How I could have cleaned up and lost it all

May 12, 2016 13:02


During the war, when he was asked what he did when he felt the need for exercise, Churchill puffed on his cigar and said: "When I feel the need for exercise, I go and lie down in a darkened room until the feeling has passed me by." As a life member of the Churchill School of Exercise, this morning I jumped on my Vespa scooter and rode the entire 100 yards to The American Dry Cleaners in Maida Vale, balancing a large bag of laundry between my legs. Walking in, I almost tripped over a baby buggy parked considerately right in the middle of the small shop.

"Do you find calling yourselves The American Dry Cleaners gets you any more laundry than if you were called, say, The Israeli Dry Cleaners? I asked the Polish manageress. "Does Obama send his shirts here?" She shrugged and took my bag of shirts.

Glancing down, I saw there was a wallet on the counter and the only other customer was instructing the alteration tailor behind his sewing machine a few feet away. "I like my jacket buttons double threaded please, not single threaded. I find they fall off," he said

It's a tough life.

I picked up the wallet and tapped him on the shoulder. "I think this is yours." He turned round, looked at me and, taking it without saying a word, turned back to the tailor. "Er, thank you?" I said. He just carried on with his button talk.

"You know, it's lucky I'm an honest man." I said. He turned, looked in the wallet, checked the money and put it in his pocket.

" Unbelievable! What do think about that ?"I said turning to the manager''. She shrugged.

I looked down at the little boy in the buggy. He shrugged as well.


At 11am, I was standing at the porter's desk at Claridge's talking to Martin ''the world's greatest head porter'' Ballard when five or six loud bangs suddenly rang out. A second later, two of the hotel's security team walked quickly in the direction the sounds came from. "Did that sound like gunshots to you,'' I asked Martin. I stayed calm (I was a volunteer in the Six-Day War - I washed up on a kibbutz and got fired for breaking the dishes) and tried to hide behind the counter.

"It's balloons, sir," Martin said. "Balloons being popped." Looking down the hall-way, I saw two people on the floor grappling with the biggest number of balloons I've ever seen. "It's for a guest - he likes to have balloons in his suite. He wanted 250 and we were six over, "one of the balloon grapplers said.


Suit fitting with Paul ''the fighting tailor'' from Glasgow. He's not only a great tailor but also a champion boxer. One sleeve looks to me just a little shorter than the other but I don't like to say anything, as he's won all his fights by knockouts. "That's great!" I said. I'll just walk a little lopsided with one arm slightly bent. I don't like to make a fuss.

Thursday night

I went for dinner in my local restaurant with my friend Howard - I'm a regular and always ask for the same table. I got there 10 minutes late and they'd already given it away.

"Antonio! What happened to my table?"

"Don't worry… I will move them."

They said they didn't mind and I thanked them: ''I like to always sit with my back to the wall - in case of an assassination attempt,'' I said.

"Not a problem," the blonde young woman said as she reached behind her for her crutches.

"I didn't know you were on crutches. I'm so sorry. Please stay where you are."

"No, really, it's fine,'' she said, as she hoisted herself up on to them and made her way slowly through the restaurant. I looked at the other diners who'd stopped eating and were staring at me.

"How was I to know she was on crutches? Who'd move a woman on crutches from her table," I said to them.

"You just did," Howard said.


I'm on my way to my friends the Shaperos for lunch. Bernard told me to bring some chocolates. I rode over to the chocolate shop in Marylebone High Street, parked outside and went in wearing my helmet. I don't look like a ram raider… how many middle-aged Jewish men on motorbikes rob chocolate shops? "What would you like,'' the assistant asked me.

"You choose… I'll leave it to you." He handed me a box with a pink ribbon. As I rushed out, the next customer at the counter shouted: ''Hey, I think you've dropped something!" I looked down- I'd dropped four or five £20 notes on the floor.

"Thank you very much," I said as I put them back in my pocket." You are today's Good Samaritan."

"Have you ever thought of getting a wallet," he asked.

"It's funny you should say that."

May 12, 2016 13:02

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