On throwing fish at celebrities
I ran into an old friend of mine recently. A chap who once had gainful employ in the staff canteen and BBC Television Centre, escaping before the casualties mounted to unacceptable figures.
Having worked up immunity to his own cooking, he is somehow still alive, and able to add an epilogue to a story that I told – several years ago – on these pages.
Anything, then, to re-tell The Sorry Tale Of The Time Rich Threw A Fish At Omar Sharif
Imagine, if you will, early evening in the BBC Staff Canteen. Hardly anyone has been killed TO DEATH on young Rich's shift, of which he is immensely proud.
Suddenly, the doors swing open, and in flounces star of Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago, Omar Sharif and his retinue of hangers-on and fellow act-ORs. Eschewing the tried-and-tested take-a-tray-and-order-over-the-counter, Sharif and friends take a window seat and await service.
Rich: Good afternoon, star of Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago, Omar Sharif. Although you appear to be dressed in the manner of a man who sends midgets into Salvation Army clothes banks, welcome to the infamous BBC staff restaurant. What would be your pleasure?
O. Sharif: I will have the fish. Please prepare it in a manner I will not immediately divulge, whilst I show these disinterested souls how to play bridge and hold court over my cinematic triumphs.
Five minutes later
Rich: Et voila!
O. Sharif: ...and hearts are trumps, whatever that means. What is this blasphemy against the culinary arts?
Rich: Er... your fish. You ordered it.
O. Sharif: You insult me, sir! It is undercooked! Take it away! Take it away!
Rich: As you wish, O. Sharif. The customer, as they say, is always right. Unless, of course, it is Michael Winner
Another five minutes later
Rich: There you go, mush.
O. Sharif: ...and the rubber is mine! Gah! What is the meaning of this outrage! It is still undercooked! Are you trying to poison me? Take it away, and get me fresh sauce.
Rich: Grrrrr... Of course, sir. I shall return momentarily with gastronomic delight to enrapture your taste buds
Somewhat more than five minutes later
Rich: Oi! Tosspot! Your fish!
O. Sharif: ...and that is why we call it the Picard Manouevre. What is this... this... THING?
Rich: YOUR. bloody. FISH!
O. Sharif: I do not want it. It is burned. I shall have the chicken instead.
Imagine, dear reader, the sound of fish in a delicate parsley-and-butter sauce hitting star of Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago, O. Sharif across the head, dripping off his finely-kept moustache and onto a hand of cards containing far too many aces
Rich: I'll get me coat.
O. Sharif: You. Will. Never. Work. In. This. Town. Again.
Epilogue - Three months later
O. Sharif: ...and that's a funny thing because Zhivago wasn't a real Doctor at all! And that's why I am EXCELLENT A-ha ha ha!
Hangers-on: Oh yes. Very drole, Mr Sharif, very drole. Come, let us eat in this fine establishment. We hear it comes highly recommended in Zagat
Maitre d': Welcome, star of Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago, Omar Sharif. Can I help you, sir?
O. Sharif: Why yes. I shall have the Big Mac Meal and a Filet-o-Fish with large f.... YOU!
Rich (for it is he): LOLOLOL. 'Coming' right up, with chef's special sauce!