I said to Straussy: “I need to know where I stand.” He said: “Down at long leg, moaning.” I told him that wasn’t what I meant.
I said: “I want to clear the air. I want to go out for dinner, and not somewhere rubbish either, somewhere nice with a tablecloth and a little flower in the middle of the table and that. I’ll be wanting a starter too.”
Straussy sighed and got that look on his face he used to get when he saw Shane Warne was about to bowl or when that Robert Peston bloke comes on the BBC World talking about credit crunches.
“All right,” he said. “We’ll go for dinner.”
“And I want one of them blokes what’s got a violin wandering around the table and you have to make him play a song for us,” I said.
“No, Steve,” he said. “No violin.”
“Rose for the lady?” I said.
“For Christ’s sake, Steve. No. Look. You can have Black Forest Gateau,” he said.
“For starter?” I asked.
“Yes, if you want.”
“All right then,” I said.
We went to the restaurant.
“Ah, welcome, welcome,” said the waiter. “Mr Strauss! And Mr Harmison! The Destroyer. Welcome.”
“Table for two please, Antonio,” says Straussy.
“In the courtyard near the water feature if possible,” I said.
“Give me strength,” muttered Straussy.
“It’s all right,” I said. “I’ve got a wrap. I’ll not be chilly.”
We went outside. I had a thought.
“I’m sorry again for breaking all them plates last time, Antonio,” I said.
“Not at all, Mr Harmison. The pleasure was all ours. How could you have known that we do not share with Greece that charming custom?”
“Freddie told us to do it, see,” I said.
“Ha ha, Mr Freddie,” said Antonio. “He does so enjoy his penne alla vodka.”
“You know, it’s a funny thing,” said Straussy. “I didn’t know it was traditionally served in a bucket.”
“Erm… yes,” said Antonio. “That is the Calabrian style. And of course, our house speciality – we leave out the penne.”
“Them plates,” I said. “I was aiming for the fireplace.”
“It was entirely understandable that you hit the wine waiter,” said Antonio. “The important thing is that you are trying.”
“You can’t fault my effort,” I agreed. “I tried my nuts off.”
We ate the meal. I didn’t think much of the Black Forest Gateau I had for starter, but the one for main course was really good. They brought the sweet trolley round. I know how it feels.
“So where do I stand, Straussy? I said.
“You have to be better at bowling and get fit,” he said.
“Oh,” I said. “Antonio! Another Black Forest over here if you will.”
“And for you, Mr Strauss?” said Antonio.
“You know what, Antonio?” said Straussy. “I think I am going to try something new.”
Alan Tyers plays a mean violin