Today: a celebrity customer is unmasked

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The Independent Culture
YESTERDAY I brought you part of a High Court case in which Mr Ernest Thesaurus is suing the famous chef, Oskar Louis Polo, for failing to provide satisfaction at his London restaurant, the Septentrion. Perhaps a further extract will give us insight into the murky world of London haute cuisine...

Counsel: So, Mr Thesaurus, you claim restaurants run by celebrity chefs provide better food when the chef is away?

Thesaurus: I certainly do.

Counsel: And on this day you rang up the Septentrion and booked a table for two under the name of Thesaurus...

Thesaurus: No.

Counsel: You didn't book a table?

Thesaurus: Yes, but not under the name of Thesaurus. Nobody can ever spell my name, very few people can pronounce it and not many can believe it.

Counsel: So what name did you use?

Thesaurus: My nom de restaurant, which is Lord Puttnam.

Counsel: May I ask why?

Thesaurus: Because it is easy to spell.

Counsel: But there is already someone called Lord Puttnam!

Thesaurus: There wasn't when I started using it. I am the first, original Lord Puttnam! This film fellow is an impostor.

Counsel: Nevertheless, it is an offence to make a booking under a false name.

Thesaurus: What is your name?

Counsel: I beg your pardon?

Thesaurus: You know my name. It is only fair that I should know your name.

Counsel: (to the Judge) My Lord, do I have to...?

Judge: Yes, I think so. He's got a point.

Counsel: My name is Thomas Crowther.

Thesaurus: And do you book restaurant tables under that name?

Counsel: Of course.

Thesaurus: Yet Thomas Crowther is not an unusual sort of name. How do you know that you will not be mistaken for other people called Thomas Crowther?

Counsel: It is so unlikely as to be beyond worrying about.

Thesaurus: Quite so. It is even more unlikely that I will be mistaken for other people called Lord Puttnam.

Judge: He's got you there, Crowther. I'd try another tack if I were you.

Counsel: Just a moment. I'd like to call a surprise witness at this point, if I may.

Judge: If it enlivens the proceedings, I'm all for it.

Counsel: Call Lord Puttnam! Lord Puttnam arrives and is sworn in. Now, Lord Puttnam, have you, when eating out in London, been distressed by being confused with other people using your name to book restaurant tables?

Puttnam: Never. May I take this opportunity to say something about the survival of footpaths in the British countryside?

Counsel: No, you may not.

Puttnam: Then may I say how much I admire Mr Thesaurus's stand against celebrity chefs, who should stick to cooking and not ponce around on TV?

Counsel: No, you may not. Dismiss the witness! Lord Puttnam is led away, shouting: "New film scripts for old! Get your old film scripts here!"

Judge: I may be getting a little obtuse in my old age, Mr Crowther, but can you tell me what the point of that last witness was?

Counsel: Yes, my Lord. The House of Lords is being reformed and many peers are undergoing retraining. I was asked to give Lord Puttnam some work experience as an expert witness.

Judge: He doesn't seem to have got the hang of it very well, does he?

Counsel: I think he will be better when he gets out of the habit of asking questions, and begins to answer them.

Judge: Good. Carry on.

Counsel: Now, Mr Thesaurus, tell us exactly why you dislike celebrity chefs.

Thesaurus: They lower the tone of their own restaurants. I wouldn't go to eat at Rick Stein's if Rick Stein were cooking!

Counsel: Why not?

Thesaurus: Well, mainly because Padstow is a hell of a long way to go for a plate of fish.

Counsel: Be that as it may, I wish to suggest to you that you are here under false pretences, Mr Thesaurus. You say you have brought this case against Mr Polo because you have a thing against celebrity chefs. I say you are a fraud! I say you have brought this case because you wish to become the first celebrity restaurant customer in your own right!

Tomorrow we bring you the amazing denouement of this trial