I finally made it back to a restaurant this week and found it to be a pleasure. Excellent service deserving of a healthy tip. I thought I’d been generous enough until I saw a high roller put on a show of how to do it in a very public way.
Calling over the young waiter he ripped two fifty pound notes from a wad in his pocket and flashed them under the lights for everyone to see. Praising the food he turned on his heel and left with his family. It was a bit Del Boyish but the joy on the young lad’s face was a delight to see.
It reminded me of the only time I was tipped by a diner in a restaurant and I wasn’t even working there. The editor at UTV sent me to Dublin to cover the opening of Planet Hollywood. The Celtic Tiger had started to roar and the city was buzzing.
The hype around the launch of the famous brand had the media in a frenzy and the opening night lived up to all expectations. We weren’t to know this business venture would eventually fail. That night it seemed to have the financial support of every multi-millionaire in the film world.
The A-listers were in town and keen to be seen. It was an open door welcome for all reporters and when the interviews were finished the party started. What a party it turned out to be. A never ending supply of free food and drink and company that made you feel you were on a film set.
I stood in the middle of the bar area in awe of the names I was sharing the finger food with. At one point a waitress with a pizza tray offered slices to Arnold Schwarzenegger, William Baldwin, Wesley Snipes, Damon Hill, myself and Sylvester Stallone.
I turned to get a drink and became involved in lively conversation with Gay Byrne, Bertie Ahern, Bob Geldof and again Sylvester Stallone. Later when the music started I was straining my ear to hear what the boys from Def Leppard had to say to Jeremy Irons, Ronan Keating and a host of actors from Coronation Street, Ballykissangel, Fair City and Glenroe.
One other person was listening in and that was, you’ve guessed it, Sylvester Stallone. The only constant in this night of variety was the close proximity of the action movie superstar. I suddenly became aware of what was happening. He had mistaken me for the person he presumed was his appointed guide.
That became apparent when he suggested I should show him back to his hotel. I could have explained the error to him but I wasn’t about to pass up the opportunity of a dander through Dublin with Sly. I knew I should have explained but I was aware of where the hotel was and I’d never get a chance like it again.
We left the restaurant and headed down the street. After about forty metres we took a right turn and found ourselves face to face with two old Dublin drunks. The four of us came to a standstill and one Dub said to the other, “Jaysus, it’s Rambo” and quick as a flash the other replied. “Rambo me a***, that’s Rocky.”
Stallone laughed and we pushed past. He told me how much he enjoyed listening to the Dublin accent. He also talked lots about golf. I just walked alongside doing my best to translate his sensational accent.
The hotel was only a couple of streets away and when we arrived at the front door I was thanked for being so helpful and a note was pushed into my top pocket. With a skip and a dash he was away through the foyer and into the hotel. I checked my pocket to find twenty punts. This was about four years before the Euro and a decent tip in any currency. A decent tip from a top bloke. A case of mistaken identity where I was only too happy to be the victim.
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