Ain’t it always the way? The more successful a person is, the easier they are to talk to, be with, listen to and appreciate. And so it was with Anton Mossiman. For the last five years we have always had our Christmas lunches in his restaurant. His bread and butter pudding is legendary – I always have at least five portions. I snap them up while the suits are discussing budgets.
I have found out from my notes that his place is a club – an eating club. If you have £500 and come with a recommendation, you can eat there and be wined and dined in style.
And Mr. Mossiman certainly has that. He has style and discipline:
- He runs every morning for thirty minutes.
- He has a bow tie for every day of the year.
Today he wore a shiny multicoloured affair that matched his shiny mono-coloured head. He has just celebrated his 60th birthday – 300 guests including heads of state ate with (and for) him. When I’m 60, which will be in 18 months time, I’ll be lucky to have 30 people visit me, of which not one will be a head of state.
Mr. Mossiman is very, very, clean with a relaxed manner, though don’t be fooled – he’s in there at the coal face and ready for anything. He leads my example. Pristine, Swiss, gentle and firm.
He cured a salmon – no it wasn’t ill – by marinading it over night in a simple combination of luscious lemons and botanicals. Then he sprinkled crabmeat, green herbs, and a few more essential elements on it before Lesley Waters, Wayne Collins and I attacked it. It was lovely.
Any food left over goes to the crew. The joke is that they all have forks in their back pockets. The food is always second to none on the show and if I haven’t scoffed it, they do. Smoked salmon is Sooooooooooooooo me that there were only a few slivers left for anybody.
We have four cameras, but a rolling gang of operators: Cutesy, Dan the Man, Biggy Small, Gaylord Hauser, Sherry Sherry, Biggin Hill, Pat, Nick, and of course Saff who has just moved to Tunbridge Wells. We used to have five cameras, one hand held that we called RON so that we could get Ron to run. But over the five years we have been bled dry.
Am I bitter?
No, more upset.
We make a really good programme on a shoe string. And if the crews weren’t so brilliant, we wouldn’t have a show at all. The gallery is a tight ship with an aston operator, who write the words you see on your screen: Christina Aguilangus and her brother Dave; producers; the PAs who do all the calculations and shout in my head: Horny Bee, Little Lettuce and Micheline Star; the lighting guys John, Paul, George and Ringo; and the sound genius’ The Boss and his cohorts.
The studio is run by the floor manager, Uncle ‘Eo – so called because his niece could not say Leo. He and I throw carrots at each other to keep us keen and when he’s not in I miss him dreadfully. He is my memory and my guide. So, why the need for nick names? Well, it helps me remember everybody but more importantly it gives us a sense of identity. At least, I think it does. I may be deluding myself but it is a happy place, although now there is a sad cloud hanging over us.
I don’t know how the kids keep coming up with the programmes, and I don’t know how I keep coming up with the gags but my body is beginning to give out, and now I am counting down the days. It’s dreadful but how else do I do it? Each show has to be the best and our best is often not as good as it can be cos we’re all knackered.
I hope I don’t sound bitter. I don’t mean to. I am trying to be philosophical about it. All good things come to an end, but this good thing doesn’t want to. Cu2morrer.