Sunday, 15 February 2009
There is an art to getting attention in pubs and restaurants. This might sound like the introduction to a useful tip - but, unfortunately, I don’t know what it is. Some people get served immediately; I’m in the category that can paint themselves bright green and stand on top of the bar waving tenners, still nobody notices. If one of the Visible People has any suggestions, please post below.
Or maybe it’s genetic? I wondered that yesterday, during a romantic Valentine’s meal with my family. My brother, who’d been gasping for a glass of wine for about half an hour, tried waving the wine list backwards and forwards over his head. Still nobody came. When the bill arrived, the waiter disappeared immediately without taking a credit card. Twenty minutes later, my mum tried shouting across the restaurant, “We want to pay! Does nobody want the money?” Still, an ice age passed before anyone slunk over with the machine. And we’re supposed to be one of the noisiest and most grating families in the media. God knows how discreet people manage.
It reminded me of the time I shoplifted from Brent Cross. (In my defence, there was no credit crunch at the time. Brent Cross was doing fine.)
I stood at the unmanned till with a mascara in my hand for a good fifteen minutes. I tried calling out, “Is anyone serving?”. I waited another ten minutes. Nothing. Then I tried calling out, “I am now going to leave the shop with this mascara.” A sales assistant looked at me from the middle of the floor, where she was slowly buttoning shirts on a rail. I showed her the £10 note in my other hand.
“I’m going to walk very slowly”, I told her. “All someone has to do is stop me before I get to the door, and take this tenner. Otherwise I’m taking the mascara without paying.”
She shook her head, but didn’t move. I walked slowly towards the door. I noticed a CCTV camera on my way, so I stopped. I wrote my address on a piece of paper, held it up to the camera and read it out loud. “If you want the money”, I said, “that is where to find me.”
Nobody ever got in touch.
So, the question is: Am I still, technically, a thief? I’m starting to think I might make quite a good one.