I don't think I could ever run a restaurant. It's not that I haven't thought of it. I even know exactly what it would look like – a mish-mash of old wooden furniture, roaring log fires, cosy red walls and a tip-top wine cellar. I actually think it would be quite a nice place. I'd call it something stupid like The Windy Pillar and I'd write to Raymond Blanc telling him to keep away as I didn't want any of his fancy advice. Never trust a Frenchman who has lived in the UK for more than 30 years but who still speaks like Inspector Clouseau – that's my motto.
I'd be bankrupt within a month, as I'm rubbish at business. I'd start to really loathe my clientele and put ads in the local paper, with phrases such as "strictly no riff-raff" in it, à la Basil Fawlty. I know my own limits, which is why I will never open a restaurant. It's always a joy, therefore, when I pop into a place to find that the owner's going slowly crazy and you have a front-row seat.
Stacey and I paid a visit to Tetbury last week to have a look around. It's not too far from us and we fancied a change from Cirencester. It's very near Highgrove and the whole place is full of antiques shops and boutiques, not a chain store in sight. I really liked it, and we spent a pleasant enough hour or so pottering about buying things we really didn't need. Our tummies rumbling, we ducked into a tempting-looking brasserie. We sat down and perused the menu. On the back page was a "newsletter" written by the wife of the owner. It made most entertaining reading. "Tool of the Week" was the main subject of discussion.
This week, it had been awarded to "the nasty piece of work that refused to pay for his lunch, verbally abused and physically intimidated the lovely and fragrant Mrs P [the newsletter writer], all because we had some people in the restaurant in hunting attire. Hasn't it been banned," she continued, "to keep these ghastly lefties quiet?" She hadn't finished yet: "These sort of sandal-wearing muesli-munchers normally fill their days reading the Public Sector Job Vacancies in The Guardian or neglecting their children for a living..."
Fortunately, there was better news elsewhere in the newsletter: "We received a lovely letter from Clarence House passing on thanks and good wishes to all those who signed the book of birthday greetings for HRH the POW. A big pat on the back all round, one feels." I couldn't work out to whom the newsletter writer was referring, as they had cleverly put the birthday recipient's name into code. Maybe one of you can crack it.
Our food arrived and was very disappointing – the salad was not washed very well and full of grit, and the hamburgers tasted quite extraordinary and had a most peculiar texture to them. Normally, we would have grumbled a bit, but the tone of the newsletter suggested that complaints in this establishment were not that welcome, unless you knew HRH the POW, that is. To be fair, we did have some very good white wine at their suggestion and this somewhat alleviated the disappointment of lunch.
We staggered out and ended up in the Highgrove shop where we ate our body-weights in free samples of Christmas cake and fudge. It felt good to be getting something back off the Crown. We were eventually spotted as freeloaders, however, and asked to leave if we weren't going to buy anything. So we left town and headed back to the safety of the Cotswolds. I doubt we'll be back that way in the near future. A shame, as I'd love to catch the next instalment of the newsletter. I wonder who will be "Tool of the Week". I can't imagine.