Page 25                                             Spring 1991

The Most Extraordinary Dinner on Earth

(Reprinted from The Strand Magazine Vol XIX-67, 1909)

By Albert H. Broadwell , Photographs by A.J. Johnson


Waiters are proverbially clever; in fact, they are mostly too clever for anything or anybody. The man who ever gets the better of a waiter has yet to be found. Not that waiters are not human after all, and who would blame them? - but they have a sublime way of juggling with your change, and in such a way, too, that would have you believe that coppers were withdrawn from circulation for the time being.


There are two waiters "par excellence" who claim special notice at our hands at present. There is no half-and-half way about them; they take the cake, the biscuit, the pancake, the bun, the wedding cake, and the champion cake all in one. They catch and throw, and juggle and throw, and catch and throw again; sometimes they miss, and then there's a crash and a bang, and the fragments of plates and glasses fly like chaff in the wind.


They are stage waiters, and form part of a group of four clever performers who go by the name of The Rambler Troupe, and their ramblings have taken them to most parts of the habitable globe, to the intense enjoyment of thousands of people.


It has been the writer's good fortune to witness the Ramblers' clever act at the Alhambra Theatre, Leicester Square, one of the best places of amusement in London.


The photographs as shown in this article are exact reproductions of the doings that take place on the stage. They will convey in some measure the marvelous proceedings which take place in the course of this the most extraordinary dinner on earth.


An elderly gentleman and a lady of prepossessing appearance enter the dining room of a restaurant. They are received by two waiters of the most approved and up­to-date type; their names will be Garcon No.1 and Garcon No.2.


Garcon No.1 takes upon himself the onerous task of unloading the happy pair of their coats, stick and fan. With an artful twist he throws up the gentleman's hat (whilst the latter isn't looking) and catches it on the back of his head in the most comical manner. Now, however, they are entering upon a more serious phase of the business. It is proverbially difficult to do two things properly at one and the same time, so that our worthy guest places a half-smoked Havana of the finest brand upon the edge of a small table close by. The waiters spot this, of course, and there's a rush for the coveted weed.


Garcon No.2 makes a dash, but misses. Garcon No.1 quickly picks up table and all and by an artful twist, and an equally artful jerk, he throws the cigar up into the air and catches it in his open mouth with the consummate skill of an expert juggler. Result: Consternation of Garcon No.2.


In the meantime our guests have taken their places. But the cumbersome standard lamps, with their gorgeous shades of flaming red silk, are found to be in the



"Here, garcon, remove these lamps, will you?"  "Yes, sir," comes from both attendants, simultaneously, and no sooner said than done.


Quicker than lightning those lamps fly right up to the ceiling and are caught

again and placed aside, to the horror and amazement of the diners!


It is the waiters' turn to be startled, however, for no sooner have they

returned with the necessaries "to follow" than the lady does a little juggling of her own. Up go the serviettes, to the consternation of Garcons 1 and 2, who are fairly caught at their own game.


The example seems contagious. So up go the gentleman's knives and forks and spoons in a rush. He has quite forgotten his dinner; he will show his fair partner that she is by no means the only pebble on the beach. But, lo! Her knives and her spoons and her forks follow his knives, spoons and forks in rapid succession. In fact, it is a case of a knife for a knife and a spoon for a spoon!


The waiters are happy. Here at last they have met with a pair worthy of their steel! No.1 is jubilant; No.2 tries to look like it.


"Enough, enough; soup, waiter, do you hear? Bring the soup, or I'll wipe the floor with you."


"Clear or thick?"


"Clear, and be quick about it," comes the stinging reply.  There is a lull and a hush, a dead silence creeps over an overstrung audience. Whatever is going to happen now?

1.  The guest lays his cigar on a table.

1.  The guest lays his cigar on a table.

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