After a few drinks we walked along the Strand to the India Club - one of the most bizarre restaurants I've ever visited. There are no neon signs or menus in the window. The entrance is in an inconspicuous doorway, with only a small plaque to alert passers-by to the restaurant's existence.
After ascending three flights of stairs, you enter a room that looks like the refectory of an Antarctic research station or a nuclear bunker, with cheap formica tables and garish flourescent strip lights. I kept expecting people to enter through an airlock.
The waiters always seem surprised by anyone's arrival. On one visit I discovered them all fast asleep, lying on rows of chairs pulled together (I crept out and returned later). They are also flummoxed by standard restaurant practices, like putting plates on the table. Instead of moving glasses and side dishes to make room, the waiters stare impassively at the table, as if contemplating an algebraic equation.
The restaurant isn't licensed, but if you ask for beer a Polish girl will mysteriously appear five minutes later with a bottle of Eastern European beer and a request for hard cash. It is all very strange. But then the food arrives and apart from being very reasonably priced, it is gorgeous - better than anything most Indian restaurants serve.
During the evening, one friend confessed that when he was doing a postgrad course, he'd made a compilation cassette called "Seduction Tape." The idea was simple enough: he'd entice girls back to his room, turn the heating up to maximum and put the tape on.
He then revealed the track listing. This was the fourth track:
Not a great seduction song, to put it mildly. Sailor only had two hits and were generally regarded as the poor man's Roxy Music. By the time this song appeared on my friend's compilation tape, Sailor were a distant memory from another decade. Surely this seduction technique couldn't have worked?
However, my friend had the last word: "Reader, I married her."