‘Coming for lunch Blazing? I think they have a Nepalese chef in doing specials today’. I don’t need asking twice. I must have tried Nepalese cuisine before, but it hasn’t lingered in the memory for some reason.

As I join the long queue snaking its way back towards the entrance I catch sight of the ‘Nepalese chef’. I decide to give the queue a miss, grab a salad bowl instead.

Everybody was back in the office by one, enthusing about the eastern delights they had just sampled. I ambled back up to the restaurant.

‘Dirty Denzil!’

‘Blazing! How the devil are yer?’

I haven’t seen Denzil for a year or so. We are old mates and it’s good to see him doing well for himself. He was always a top notch chef in local establishments, but if anybody upset him he could be, shall we say, artistic. Even he couldn’t tell you how many people have unwittingly consumed his various bodily fluids!

‘What’s this Nepalese nonsense then? You haven’t been further East than Jaywick Sands.’

‘Now you know that’s not true Blazing. I did a fortnight in Bangkok once.’

Indeed he did, and I could not begin to tell you what unsuspecting diners may have digested in the wake of that particular sojourn. Suffice to say those of us who were regular customers at the time were under strict instructions not to touch the chilli for a few weeks.

‘You didn’t have the lamb at lunchtime then?’, he enquired.

‘Strangely no old son’.

‘Very wise’.

We chuckle. It turns out in reality not as many people have tried Nepalese cuisine as think they have. Denzil went to one of the companies offering catering services to large facilities within an hour of home. They agreed a deal for him to offer a series of one-off specials in the restaurants and canteens they run.

‘Where are you drinking these days?’, he asks.

‘The Grot. Guess who is landlord?’

‘Not Ossie?’ He sees me nod. “I’ll have to come for a pint with you one night. You know the cook that works for him?’

I nod again, nervously.

‘I taught him everything he knows!’