5pm on Saturday.
The dreaded news.
A massive power cut on Krimo's side of the Marina meant that the restaurant would not operate that evening.
Dismayed staff arrived only to find out that they had been handed a rare Saturday night off. Most of them did not know whether to smile or to appear sad.
Hayley and I got our mobiles out and began disappointing our diners.
One lady had already begun to get ready for her 7.30 booking. And I had always thought Karen spent too long getting ready.
Although I could discern the disappointment in their voices, most of our prospective customers felt sorry for us and the irretrievable loss of business.
We suggested a change of venue. Portofino or Casa del Mar on the other side of the Marina were untouched by the electrical fault.
A few accepted and did dine satisfyingly at our other two restaurants.
I commiserated with, consoled and cajoled the ones whose special celebration had been spoilt.
Later when I sat down with a glass of wine, I knew that the fault had been repaired, most of our customers had a good evening either in our other restaurants or at home planning another outing.
I also knew that there was no use in shedding tears over spilt milk.
I poured myself a second glass of wine.
5pm on Saturday.
went very well.
I hyperventilated all afternoon but managed to stand up at 6pm in front of 4o people. I knew most of them. I could talk to them one to one, one to six but one to forty was daunting.
Tell them something funny and then you will relax if they laugh.
That same morning I was in a steamed-up steam room at my local gym.
The door opened. A female shape walked in and sat down.
I said: "Good morning."
She said: "I saw your photo in the paper last week."
How the hell did she recognise me?
Whenever I go back to my hometown in Algeria nobody recognises me, even in bright daylight!
I am a bloody celebrity in Hartlepool!
They laughed. I relaxed.
I waffled for a whole hour and answered questions for half an hour.
The organiser said that I'd had them eating out of the palm of my hand.
They couldn't have been hungry. The buffet had been sumptious.
The feedback was generous.
That night I dreamed of stage, Hollywood and Hamlet and woke up very early remembering what I had not said.
An audience (part two) ? Who knows.
Last night, I got funny looks from kids when I suggested that instead of money, they could pay their bill with Easter Eggs...
I have a feeling they must have thought I'd cracked up.
They were further puzzled when I told them that all the food we were serving was made out of chocolates. Even the spicy meatballs!
But when the parents smiled, the young ones' eyes lit as they realised that I was just pulling their legs.
I asked a few how many Easter eggs they had received. One four year-old proudly confessed: "Millions!"
Photoshop came in handy when I decided to cover Portofino all over with chocolate.