A candlelit dinner for two, with a blazing row thrown in

`There was a ghastly silence as Jeremy rubbed his cheek and brooded. Then...'

THIS MORNING I have received a letter which casts such an unusual light on British life that I feel I ought to pass it on to the gentle readership of The Independent without altering a word. Here it is:

Dear Mr Kington,

Yesterday, on St Valentine's Day, I made the mistake of taking my wife out to a romantic dinner. It had not occurred to me before, but there must be many many couples who are hoodwinked by commercial pressures into lavishing a night out on each other on 14 February, and who therefore find themselves in a restaurant inhabited solely by romantic couples. So it was with us.

The restaurant we went to had only tables for two, and all those two were male and female, and we all stared into each other's eyes and held hands a bit for fear of looking unromantic.

It would have been terrible except that there was one couple in the restaurant who did not obey the rules. They were quite an attractive couple, perhaps in their early thirties, but they had absolutely no concept of keeping their voices down. As a result, whenever any of us temporarily ran out of things to say, our attention strayed to this pair, and their conversation.

He was Jeremy, she was Cynthia, and to begin with they just talked about the children and the au pair, but then they got on to the subject of a woman called Jenny, and the tone changed. Jenny was obviously Cynthia's best pal. She obviously suspected that there was something going on between her husband and Jenny, and from laughingly denying it, Jeremy suddenly lowered his voice (still audibly) and began defiantly admitting it.

"Jenny's a lot of fun," he said, "which is more than can be said of some people present, who seem to have lost their fun factor somewhere along the way."

"Fun in what way?" said Cynthia icily.

"Every way," said Jeremy. "Especially horizontally."

A choking sound rippled softly round the restaurant. It was clear that most of us were listening. But Jeremy and Cynthia couldn't care less. Within five minutes the row had escalated into a blazing argument, only ended by Cynthia getting to her feet, slapping him and walking out.

There was a ghastly silence as Jeremy rubbed his cheek and brooded. Then...

"Waiter!" he cried. The waiter came. Jeremy asked him, not for the bill, not even for a drink, but for the loan of a mobile phone. It was brought. He dialled a number. Someone answered.

"Darling!" cried Jeremy. "Why don't you pop over?"

We couldn't believe it. He was asking someone else over to finish off the ruined meal. Surely it couldn't be...?

Ten minutes later the door opened and a lovely girl came in.

"Jenny! Darling!" he cried, as if none of us were there, and they both sat down, giving us all a chance to study and comment on this new arrival. We didn't have a lot of time. Suddenly the door opened and - guess what ? Cynthia swept back in! We thought for a moment there would be a battle royal, but they seemed to want to talk it over like adults and all sat down together. It didn't last. Voices flared again, tempers frayed and broke, chairs scraped back - and what do you think happened? The two women linked arms and strode out together !

Not long after, the lone Jeremy, in tears by now, paid and went, and all the tables started chatting animatedly to each other, as you might imagine, and we all ended up the best of friends. And there it might have rested had I not accidentally bumped into Jeremy the next day in the street.

"Forgive a stranger for asking," I said, "but how did it all work out?"

"All what?"

"Last night... Cynthia, Jenny..."

"Oh, that." He laughed. "It worked out fine. We got paid."

"Paid?"

He pulled out a card. "Perhaps this will explain."

He passed on, and I looked at the card. It read: "Street Theatre and Restaurant Performers. No More Dull Dining Rooms and Silent St Valentines! Delight your Diners with a Drama! Also Murder Mysteries, etc, etc." There then followed phone numbers, etc.

What do you think, Mr Kington? Do you think that restaurants should be allowed to imitate unscrupulous BBC TV shows and foist fake fellow diners on an unsuspecting public in this underhand and deceitful way?

Yours etc

Miles Kington writes: Never mind about that - just let me have the name of the restaurant. I want to book for next Valentine's Day...

Arts and Entertainment
Thomas carried Lady Edith over the flames in her bedroom in Downton Abbey series five

TV
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne, seated next to a picture of his missing wife Amy, played by Rosamund Pike

film
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene

Friends 20th anniversary
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham

books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey

There’s revolution in the air, but one lady’s not for turning

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Chloe-Jasmine Whicello impressed the judges and the audience at Wembley Arena with a sultry performance
TVReview: Who'd have known Simon was such a Roger Rabbit fan?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits