Friday 6th May 2016.
If it aint the condom machine it’s the soap dispenser… I’m afraid they’ve called time on prophylactics at The Closed Shop – so you can put that pound coin away now, Dave. Certainly a lot smarter in those bogs these days but soapless wash basins? Man alive, all those dirty gents slavering in their beery rib juices unwashed, then pawing the Mrs in the snug with their germy mits. What does the bartender care; too busy for matters of public hygiene, he tells me.
So much for The Closed Shop. Next it’s Crookes Club and “Caberet Boom Boom” – the venue, the concept, the crowd, all a sort of genteel throw-back to the Working Men’s Club sixties heyday. Vampish fatales dressed to kill; jaunty eccentrics doffing their titfers. The respectable face of cultish subversion. It’s the kind of place you can witness a man in lederhosen thrash leeks against his thighs then play Vivaldi’s Four Seasons on a set of horns from a 7 foot unicycle. As for Billy Buttons… Or is it Goat Holes?
Moody is a warm host. He came bolting out like a long lost uncle, “Let me, let me.” The result is the pic you see above. Uncle Moody (squashing lime pickle rotis into my satchel, magicking a mint penny from behind my ear, slapping my bottom in avuncular rapture as I’m bustled out an enchanted kitchen…), beautifully composed, groomed and dapper. A faint whiff of sandalwood and lemongrass – something by Givenchy. “Good evening, we’ve been expecting you.”
Moody actually sat himself down. Nonchalant and surprisingly noncommittal he vaguely recommended the kashmiri puree – meatballs served in a puffed puree ball, reminiscent of Ashoka’s chicken liver version. Talked old times with Jase. The waitress remembered us from another distinguished Sheffield Indian. Torrid tales of wage abuses and mismanagement. It was her second day of liberation.
Nothing in the way of draught lagers. Bottled Kingfisher and Cobra instead. Bare wooden table – paper napkins. It took the record-breaking eight dish pickle tray, including lime pickle, to restore the faith. Toothsome nosebag all round, but watch out for the naga lamb and the arakan ghost – my lively April trumpeting in the jingle-jangle morning-after with gusto.
Sumptuous carpeting, cosy as a warm ventricle. The music a melodious tapestry of trancy ragas. Welcome to your curry coma, it seemed to say… It was gone midnight, the restaurant thinning out, leaving the odd unoccupied waiter lurking in the recesses. Dimly aware of an unblinking, glassy eyed scrutiny, I promptly curtailed my soaring rendition of “Steamy Windows” from under my ‘hot towel’. (Another warm wadded wet wipe sadly.)
Finally, that chewy chocolate mint penny of my dreams encased in golden foil, washed down with sweet calypso nectar. Come on in, my curry brethren, the cream is fine…
Judge ‘Gonzo’ Pickles
Fred ‘Skippy’ Pickles