Perhaps the greatest thing about Europe is that it is one hour ahead, meaning that five o’clock drinks are a four o’clock treat. If Farage is reading this, he must be kicking himself.
I’m in a foreign hotel bar and the waiter heads straight for me and gets his pad out.
“I’ll have a G&T, please,” I say, full of confidence, because I’ve done this before.
G&Ts are a drink I reserve almost exclusively for airline travel and hotel bars.
It paints me as a man of great sophistication. Many of you now probably wish you were me.
But the waiter has a question.
“So, is that a gin and tonic – or a ‘G&T’?”
“Yes,” I say, confirming he has used the correct abbreviation. “That’s right.”
“A G&T?” he says.
“Yes,” I say. “A gin and tonic.”
“Well, but which you want?”
“But which what do I want?”
“Which you order?”
“A G&T,” I say, forcefully, and he starts to walk away. “A gin and tonic.”
He stops again and then walks back.
“Yeah, which one?” he says.
“Oh, which gin?” I say.
“You want gin?”
“Yes,” I say. “Gin. And tonic.”
And as he nods and walks away, I grumpily mutter “A G&T…”
He strides straight back looking annoyed.
“OK, we have a gin and tonic, and we have a G&T.”
I stare at him. I feel like he’s going to say more but he doesn’t.
“A G&T is a gin and tonic.”
“We have a gin and tonic, but we also have a G&T.”
“You have another drink called a G&T?”
“A house drink.”
“A house drink you chose to call a G&T?”
“It is a G&T Tonic.”
This makes no sense.
A G&T Tonic? A gin and tonic tonic?
That sounds like too much tonic. It sounds like almost exactly twice as much tonic.
And also, there is no such thing as a gin and tonic tonic.
“And what’s a G&T Tonic?” I ask.
“A G&T Tonic is a gin and tonic, but with tea and also tonic,” he replies.
“Tea? And you call it a G&T? Why don’t you call it a G&Tea?”
“That is a little confusing,” he says.
“Or a T G&T? Or a G&Double T? Why do you just call it a G&T when there is already a drink called a G&T?”
Because there is! It’s well-established! People ask for one all the time! I know I just did!
“I said,” he says, patience waning, “it’s a G&T Tonic – the T that used to be for Tonic is now a T for Tea, and the Tonic we now say fully and just put on the end.”
I can’t help but feel that this man must have to explain this five or six times a night, and that therefore he should be better at it.
“So it’s a G&Tea Tonic?” I say.
“Correct,” he says. “A gin and tea tonic, with T like tea.”
I’ve suddenly gone off the idea of a G&T.
My eyes instinctively scour the menu to see if there’s a simpler choice I can make. But I can’t quite let this go.
“Why are you putting tea in gin and tonics?” I say. “Or is it ‘gins and tonic’?”
“It is our cocktail master’s idea,” he replies, ignoring the last bit.
“But tea doesn’t belong in a G&T,” I say. “He’s just putting tea in G&Ts so you can pretend the T stands for Tea, but it doesn’t.”
I suddenly realise I feel quite strongly that you can’t bastardise drink names for wordplay alone.
Think of all the people in this bar who must’ve ordered a G&T and accidentally ended up with a G&Tea instead.
And because of all these G&Teas they’re suddenly selling, everyone thinks it must be really popular to mix tea with gin, and it’s not, and before you know it there’s Nescafé in my lager and Horlicks in my soup and someone’s opened a Tearoom in Hoxton that only serves tonic.
This is literally just someone noticing that ‘tea’ sounds the same as ‘T’, and then happening to have the resources available to actually sell that observation to the public.
Which I’m now doing, too.
“We also have a French Gin Tonic?” he suggests.
I don’t even want to know what that is or why they dropped the ‘and’.
My God, Farage was right about these people all along!
“I’ll have a lager,” I say, snapping my menu shut. “And the fish and chips.”
He starts to walk away, then has a thought and returns.
“The ‘chips’ are not fries,” he says. “They are ‘chipped’ potatoes.”
“But are they chipped like… chips?”
He makes a face and takes a deep breath.
I guess we’ll find out.
I am constantly on the lookout for assassins and kidnappers, all of whom I’m proud to say have so far failed. But my enemies are wily. Which is why I was so wary of this suspiciously-thin exit I did not use recently. Better luck next time, guys!
Rakesh got in touch this week to tell me all about Tomatan – a new robot he’d like to invest his life’s savings in. I think it’s a terrific idea. Who doesn’t require
a constant supply of peeled tomatoes placed into their mouth by a shoulder-mounted robot?