(Mature content: graphic language used)
We all got to eat, but some wanna make more than a meal out of it. I’m not talking about those special occasion meals, like your birthday or at your sister’s wedding. Mine threw a great bash. Shame she didn’t see what a waste of fucking space her fiancé was till too late. Could of told her if she listened to me, but that’s another story.
No, I mean the posh, gotta-be-seen, gotta-get-dolled-up kind where the food is on smaller and smaller plates. That’s a thing now, small plate restaurants. And tables around the kitchen where they make the food, so you guessed it, you can see your food being made. These people got nothing to say to each other. You can do this in Mac-e-Ds eh and its much cheaper. Maybe they got issues and want to be reminded of happier times when their ma cared for them.
My favourite which makes me want to chew on a pavement, is the 10,000 wines to choose from. No no, we’ve got 20,000 bottles. Or as we’ll discuss later, our winner this week, yes oh yes, can you feel it, here it comes, the 30,000 bottle wine list!
I can see them now, perusing the 30k wine menu sat on a bench around an open kitchen, suspended inside a sculpture of a fucking whale, in a fucking warehouse to hold all that wine. A warehouse built from discarded shipping containers, probably playing the sounds of some Indian street market on repeat. And it’s all to represent a fealty to our shared consumerism. But no it’s really meta ‘cos we’re all in on the joke.
But we’re not. We are the fucking joke. But not me.
“This is never going to work” says Davey’s reflection to me.
Ah Davey you wouldn’t get it. Once I tried looking at it from your side. I really did, cross my stoney heart. But its hard given your another fuck-head doing a job helping no one. Putting that aside, the guy’s day had been turned upside down by yours truly and I guess probably feeling like perturbed. Perturbed, yeah.
We’d got in the lift to ascend and sit in another whale. I ask my new partner this very question “you’re perturbed aren’t you, that’s it eh Davey?”
He tries not to look at me, but he can’t help himself as we stand waiting in the shiny metal box being dragged with speedy function up, up. Our two reflections stand, staring at each other. I bust a little footwork to break the tension. It doesn’t work for Davy. He ain’t chuffed, no not one bit.
I check my reflection. Sunglasses on, wicked suit, looking bang on I know it. And underneath, lean like a switchblade knife.
What can I tell you about my partner. He’s not like Marilyn Myers, the “best known restaurant critic” in these lands. No, she didn’t offer what I needed. Scheduling conflicts. I want to get rich now thank you. But Davey did, exactly what I needed on a silver small plate.
David Chase, Davey to you and me, was the other best known restaurant critic. Standing, all pissey, he’d spent months lining up his 24-hour restaurant tour de force of the most over-priced shiny turds the city had to offer.
If you asked, he’d probably waffle on about the countless hours planning and all the promises he made kneeling, sucking his contacts dry. He did land that daily column with some so-fucking-so fashion magazine who were footing the bills. And they’d given him an assistant. A very handsome assistant I can confirm.
But the mistake started with all his postings online. Working it hard, staying up late, loving the public gossiping, even the little spate with Marilyn he initiated. Davey-boy’s thumb actions shooting his sarky replies. Attention, upon attention upon attention.
But now I was stalking him. I had a plan and I needed a way in. A key. And the more I read and watched Davey-boy, he became the one. The shiny access key I wanted.
And with my artful dodgy skillset put to good use, it wasn’t long before I’d gotten into Dave’s flat, Dave’s bar — cunt actually had a bar — and Dave’s laptop. After what I found on there, my plan was a go go. Emails sent, the contract assistant was sent away and yours truly now had the gig.
In no time at all I was right up his arsehole, one hand yanking on his spine — which I found surprisingly lacking — the other wrapped round his balls. He’d do what I want.
“Fuck you” said Davey’s reflection.
“Now David, you have 45 minutes in this Excelsior turdstick, before we move onto number three of our little tour. This one you’ve got chef’s table access and the interview with Dolma, said chef. Keep it snappy and get me in the fucking cellar eh.”
