Thank You, John White, For Dinner At Chor Bizarre, 29 March 2017

I was about to send John White a thank you e-mail this morning, when I realised that, as John is an Ogblog subscriber, I could thank him here and now while writing the blog piece about our meal, rather than e-mailing him first and then cutting & pasting or rewriting.

Thank you, John, it was a tremendous evening.

There, I have literally saved myself seconds…

…(the author pauses for a minute or two, admiring his words, cunning and outstanding efficiency).

It was a very pleasant evening. My turn to choose; I chose Chor Bizarre in Albermarle Street. Hence John’s turn to pay. Hence my turn to send the thank you message.

My thank you message to John would also have included these follow up points from our conversation:

  • you are quite right that the Innsbruck song should have guttural ichs and dichs, I listened to several versions when I got home and they all have flem aplenty – perhaps it’s because Heinrich Isaac was Flemish. Anyway, I have added a version for you to hear, towards the end of that Tallis Scholars concert blog piece – click here;
  • as we suspected, my CD version of I Love Music by the O’Jays is not the extended, nearly 7 minute long version, it is about half that length. The extended version can be found easily enough on line and I enjoyed listening to it.

But this must be confusing for anyone else reading this piece, so let me go sequential again.

We didn’t make it to a wine bar for a pre-dinner drink (we only occasionally manage those these days), this time because John was too busy hoity-toitying at the House of Commons until early evening.

Joking apart, John’s return to the Palace of Westminster that day must have given John considerable pause for thought, as he was there the previous week and witnessed the events of the recent attack from the other side of New Palace Yard.

Chor Bizarre was certainly a good choice for John – he loves his Indian food and this is absolutely top notch, British-style Indian. I started with Purani Dilli Ki Papri Chaat, a most amazing version of the type of snack lunch I ate so often in Drummond Street back in the day. John went for Amritsari Machhi, spicy fried fish pieces. We both tried each other’s starters, applauding both choices.

I went for a mild, yoghurty Kashmiri dish, Lamb Yakhni, while John went full tilt for a spicy Tamil Nadu style dish, Chicken Chettinad. Again we tried each other’s mains, pleased with our personal choices while recognising the quality of the whole meal. Rice, naan, cucumber raita…all excellent.

At one point, as we tucked into our delicious main courses, John asked if he could photograph me, as the gentleman he was with at the Palace of Westminster (I think John said it was his Chairman) didn’t believe that John has a friend.

Now I can understand the notion of, “I don’t believe you are going to meet a friend for dinner, I think you are merely making an excuse to get home rather than have another drink with me.” That’s fair.

But, “I don’t believe that you have a friend” is a very harsh suggestion indeed.

John Has Got A Friend.

This interlude reminded me a little of my eventful dinner with Ant Clifford last year, where I ended up filming Ant pouring white powder all over his Indian meal – click here. What is it with Indian restaurants and weird camera stuff these days?

It also made me think about the song You’ve Got a Friend and my cynical Fair Weather Friend lyric – click here – both of which I am working up a treat on the baritone uke at the moment.

At one point John suggested that I had probably ruined his family life by choosing such a superb Indian restaurant; his family tradition of a takeaway curry from the local curry house in Saffron Walden will now seem utterly inadequate.

John even toyed with the idea of taking away from Chor Bizarre for his family, but that merely enabled the recycling of, “the wine will be flat and the curry gone cold” line.

“You’ve ruined my family life by choosing such a good restaurant” could be a friendship-ending remark of course, so perhaps the Westminster gentleman had a point about John and friendships.

Mind you, earlier I made my own potentially-friendship-ending suggestion to John; namely that his question, “what have you been up to lately?” is no longer appropriate in my case. He simply needs to read Ogblog regularly to find out.

Indeed, we really don’t need to make conversation any more at all. We could be like many of the other people we see in restaurants these days – just studying our smart phones individually while we eat.

Anyway, all good things must come to an end, so we wandered back to Bond Street together, from whence we went our separate ways.

En route to the tube, I set John a quiz, the answer to which is “Jimi Hendrix and George Frideric Handel”. A huge accolade to the first Ogblog reader (John White need not apply) who comments in with what the question must have been.

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