I think I’ll go for a curry tonight. Not ground-breaking, Pulitzer-winning, hold-the-front-page stuff, I grant you, but I thought I’d celebrate the Gurkha’s latest victory, this time in the House of Commons. I like showing solidarity with other nations’ or peoples’ celebrations. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Back in the days of yore at The Telegraph we would religiously celebrate Beaujolais Day by getting a crate into the office. Anzac Day didn’t go unrecognized either as pallets of Fosters and XXXX would turn up to be supped through the days work. Paddy’s Day (as mentioned here earlier) was celebrated every day BUT the official one, and there was often some sub-editor or late-stop asleep at his desk having mistakenly celebrated Burns night in mid-July.
Of the five (and counting) curry houses in Blackheath three are Nepalese so there’ll be plenty of happy lads to serve my taka dahl and garlic chilli chicken this evening. Goody! I could eat a scabby horse. Before Khans restaurant changed hands the staff would serve in Gurkha regimental ties. You didn’t get many run-outs from there, I can tell you. They used to do a Chicken Gurkhali which I drunkenly and foolishly ordered one evening. “It’s what the Gurka’s eat, Sir” I was told. Ignoring their warning I tucked in. The effects were devastating, trousers ruined and the coastguard alerted.
Around the corner at the Sopna (which became Everest, now called Saffron) they used to do a Terry Waite Special, in honour of the local devil dodger/CIA stooge who spent all that time attached to that radiator in the Lebanon, and was allegedly what he ordered when he came home. If memory serves it’s a whole chicken stuffed with keema mince , topped with cheese and roasted. The dish on the menu is meant for 2-3 hungry people (give him his due, Waite is a big unit and hadn’t eaten a proper meal for 4 years) but I sat and watched a good pal of mine devour it on his own in minutes. I cannot mention his name here, but suffice to say he hadn’t eaten since the Sunday Mirror canteen had closed two hours earlier.
The third these is the Mountain View which was a Barclays Bank, then a bar —Flame (still full of Barclays Bankers)— and has all the atmosphere of Harry Ramsdens, Heathrow Airport. The fat, smiley guvnor is ok if a bit overpowering, and they do a line in the world’s sweetest cake and will sing (terribly) happy birthday to any of your party who happens to be celebrating. It doesn’t matter if it IS actually your birthday—could be your anniversary , new job or decree nisi—they’ll sing Happy Birthday anyway, it’s excruciating. I can only imagine their songs have been passed on, father-to-son by generations of political prisoners in Kathmandu to remind their successors of the terrible pain meted out on them by the ruling classes. Where they must have shoved their kukris is anyone’s guess. But the food’s good and they serve Gurka Beer (brewed in Horsham) to take your mind off the singing.
So it’s to one of the above I shall repair to this evening, in the hope that they’re still feeling particularly chipper after their commons victory and that there’ll be the odd free poppadum or dry sherry on offer. I’m still hanging out for Argentina to re-take the Malvinas—there’s a great Argentinian steakhouse in the village. But there’s no point in Turkey becoming an EU member—we don’t have a kebab house.