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Open a Restaurant

Admit it: other than a weekend with a pair of liberal-minded twins owning a restaurant is the ultimate dream. Lurking in an expensive jacket, purveying all around you, sipping a Martini, telling the polite lady on the phone that you’re sorry but Mr de Niro should have booked in advance like all the other patrons.

If only it were that simple. Take my friend Negative Graham. Negative Graham used to work in the city. Fairly successful he was too, in a negative kind of way. Then one day he declared he was leaving to open a restaurant. “I’m leaving to open a restaurant!” he declared (in case you didn’t believe me). He spent a month at home coming up with a name (“Negative Graham’s Bistro”), three months considering a location (Putney), a further two months securing premises (down a cul-de-sac), then ten minutes deciding on a culinary theme (“Cheese! It’s CHEESE!”).

What Negative Graham didn’t appreciate was the hard work required. “Frankly,” he said to me when I visited him in hospital, “I thought I’d have my own TV show within the year. Instead I’ve had to settle for an ulcer and a drink problem. Could you rub my feet please?” It was a review in the Evening Standard that pushed him over the edge. It started reasonably enough (“Having never been to a cheese restaurant before I entered with an open mind”) but fairly soon they let him have it (“One of the waiters farted in my ear”) culminating in a damning indictment of the place (“There is, undoubtedly, a cloak of negativity enveloping this establishment”) and a nail in the coffin (“I’d rather eat my own leg than return.”). Now that he’s in hospital Negative Graham has asked me to take the reigns. I’ve renamed the place “Saul’s Upbeat Diner”, doubled the prices and moved in with his wife, Medium Sue. I tell yah, the restaurant game – it’s a cut throat business.