The surroundings were familiar. Yes, it was indeed another swanky awards do *yawn*, just pass us the gongs and we’ll be on our way, I suppose. Except this time, things didn’t pan out quite as you may imagine...
On the evening in question, we were attending the Food & Travel Magazine 2013 Reader Awards Gala Dinner at The Savoy. We had been nominated for the Specialist Retailer of the Year award. Very nice indeed. It was surely in the bag, I mean, they wouldn’t have invited us to the dinner if it wasn’t in the bag… right?
[I should probably point out at this stage that we are only joking! We're obviously flattered to have been nominated by such a prestigious publication.]
Justin and I with our compere for the evening, the hilarious (and tiny) Lucy Porter!
It wasn’t too long before our category was up. The compere, Lucy Porter, announced the nominees and there was much whooping and cheering in the grand Georgian dining hall as she reached our name on the list. Whooping and cheering that must have come from at least 2, perhaps 3, noisy people sat right at the back of the room. We composed ourselves for the long walk to the stage, pausing only to ponder how this really was an unusual place to sit award winners.
“And the winner of Specialist Retailer of the Year is…”
We each straightened our attire and began to lift ourselves up from our seats. It is at this point, however, that events become slightly confusing. The lovely Lucy Porter appeared to have mixed up some of the letters in ‘Master of Malt’, in fact, it sounded as if she had used some different letters, which were being used to form entirely different words. As Lucy (of the MoM variety) and I exchanged perplexed glances it slowly dawned on us that it was the name of another retailer that had just been read out... How could this be? What was going on?! This had certainly never happened before! The Ginger who? Well they sound like a bunch of pork choppers. Has this ceremony been organised by the same people who run Australia's Next Top Model?
At least we didn't do a Zoolander! (It was touch and go.)
Justin, who hadn’t yet moved a muscle (and was therefore still hovering a couple of centimetres above his chair in the manner of the grand old Duke of York), made a scarcely audible, high pitched vowel noise shortly before a peculiar glint seemed to enter his eye. It was a glint that we had seen once before, that time we decided to wind up Dr. Bruce Banner ‘to see what would happen’.
Justin, it appeared had just reached a 2 on the Banner Scale.
Before we could do anything to stop him, he launched into an unbelievable tirade of expletives and began aiming vulgarities and insults at everyone in the vicinity!* He told Andrew Wildsmith of Hipping Hall in Kirkby Lonsdale exactly where he could stick his exceptional 3 AA Rosette dining experience at his modern country restaurant before lashing out at the chaps from Mark’s Bar in Soho! He told them to go off and mix another one of those drinks that happened to feature in Mad Men (you know, the ones bartenders never get bored of making) and also that their favourite programme, The Sopranos, wasn’t even that good! Scathing and totally unnecessary comments that Justin probably now regrets.
Frankly, it was embarrassing, and I think Lucy and I must have known that even at the time. That must have been why we energetically pointed at each person Justin addressed and shouted “Yeah!” repeatedly during any pauses.
We’re only kidding mister, we don’t want no trouble...
Luckily for the organisers, they had prepared for this eventuality by hiring The World’s Tallest Man to maintain order (/wait tables).
The World’s Tallest Man looked even taller next to Lucy Porter!
Lucy, Lucy, Andrew Wildsmith, Justin and The World’s Tallest Man (in muchos pleasing ascending height order).
We took pictures of The World’s Tallest Man until it started to get weird. Then Lucy (of the MoM variety) took several more.
James from Mark’s Bar still looked upset though. I think that thing about The Soprano’s really cut him deep.
Having sufficiently cooled off, we thanked The World’s Tallest Man for his riot-preventing physical presence, photogenic qualities and all round affable character. We had successfully avoided being thrown out, and now also decided against storming out. Had we come to to terms with the horrendous misjustice that had befallen us? Perhaps. Or perhaps it had more to do with the fact that we’d seen the menu...
I suppose we could stay and try these guys’ dishes. If we have to.
(The vegetarian alternatives were rather special too by the way.)
Later, we met Tom Kerridge from The Hand & Flowers, who kindly created our main...
...and Michael Caines too, who created our dessert (and looks genuinely concerned about me here).
His dish even had popping candy in it! Win!
It was very much like being inside the television show Great British Menu, with Angela Hartnett, Nathan Outlaw and Paul Ainsworth all in attendance too (and picking up awards). Speaking of television shows, our new friend Mr. Wildsmith (who, if this narrative is to be believed, got over Justin’s abuse remarkably quickly) had his restaurant featured on The Trip, of course!
Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon at Hipping Hall
Bar of the Year, by the way, went to The Bon Vivant in Edinburgh. Unfortunately we didn’t manage to catch up with them on the night, but I did pop in the other day during the Fringe festival for a Bathtub Gin Negroni and some dins. Top stuff.
The end of the awards ceremony and the beginning of the ‘discoteque’ seemed to be the cue, slowly at first, for the majority of the guests to make their exits. Not these guys though.
I’m not with them, really I’m not.
Hold on, haven’t we seen these moves at the bottom of another blog post?
So it was. We hadn’t won anything but we’d had an excellent evening. There’s always next year and there are plenty more awards coming up such as Best Independent Retailer at the 2013 International Wine & Spirits Competition, which, thanks to your votes, we are now in the final round of. Fingers crossed!
I’ll leave you with a little more Michael Caines... or was that Caine?
(Sorry Michael, it is an excellent clip though! Couldn’t resist!)
“Hello there. Do you fancy a long drive tonight?”
(Meanwhile, I enjoyed my short walk home.)
* Not really! As mentioned, we aren’t actually terrible people...