Thursday night I was playing my residency at a bar in Mayfair. Michael, John and Dennis were serving. Those three are fantastic! John makes the best coffee in the Northern Hemisphere, Dennis is always checking on me and Mike has his eye on everything. Plus, I’m allowed a tip jar!
The clientele is mixture of locals and wealthy blow ins. Pussycat and Nuri who run the Japanese restaurant come in every night around 11pm. Dracula, a hedge fund millionaire pops in every so often in his way out clothes. Johannes, a wonderful young German man turns up about once a month or so and has his drinks sitting at the piano. There’s red face John and Michael the architect who have all become characters in the world of this bar.
Last Thursday, I’d just started playing, and save for a group of women in the corner the bar was empty. In walks a well dressed young Arabic man in a suit and puts £10 in my tip jar without even stopping to listen! He’s joined by a truly obnoxious, scruffy looking middle aged man who comes over and says
“Hi, do you have a husband?”
“Well yes I do.”
“Is he big?”
(Urgh! So it was to be one of those nights!)
“Come and join us for a drink” he says. I’m half way through my set, so I tell him he can wait. He asks for “Somewhere over the rainbow” I played it and when I finish he says
“Right, that was lovely, now come over here and sit down and shut up.” (!)
“No I’m still playing.”
“Fine, what do I want you to play next?”
“No I hate jazz!” (I didn’t bother explaining to him that ‘Somewhere over the rainbow’ is widely accepted as a jazz standard.)
“Here” I said
“I have the perfect song for you” and proceeded to play ‘Desperado.’ He sent a glass of wine to the piano, obviously missing the point.
I finished my set and was immediately set upon by “John” as he called himself, and “H”, the Arabic man who turns out is a pilot with Etihad. They were going through the usual banter of trying to make the other look bad in front of a lady. John was particularly shit. He was trying to be mysterious, and failing terribly.
“What do you think I do for a job? I’ll give you three guesses. I’ve dined with all the Kings and Queens; my father is a big deal. If I put my hand on the shoulder of royalty then they have safe passage.”
I drifted off to the memory of when John Howard, a past Australian Priminister put his hand on the Queen’s shoulder and was given a stern warning. It was all over the papers at the time. If the Australian Priminister isn’t permitted to touch the Queen then some rich drunk certainly is not.
“Do you French kiss?” I come crashing out of my daydream.
“Well that’s certainly none of your business!”
“Come outside baby and light my cigarette.”
(Wow! This guy really is a total knob!)
“I’m not a geisha, I’m a musician. Go light your own cigarette. I’m staying inside.”
He was rather taken aback.
“You English girls, you’re no good. When a girl does everything for me, I love her forever.”
“Well, you’re going to have trouble finding someone to love forever in this day and age buddy. Enjoy your cigarette.”
He takes a swig from my wine glass and goes outside. I decided I didn’t feel like any more wine after that.
I sat talking to the pilot for a while, who was nice enough. As I was beginning to play again John asked for “Songbird” by Christine McVie. I told him I thought Christine was the best songwriter in Fleetwood Mac. He stares at me for much longer than was necessary, presumably for dramatic effect and finally says
“I can’t teach you anything.”
“No, probably not.”
He goes over to the group of women and buys them two bottles of champagne. H comes over saying “rainbow” over and over again like a child.
“Why are you saying rainbow at me H? What do you want?”
(WHY ARE THE CRAZIES IN TONIGHT?!)
“Can you play ‘somewhere over the rainbow?”
“I just played it for you.”
“Play it again.”
He puts £50 in my tip jar. I play it again. He and John leave before I finish the song.
In my break I was speaking to Michael, and Dennis. That scruffy buffoon’s name isn’t even John, it’s Christopher! Why anyone would lie about their first name is baffling. He’s been kicked out of every bar in Mayfair for being an obnoxious twat except for my bar as he spends big. We had a good laugh about him.
Sometimes it really does feel like I’m playing music in a zoo.