I really appreciate the kind words that so many of you have shared with me regarding my little stories. You are all so forgiving of my ramblings, punctuation and dangling participles. Thank you.
I don’t really know what makes these memories pop into my head but they do, and when they do, sometimes they make me smile. It’s the memories that make me smile that I like to share with you.
Most of my tales are truthful, or maybe gently embellished, but mostly true to my memories of the way things actually happened. TWWNCNBUIP says that the song “I Remember It Well” could have been written about the way I recall special moments. I get the gist but maybe not all the finer details.
Usually my memories of those long ago days come flooding back when I run into someone that I haven’t seen for many years. Last Saturday night that very thing happened. Two very old friends and former Red Lion co-workers, Francis and Armando, dropped by the McGonigels Mucky Duck. I hadn’t laid eyes on them in over a decade but the minute we sat down to visit it was like we had never been apart. We started sharing stories of the people that we used to wait on at the Lion and we ran out of time before we ran out of memories.
Francis recounted the time that Ms. Bonnie was called upon to prepare a roast leg of lamb for a pretty famous fellow. A record label exec had called the Lion to inquire if we could prepare roast leg of lamb for a small party the next evening. He said that they would “settle” for our lamb chops, but they would so very much prefer if we would make the roast leg of lamb because their guest of honor had expressed a keen desire for roast leg of lamb.
Did we offer roast leg of lamb? No.
Would we? Of course we would.
First thing to remember about those long ago days is that there was no Google and without Google we had no way to know the “Top Ten Ways to Roast Leg of Lamb” so how did one brush up on their lamb roasting skills?
Well, one way would be to consult a cookbook, of course.
But we didn’t have to go the cookbook route because our meat purveyor, Main Packing, was operated by several European trained chefs and they were always most generous when it came to sharing knowledge of how best to prepare the fine meats that they sold. So we called MP and asked “Is it possible to get leg of lamb for tomorrow’s delivery…and by the way, how do we best prepare it?”
The answer was yes they would deliver it in the morning and yes they could tell us how to prepare it, but as it turned out, those instructions weren’t necessary because Ms. Bonnie worked at the Lion back then and she knew all about how to roast a leg of lamb. And how to make the mint sauce. And of course how to perfectly prepare the roasted potatoes.
We didn’t know who the mystery guest was going to be, it was all so hush-hush, but we were all aflutter wondering who it might be. Fee Fi Fo Fum.
The next evening, all the record folks started arriving, enjoying cocktails in the Churchill Pub first, followed by dinner in the Guv’nor’s Room, our private dining room upstairs. With the cocktail hour over and still no famous recording star in sight, we started thinking that the guest of honor wasn’t going to make an appearance until, just before we wheeled out the cart with roasted leg of lamb, we spied a spiky mop of blonde hair pop around the corner.
Yep. Sir Rod Stewart. We were all pretty excited. Especially TWWNCBUIP. She actually had her Rod Steward lp (that’s what we called them back then) in the office. She was a fan, still is.
Let me tell you, old Rod was a lot of fun and totally down to earth. He toasted everyone with an Old Peculiar. He was warm, gracious and approachable. He was with his girlfriend, Kelly, and he showed her all around the Churchill Pub. He explained all of the Churchill memorabilia to her and even got a bit misty eyed over one of the framed newspaper stories about Sir Winston. And he sent his compliments to Ms. Bonnie for her perfectly prepared lamb.
Now, our staff never intruded when the famous folk visited, no matter how approachable they may have seemed. No autograph seeking, no selfies. (Well, there were no selfies way back then, were there? One had to keep a camera on hand for photographs.)
But, now, here’s the cool part.
When the evening was over he thanked every single one of us for a perfect evening, and then he asked if the staff would care to take picture with him.
Of course, everyone was very excited. We all went outside and posed by the London taxi. Rod posed with the crew and had his arm around TWWNCNBUIP.
Everyone was beaming. I took the picture. In fact, I took several, because one can never be too careful with those Kodak memories. After the photograph session Sir Rod signed matchbook covers, napkins, and much to the delight of TWWNCNBUIP, the liner notes of her album. What a night.
The next morning I hurried to get the film from the camera to take it straightaway to get it developed (remember when we had to develop our pictures?) and lo and behold, I made a discovery that has haunted me to this very day.
There was no film in my camera.
I went in to ask TWWNCBUIP if she would still love me if I told her that there was no film in the camera. “Ha ha” says she. “That’s not really very funny.”
“I know.” says I. “I know.”
We are rounding the corner on 50 years so I think the answer was “yes” to my question but I am still hoping that Sir Rod gets another hankering for a roasted leg of lamb because I’d sure like to get that picture.