“It’s showtime.” The lift chimed, doors slid noiselessly open and they entered someone’s idea of proper mint luxury. The view was spectacular I’ll give you that. Sheets of water fell on three sides to form a hall outside the elevator. Beyond the water-walls, this enormous restaurant ran all the way to floor to ceiling windows which overlooked the city. The excess of all this simplicity caused very different reactions in Davey and I. I’m damn sure of that.
The maitre-d stood waiting, smiling like a best bloody friend welcoming you into her own home.
“David, it's wonderful to see you again. How long has it been?”
The little asinine fuck! Unbegotten flea from one of those northern sewer cities time’s forgotten I bet. This emancipated stick in his ill-fitting suit…I bet he thinks its actually fashionable somewhere.
This was my day, David Verinon Chase’s day! Planned to within in an inch of its life. With a glorious path to a real book deal. This close!
What is this pounding in my head? Could this day get any worse?
And how the hell did he get in my laptop? This feels like something out of an airport paperback. Me, caught in some scam. A fucking food critic. If I wasn’t so fucked, I’d be embarrassed.
“This is never going to work” I say out loud. And to myself, may your spawn never see the light of day. I am a journalist damnit. What I say is important to people. A very select and worthy group of people, with class and yes, money.
And we, the few, live in the bloody capital city where real newsworthy things happen. Not in some, towering estate full of Northerners.
Maybe that silly TV show had it right. There should be a wall. Though if I had my way it would be not much further north than Finchley. In fact, I’d put Finchley Central on the other side of the wall.
And now he’s dancing. This deranged fool who’s going to destroy my career! All the shit I’ve put up with: abominations of fusion cooking, gods-awful wine, dealing with malignant chefs and their pig ugly restaurant owners. Why are they all so ugly? I’d rather fuck Marilyn my nemesis than any of them.
I look at the maitre-d, and try to smile. Wouldn’t be too surprised if its looks more like a grimace. “Hello. Yes. And this is my assistant, er Thomas.”
He’s really trying my patience. Hurry Davey!
My instructions were kindergarten clear: chat to the chef, pull in the head sommelier, walk us all into their cellar and…
OK here we go. We’re good. Go Dave. They’re super-chuffed with the big critic Davey Chase who’s filming and sharing for social gawping, all this through his trusty assistant, yours truly.
I think we may have a problem. I can feel myself beginning to gag when I listen to sommelier wine-boy. The chef mind, I couldn’t understand a word out of Frenchie and I could switch off. Focus on the plan.
But wine-boy, this whiny plonker of plonk, talking so much shite under a bloody man bun. Davey had it hard for him. But I just wanted to hurt him.
The plan, stick to the plan. We are close.
“Hey Davey, I need some wide-shots.” All three men stop their jabbering and look at me. I feel like I’m back at school, caught with no where to run as the cool kids surround me and stare. There’s a game being played, and it’s them against me, but only I get hurt.
“Thomas, I’m sure that will be fine. Yes?” Davey looks at his kind, who both nod and they go back to their chitty-chat-chat.
Breathing faster, I try hard to ignore these men and my childhood. This is it. This is my game and while it’s 70 minutes and nil nil, I’m about to score from well outside the box and the fuckers will never see it coming.
I wander the cellar, pretending to take pictures. Given it holds 30,000 wine bottle and supports the ‘best fucking wine list in the country’, it’s not small. Housed on the floor above the restaurant, I head off down another temperature control corridor towards my target.
It doesn’t take long. And it’s right where the buyer said it would be. To be honest, I thought it would be bigger but hey-fucking-ho. What do I know. Yep, serial reference checks.
As I zip my backpack up with the bottle secured and turn, I see him standing there. Wine-boy. I wonder for a moment, maybe he didn’t see. But one look at his smirking face and I can tell he saw me swipe the bottle. And he knows just which one.
I walk towards him, singing a little ditty thats been rolling around in my head. “Thirty bottles of wine on the wall, thirty bottles of wine on the wall, take one down…” As I sing the song, wine-boy finished it off for me.
“And pass it around…thirty thousand fucking bottles of wine on the wall.”
Author's note: The truth is stranger than fiction "Police arrest couple over E1.6M wine heist from Spanish restaurant" https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jul/20/police-arrest-couple-over-wine-heist-spain-croatia (Source: The Guardian, July 2022)