Llew and I are mourning the loss of our local. It’s not a local in the true sense (which I think has to be a pub), but it was definitely the annex to our home from day one. The very day we took possession of our apartment, we celebrated with dinner at Jellyfish, and it was the first of many, many, many meals there with a procession of friends and family that came from as far afield as London and Port Moresby. We claimed it, we loved it, we ought to have had shares in it. You may remember Jellyfish from a post of several months back, about how we came to buy our favourite local cafe’s communal table, and I am sitting at that enormous piece of furniture right now. As a desk it is its own empire. And I must say, it is lovely to have plucked something so spectacular from the ruins.
We had our last meal at Jellyfish last Friday night. I had a mad day, Llew had a mad day, and by the time we were finally reunited, it was after 9pm and neither of us had had dinner or even so much as a Campari and soda. We hesitated about even going there – see what’s happened?! – but then reasoned that by the time we got down to the village proper, kitchens would be closing left, right, and centre and we’d be in danger of having to line up for a kebab on Sydney Road with all the youth (who for some reason are now sporting all the 80s gear we couldn’t wait to be rid of back when it was a n-e-w thing… it’s inconceivable to me that this appalling style-free decade is actually being imitated now – who’d have thought?! Poor pets). So reluctantly we cut our losses and ducked our heads and fought our way through the tarp into Jellyfish.
I wish they’d change the name. It doesn’t seem right to me that they can keep the name but spoil the atmosphere. I don’t know what that shark-silver bar with the wave effect is all about, but you can keep it. And as for the tarp, drop the opening and it’s as close as a cave in there. I felt like a canary in a mine. The ocean and its exquisite relief was just outside, but we couldn’t cut through the plastic to get at some of that oxygen. Nope. We were trapped with the floor manager instead.
I hate to keep harping on about the old Jellyfish, but one of the things the old owners nailed was the combination of floor and kitchen. Pete was on the floor, one of three owners, and he was just incredibly good at his job. Absolutely knew the difference between obliging and intrusive. Oh how we missed him – sob! – on Friday night. I haven’t been as murderously irritated by another individual since the Nerds Gone Native during and post-Vanuatu. I wanted to stab this guy with my fork. And the shame of it is that our food was good. If I averted my gaze from that garish Modern Australian Coastal Eatery Refit (as Llew said, “They’ve turned it into Dee Why…” – can we please, puh-lease ease up on the beach theme, people? We get it, we get it, there’s water out there, gotcha), and if I covered my ears to drown out the floor manager’s voice, I could have almost had a good time. But, you know, I cover my ears, I don’t eat; I don’t cover my ears, I hear idiot.
He was the most boorish loudmouth I’ve encountered since the man on the train from the airport after Vanuatu, no question. Actually they reminded me of each other a lot. The people at the table next to ours were trying to have a romantic date – champagne and all – and this dick stood over their table systematically ruining it for them, proclaiming over and over again that he “just loves people, I love talking to people, I just love those people, there’s nothing I love more than spending night after night talking to people.” Um. No. No, buddy, that would be talking at people, and I’m pretty sure if we read some of the feedback forms they’re now including with the bill (nothing smacks of desperation quite like a ‘Tell Us What You Think!’ quiz for the diner. It lacks confidence, and it asks the customer to work without pay), all those people, night after night, might be getting a little sick of all that love.
Worse, he kept threatening to give them a song. “I’m a performer, I love singing, I love interacting with my audience, with my fans. People are always telling me they just love listening to me sing, it makes people happy. Just wait, wait right here, I’ll be right back, I’ll do a number for you and it’ll blow you away. People love my singing, and I love to sing, I couldn’t stop even if I wanted to.”
Llew and I looked at each other, terrified. Llew pleaded with his eyes: please don’t let him sing, Di. I shook my head and started eating faster. Thankfully Sinatra was called away and had to go do some actual work (and didn’t he ever want a biscuit afterwards! He wanted a big round of applause from the audience so, so badly as he self-consciously hefted a milk crate from out back and walked it to the fridge like it was the Mr Universe final and all the girls were screaming for him), and you should have seen this couple burn out of there whilst his back was turned. He sensed it, and turned slowly toward the exit – “N-o-o-o-o…!!” – and even tried calling them back, but luckily they had a good head-start, and I found myself cheering them on – “Don’t look back, just run, run, run for your lives!” as they fought the tarp and finally won).
With them gone, we became the little fawns in the open field. I almost gagged in my haste to flee to safety. Refusing to make eye contact with Sinatra, lest he mistake it for an invitation to break into song instead of deliver our bill to the table, we dashed for the cashier, threw money at her face, then ducked and covered until we were safely on the other side. Jellyfish, it was fun, but we’re through.