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Save me from Nothing Street, Geraldine

Published 17 June 2012
News Review
986th article

Geraldine - infinitely preferable to a picture of Baker Street (Arnold Crust)

I hate Baker Street. It's a nothing street that starts near Oxford Street (another horror), goes in a straight line north, leads you one way or another to St John's Wood (don't like that either) and then goes on through Hertfordshire (nice), the north (strange) and Scotland (adorable) and ends up at the North Pole. I suppose, if it had the energy, Baker Street would carry on down the other side of the planet and go to the South Pole.

Someone recommended the Bright Courtyard Chinese restaurant in (ugh) Baker Street. I took my assistant Dinah May for lunch. She started with some pickle with chilli sauce, which choked her. She spent 20 minutes choking.

I said: "If you die, I'm not paying for the funeral."

It was very empty. The waitress said: "At weekends it's busy, and in the evenings."

I got a spring roll, which looked like Weetabix. Boring.

I had a fresh crab dumpling, a grilled pork dumpling and a big mound of egg fried rice. Nothing talked to me.

I said: "This big picture window facing Baker Street is equivalent to having a picture window facing the great plague of London and watching them carry the bodies away. In fact, that would be more interesting."

Dinah got sea bass, which she was assured had been bought in the market that morning. She couldn't taste the menu-promised ginger or spring onion.

Dinah said: "I'm very upset." If she's upset having lunch, God knows how she puts up with me.

My main course was slices of Cantonese roast duck. The skin was extremely greasy underneath, the meat very poor; it was almost inedible.

Dinah said: "Did you see the size of your duck that they took away?" "Yes," I replied.

"Well, where did it go?" she asked. "I could have had a duck goody bag to take home for tonight." They gave her one anyway. She later said there was hardly anything in it.

No one made any attempt to crumb down the table, so I knocked off all the bits and pieces myself.

We finished with toffee apples and toffee bananas. They were okay.

  • I do not wish to show you a photo of the Bright Courtyard staff or of Baker Street. So I defer to Ian McDougle, a reader from Buckinghamshire, who recently wrote that he only wants to see a large photo of Geraldine, adding about me: "Lurk in the background if you must."

    Mr McDougle, I do not lurk. I ponce about, cause trouble, bring light and happiness to the world and generally behave with impeccable (if misplaced) self-assurance. Thus you will not see me in the background of this week's photograph. You'll get what you asked for: Geraldine. But be warned: I shall return.

    I realise all normal conversation has ceased in your house/council flat/caravan/cave or wherever. "What is that edifice on the left of the picture behind Geraldine?" you are asking. "Is it a tip for atomic waste? A new Richard Rogers apartment monstrosity? A large beehive? A flying saucer? An optical illusion?"

    I will release you from your agony. It's a castle on the Isle of Mull. We had just got off the converted trawler in which we were travelling around the Hebrides and taken a stroll on Mull. There we came across a very grand house, where two posh people greeted us. They were accompanied by two even posher dogs, one called Reginald, the other Lambeth Bridge.

    "Would you like to buy our house? they asked.

    "Not bloody likely," I thought. Beyond the house was this castle. Perhaps a reader from Mull could tell us its name. Pixie-Trixie perhaps. Or Rover. Or I'm the King of.

    It's pathetic ramblings like this that keep me going. All semblance of sanity has departed. But, as you know, that often happens to men of genius.

  • From Cheryl Leigh in London. Hymie's teenage daughter, Ruth, admits to her parents: "I'm pregnant."

    Becky screams: "What pig did this to you?" Ruth makes a phone call. Half an hour later a distinguished, grey-haired man wearing a skullcap steps out of his Mercedes. He sits with Hymie, Becky and Ruth.

    "I'm afraid I can't marry Ruth, because of my family situation," he explains, "but I'll provide generously for your daughter for the rest of her life.

    "If she gives birth to a girl, I'll bequeath her two retail furniture stores, a deli, a condo in South Beach and a million-dollar bank account.

    "If she has a boy, I'll bequeath him a chain of jewellery stores and $25m. However, if there's a miscarriage, I'm not sure what to do."

    Becky places a hand on the man's shoulder and says: "Don't worry - you'll try again."

    Michael's missives

    The reason you and your beautiful wife were sitting on your front garden's steps last week is obvious: the bailiffs wouldn't let you back in the house.
    Peter Yipp, Essex

    I guess that Manoj from Indian Zilla finished back at your gaff because he wouldn't accept your credit card and insisted on collecting the cash from under your mattress.
    Howard Bentley, Lancashire

    Showing the garden in the background of last week's photo is an inexpensive method of advertising for a new gardener, as it's looking a touch unkempt.
    Jenni Woolf, Derbyshire

    Your front garden is blooming lovely. Have you followed princely advice and been talking to the plants? Perhaps if we could get HRH to chat to you, you might blossom into a benign elderly gent rather than a cantankerous curmudgeon. I won't hold my breath!
    Patrick Tracey, Carlisle

    I note that Geoffrey Riesel, chairman of Radio Taxis Group, constantly tells his drivers to remember they're in a service industry. Perhaps he could carry his crusade to waiters, receptionists, shop assistants and the myriad similar workers who frequently greet the public with curt indifference.
    Lillian Simpson, Cheshire

    Send letters to Winner's Dinners, The Sunday Times, 3 Thomas More Square, London E98 1ST, or email michael.winner@sunday-times.co.uk