Page 25 Spring 1991
The Most Extraordinary Dinner on Earth
(Reprinted from The Strand Magazine Vol XIX-67, 1909)
Albert H. Broadwell , Photographs by A.J. Johnson
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way, too, that would have you believe that coppers were withdrawn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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
garcon, remove these lamps, will you?" "Yes,
sir," comes from both attendants, simultaneously, and no sooner
said than done.
than lightning those lamps fly right up to the ceiling and are
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
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.
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!
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."
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.