In 1989 I had 753 breakfasts.
Of course, that meant that some days I had to have two or even three breakfasts. I know what you are thinking: that’s a lot of bacon and eggs! I know that.
My doctor told me “You don’t have a blood stream..you have a cholesterol stream.”
“Is that good?” I’d asked him. ” Do you think my having had 753 bacon and eggs in one year could be a contributory factor?.” He retired suddenly a few weeks later. He just disappeared.
I have been having breakfast at Claridges, every day, at the same table, for over twenty years. In the beginning my mother was upset, but I think, deep down, she knew she could never get her bacon as crispy as I liked it.
I don’t know why Peter Mandelson went to all the trouble to go into politics and invent New Labour, just so he could meet the rich and famous. All he had to do was have breakfast at Claridge’s every day. For example, midway through my career as a professional breakfaster, Henry Kissinger was at the next table, with The Foreign Secretary, Douglas Hurd. Halfway through his scrambled eggs he turned round and asked me what I thought they should do about Saddam Hussein. I told him, and two weeks later they started the Gulf War. How many people do you know who can have a good breakfast and start a war at the same time?
I remember Kissinger had his arm in a sling that morning, and Mr. Hurd had to help him with his egg. “An assassination attempt, Dr. Kissinger?” I’d asked.
“No. I slipped on a rug in Sacramento” he replied.
Anyway, when I walked into the restaurant this morning, something terrible had happened. My table wasn’t there. It had disappeared. It had been there in the same place every morning for twenty years. I had grown up with that table! It was MY table. Now it had gone.
A large red sofa stood in its place. Several other sofas surrounded it. There had never been sofas in the restaurant before. “Nasser!” I shouted. (I love shouting “Nasser!” I was a volunteer in the Six Day War in June 1967. The Egyptian President at the time was Nasser: After losing the war, everybody thought he had died. So you can imagine how surprised I was when a couple of years ago he showed up at Claridges as a breakfast waiter. Every morning a failed Arab Dictator has served my breakfast to me. That’s life. Or war, in his case. He had now worked his way up to Head waiter. He was on the way back.Next week Peter Mandelson will probably be pushing the beef trolley round at lunch.)
Nasser ran across the room. He looked close to tears. “I am very sorry, Mr. Rosengard,” he said. “They have taken it away.”
“What do you mean THEY have taken it away? Who has taken it away?”
“The Management.” he said.” They have redesigned the restaurant. They have taken your table away.”
I looked him straight in the eyes.” Nasser, you let them take my table away.” Was this his final act of revenge for losing the Six Day War? I wondered.
“There was nothing I could do, Mr. Rosengard, there were too many of them. They came at night.”
He looked even more upset than me. I handed him a napkin. “I can give you a very nice table in the corner. Maybe you prefer the Alcove?”
I looked at him. “And what if David Frost comes in? He always has the Alcove,” I replied, numbly.
“I will tell him what has happened to you. He is a regular like yourself. He will understand.” Nasser said. I followed him to the Alcove and sat down.
“Barbara Cartland always loved the Alcove,” he said.
“Just bring me the coffee Nasser please,” I said.
“Why don’t you have a kipper today, Sir. Maybe it will help.” He was only doing his best.
That’s when I had my ‘out of breakfast’ experience. It’s true what they say: all my thousands of previous breakfasts passed before my eyes. One in particular stayed and haunted me. A morning, a couple of years ago, I had arrived, only to find that Nicholas’Fattie’ Soames had occupied my table. He was Minister of Defence at the time and, clearly, having read some Army manuals in bed the previous night, had launched a pre- emptive strike. He was obviously still smarting from having been photographed in all the papers the week before, stuck in a tank turret somewhere in Germany and so desperately needing a quick military victory, he had invaded my breakfast table.
Another regular, David, rushed over. “Peter! Thank God you are all right!” he said. “When I couldn’t see you at your table, and all I could see was that empty sofa…. well frankly I feared the worst.”
Marcus the porter brought me over my shoes. I had left them, as usual, at the concierge desk, to be polished. (Where else do YOU know, where you can get bacon and eggs and your shoes polished? And all for £30?)
“I am very sorry Sir about your sad loss, please accept all the porters condolences2” he said. “This is even worse than the Soames affair, Marcus. That was bad enough, then they gave my table away without even putting up a fight, but now they have actually taken it away.”
“You’re not going to let them get away with it though, are you, Sir?”
“Certainly not, Marcus. I will never give in until I get my table back.”
“Good for you Sir.”
“This is just the beginning of the Battle for Breakfast.”
“It is incredible Sir, isn’t it? It was only just before Christmas that you fought the Battle of the Marmalade.”
I nodded. “Yes Marcus, but that was just a battle. This is war.”
COPYRIGHT.Peter Rosengard for Rosengardworld2001
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