mostess.

We ordered festive food but when it came to the desserts, Pryor could not choose from the 5 Victorian desserts, even though he was especially tempted by the traditional very British Christmas pudding. Instead he suggested we share all 5 traditional fayre. The waiter was Brazilian and so I ordered all 5 of the desserts. I don't know which language school he had gone to or whether he was 'loco', but eventually 5 waiters turned up with 5 dishes for EACH of us laid out up each arm.  We howled with laughter, almost wetting ourselves until we were almost crying. Mr Brazil was not amused and nor the owner who sided with the waiter and not her guests! How could any mortal consume 5 desserts? She must have been loco too!

No one said 'Good night' and 'Thank You' or showed us to the door with a polite 'Merry Christmas.'

Never to return so we thought!  

Sometime later Martin started to receive special promotional offers. Eventually these constant monthly promotions irritated him, as although the food was good, the attitude of the owner was zero. One day he decided to tell her what he really thought and so, in my presence, called her telling her to delete our address as we were never never coming back. He told her why in NO uncertain terms. Horrified, she apologised profusely and offered us a complimentary dinner with wine to make up for her behaviour. We HAD to accept even though, frankly, we didn't really want to.  

But what a difference in service and attitude that night as the red carpet had been laid down for us and all the staff in attendance smiling. I didn't see the Brazilian waiter that evening, perhaps he was at night school learning better English!

Written on the train from Brighton to London for 'The Colour Walk' at Spitalfields Market on 17.8.2017.
Performed at New Writing South's Spoken Word evening 'Come rhyme with me' with Dean Atta 10.11.17.