"I’m sorry," says the waitress, "but we don’t do our tapas menu today."
"You what?" I reply.
"That option is only available from Monday to Friday," she says, gesturing to the large sign, saying just that.
"But it is Monday," I reply, gesturing to the large dust-laden Almanac I always carry with me for just this sort of occasion.
"Ah, but it’s a Bank Holiday Monday," she points out.
"Ah, but it’s still a Bank Holiday Monday," I counter, not wanting to be out-Italicised by one of these Latin types.
I consider throwing a Hollywood strop as I really do want some patatas bravas but, deciding they probably won’t budge on this one, I instead study the menu of the tapas-bar-that-doesn’t-necessarily-serve-tapas-if-it-can-possibly-avoid-it and lump for the chicken.
I slump in my chair and study my fellow diners, some of whom look to be eating what looks suspiciously like tapas to me. My eyes are drawn towards the portly fellow and his lady friend a couple of tables away, both of whom I seem to recognise. He has an every-man and no-man look to him, and I struggle to place him. Is he an obscure actor perhaps, or an old university lecturer, or maybe a football journalist? But why would I recognise his lady friend? It clicks.
"Housemate Louise," I discreetly hiss across the table at my companion. "We are sat in a tapas-bar-that-doesn’t-necessarily-serve-tapas next to a couple who used to spy but no longer spy!"
"Pardon?" responds Housemate Louise, craning forward. I consider speaking louder, only in a more elaborate code, but decide these people are probably adept at deciphering such things, so I continue to hiss.
"Irresponsibly treacherous and/or principled whistleblowing former MI5 spies David Shayler and his-lady-friend-I-do-not-know-the-name-of are sat right b’there!"
Housemate Louise clocks them, and confirms my ID. We raise our eyebrows at each other in a ‘fancy that’ manner for a while. After a while, I speak once more.
"It was a while ago now, so my memory needs refreshing. They did, you know, catch him didn’t they?"
"Well, no, they didn’t really ‘catch’ him. He just sort of… ‘came back’. But yes, he went to prison for a bit," Housemate Louise confirms. "Why?"
"Oh, you know. Money’s a bit tight," I shrug. "Thought there might be a reward…"
I turn to get another look, and Shayler and his lady friend have disappeared.
4 weeks ago