One day whilst working upstairs in the Boulangerie the owner of the Paparazzi Restaurant downstairs, Nick McSomething came up a little too quickly and asked me if I'd like to earn twenty pounds for half an hours work. I expressed interest but I wanted to know more, to which Nick replied "Oh, nothing like that!" This puzzled me even more.
He took me downstairs and introduced me to a couple of ladies who proposed I should be a strippergram for one of the ladies' sister's birthday. Always good for a laugh I accepted and with the ladie's help created a profile of her sister to help me write a poem.
The party was to be a closed door affair and was to be held in an Indian restaurant. I was to come in dressed as a waiter, carrying the cake which was in the shape of a large pink 'thingy y'know... MAN's thingy!' with paint brush bristles for hair.
It was only later that I found out that the lady was Marie Montegriffo who was then the Lady Mayoress of Gibraltar.
The day of the party came and although Roger, my boss, was quite worried about the reputation of the Boulangerie should word get out of the extra curriculum activities of it's staff, I was really looking forward to it.
I waited in the kitchen and when the time came I took in the cake, set it down and read the poem.
Happy Birthday Anna,
Well here's a surprise,
going on tonight,
before your very eyes.
To help you celebrate,
a cake, You can't beat it,
but judging by the shape,
you'll have your cake and eat it!
Two fellows by the roadside,
you're looking for another,
here's another fellow,
come and help me uncover.
However the funniest part of the performance came from Annette who was completely lost and had no idea whatsoever of what was happening. She'd never even heard of a 'strippergram'.
After all was sorted I was invited to join the party and had a great time and found Annette who is also called Anna-Marie to be totally fascinating.
The photo above was taken in '93 when I took a holiday to Benalmedina with my then fiancee Claire and we visited Anna-Marie at her shop 'Alba' in Gibraltar. I used this photo because for some reason she's neve let me have any of the photos from the party. I wonder why.
When I moved to London in '91 to work at Healthcare Magazine one of the perks of the job was the ability to make telephone calls around the world in our own time. I made use of this and phoned Annette in her shop in Gibraltar only to be told that she was in fact in London. It transpired that her father, Chris Montegriffo, was ill and had been brought to London for treatment at a hospital literally a short walk from where I was working.
It's a small world out there.