SOME GUYS JUST AREN'T CUT OUT FOR A 9 TO 5…
Read Part I here
Of course, the whole gift gesture was supposed to be a surprise but after a quick assessment of the lamp, I realised that this was no job for just one person.
It was bloody heavy for starters and consisted of four parts – a metal base, a tempered glass shade, a ‘thing’ that not only connected these two items but also housed the light source; and the light source itself, which is the closest thing to an ‘arc reactor’ that I’ve ever seen. Ok so this lady seems to have lost hers but usually, it’s located in the middle of the chest.
On top of that there was an overhead camera to the left of us and of most concern; we were on the 28th floor of the Hilton, Park Lane.
Oh yeah, one more thing. And I’m not just saying this as it makes the meme easier later on but there was also a security guard patrolling the exit who had a striking resemblance to Morpheus from the Matrix.
So with a heavy, almost apologetic heart, I informed the others of my intentions and though the cat was now out of the bag, what followed was something truly unforgettable.
By about 11pm the bar was relatively full, which was when we decided to put our plan into action.
Standing up, pretending to have a conversation at our table before heading to the bar, Twin A and Panda obscured the view of the camera (we hoped). In that time, Twin D and I successfully dismantled the lamp (with D actually scorching his fingers on the arc reactor it was that hot) and placed the various parts on the floor beside our chairs.
Stage 2: Sliding the connector and the base to the others under the table once they’d returned from the bar;
Stage 3: Trying to act incognito whilst finishing our drinks and settling our tab;
Stage 4: Collecting everyone’s cloakroom tokens and fetching their coats;
Stage 5: Concealing our respective parts under our coats and casually exiting the bar; and
Stage 6: Entering the lift, pressing G and getting fuck out of there. Or that was the plan anyway.
We made it to stage five unscathed but as we were approaching the lifts, Twin A started to slow down.
“Wait a second boys, I just heard the lady at the door saying ‘they’re leaving now’ over her walkie-talkie.”
And sure enough, moments later Morpheus started to appear from down the corridor. Now a lesser man would’ve panicked. But as the great Michael Caine once said:
The (real) Italian Job – fanpop.com
The best ‘lift’ I’ve ever witnessed was from the Surgeon on my 21st Birthday, again, at a bar in Covent Garden. You all must think that pick-pocketing runs in our blood and that we hate Covent Garden but I can assure you that’s not the case.
I’d hired the back room, which had been separated from the rest of the bar by a fairly large, red, velvet curtain. And for one reason or another, my brother had decided that it would look better in his room.
Getting it down was an achievement in itself but it was how he got it off the premises that warrants applause.
He slung it over his shoulders, tied the drawstrings around his neck and proceeded to walk out of the bar, wearing it as some sort of cape. In fact, so confident was he in his approach that he even stopped to have a brief conversation with the bouncer on the door!
We often reminisce about how he pulled it off and it always comes down to these three things:
1. You have to be drunk enough to think that you can actually get away with it (which has the added benefit of numbing the pain if you get caught and subsequently punched in the face);
2. You have to convince security you’ve got nothing to hide; and
3. The item almost has to become a part of you.
Now unfortunately I couldn’t ‘wear’ the lamp out of there. But I’d achieved (1) about an hour earlier and as you’ll see, I had a plan for (2).
Me: “Err chaps, I’ve just realised that it may be a while before we get to the next venue. We should probably make use of the facilities here, don’t you think?”
The others: “Oh yeeeah, good call?” And en masse we made for the cloakroom, just as Morpheus was approaching.
Panda Bear: “What the fuck are we going to do?”
Twin D: “Yeah, they know we’re hiding the lamp in our coats.”
Me: “That’s right. Which is why we’re going to let them be searched.”
The others: “Huh?”
Me: “Look, everyone give me what they’re holding.” And I proceeded to bury the various components in the used hand-towels bin in the men’s room. “We’re going to check our coats again, say we changed our minds and stick around for another drink. And whilst we’re at the bar, I fully expect that jobsworth wanker to ask the attendant which coats belong to us.”
Twin D: “And when he doesn’t find anything, he’ll think that maybe we didn’t take it after all?”
Me: “Exactly. And if he searches us at the bar, he won’t find anything either.”
Twin A: “Mate, you’re far too clever to work in tax.” Ok, so he never really said that but it’s true. I should’ve just been a criminal.
As predicted, Morpheus made his way to the cloakroom shortly after we had returned to the bar. And I’ll never forget the look he gave me from across the floor when he returned empty-handed.
All that was left to do was to wait it out and we were home free.
I forget what time we eventually left but we hadn’t seen Morpheus for a good 20 minutes or so and figured he’d finally accepted that there were far more pressing things in life than a missing lamp.
Rather than share the burden like before, I decided to take full responsibility for the operation and hid the re-assembled lamp in the sleeve of my coat.
Intercom person: “Doors closing.”
Me: “Boys, as the saying goes, the best things come to those who wait.”
Intercom person: “Ground Floor. Doors opening.”
Twin A: “NO.”
Panda Bear: “FUCKING”
Twin D: “WAY.”
Me: “Seriously? What is this guy’s problem?”
Morpheus: “Good evening gentlemen.”
All of us: “Yeah… hi…”
Morpheus: “You guys were on the 28th floor tonight, right?”
Me: You fucking know we were you clown. “Yeah, I believe so. That’s the floor Galvin restaurant is on, right?”
Morpheus: “AND bar don’t forget.”
Me: “Oh yeah, sorry. And bar. Why? Is there a problem?”
Morpheus: “Yes, I’m afraid there is actually. You see, you guys were seated at booth 12 and the table-lamp for that booth appears to have gone missing.”
Me: “Table-lamp? Hmm… I don’t know about you guys but I can’t recall there being one, can you?”
The others: “Nope. Can’t remember a table-lamp.”
Morpheus: “Really? That’s odd. As we commissioned those lamps specially in ‘10 and have had one on every table since.”
[Note: I Googled this the next day and again when I was writing this and never found anything to support his claim but I guess it explained why he had such a hard-on for us.]
Me: “Ok so look, here’s the thing. There was A lamp. But we knocked it over and broke it by accident. And we were too embarrassed to tell anyone so we just swept the broken pieces under the chairs. We’re really sorry.”
Morpheus: “Wow, you’ve got an answer for everything don’t you?”
Who is this guy? My ex-wife.
I kid, I kid. She’s lovely. And she also reads these stories.
Now where was I?
Me: “You asked me a question. I’m answering.”
Morpheus: “Well the thing is, if that was true, then our staff would’ve found the broken bits under your chairs but the area was totally clean.”
Me: “Well, I don’t know what to tell you I’m afraid. But we’re actually on our way to Whisky Mist [a nightclub also located within the Hilton] so if…”
It turns out that I’m clearly better at dismantling things then assembling them. As before I could even finish my sentence, the base of the lamp fell out of my coat sleeve and onto the floor with an almighty clang.
“OHHHH. THAT LAMP.”
Cab fare to Park Lane – £20. Meal for four at Galvin at Windows – £284.63. The looks on our faces outside when we realised we still had the arc reactor and that without it, the lamp was fucking useless – PRICELESS. For everything else…
If you liked this then I suspect you might also enjoy my book. Or not.
Either way, thanks for reading; particularly to those of you who share these stories and/or leave comments.