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We tumble into room 2817 at the Intercontinental in Foshan, China, with dreams of room service and maybe even a little telelvision. We flop on the bed, delighted to escape the mayhem in the buffet restaurant downstairs.
I dial room service.
Two ‘roast half chicken’ and one glass of white wine, please.
Michel has a Tsingtao beer out the room fridge.
You have no sauvignon blanc?
The chardonnay is fine. Thank you.
Missus Walter, you want one half chicken and one glass of white wine?
No, no. Two half chickens and only one glass of white wine.
Yes. Yes. Thank you. Just the one glass of wine.
Madam? Only ONE glass of wine?
Yes. But two half roast chicken. I mean two people are having a half a roast chicken. Each.
Okay, okay Mrs Walter. Fine. Fine.
Missus Gail. (giggle). I mean Missus Walter, are you not interested in this very nice wine we are having in the bottle. It is a very good wine.
No, thank you. I only need a glass.
Are you sure, Missus Walter. The bottle is a much better wine and it is only 180RMB.
No. no. Thank you. Just a glass.
Missus Walteh I am phoning you about this glass of wine. The management is saying that you must take the bottle. That is okay?
Honey, just turn the TV down.
No it is NOT OKAY. I do not want the bottle. I want one glass of wine.
Ask them where the dinner is?? Michel pokes at me.
I hand the phone over.
Where is the dinner?
No. No bottle. Why would I pay extra for a bottle if I only want one glass? Can you tell me where the dinner is, please?
Oh, Mister Walter. The dinner is cooked already.
Okay. But Now I Am Worried That It Will Get Cold.
Missus Gail. I am very sorry for worrying you again. I am sorry to tell you that there is not anymore, what you say, chardonnay. I must give you the bottle. That will be okay?
Michel snatches the phone.
Don’t you have any other wine by the glass?
No sir, just the bottle. It is a very nice wine. This is okay?
But I don’t want a bottle. I only want one glass. What other wine is there by the glass?
Uhh, no sir, there is only the bottle, sir.
Ask them about the pinot grigio. I shout.
What about the pinot grigio?
Oh no sir, the management say you should have the bottle. It is very good sir.
No, tell the manager I want one glass. One glass. There must be some wine by the glass. This is a five star hotel.
Okay sir, I call you back.
Hullooo, missus Gail, this is the management. We have this.. what you say?.. pinot grigo.
Yes. Yes! I’ll have that one.
Uh hullo Missus Gail, this is the management again. I am very sorry to tell you we have been to the Olive Bar and the pinot grigo is too bad. We cannot give it to you. May I suggest the bottle. It is very good.
NO. I DON’T WANT THE BOTTLE.
Turn that bloody TV down, goddamit.
Miss Gail. This is the manager. Good evening. I have found the glass of wine for you. It is, how you say? Pusherkeys.
It is what?
Pusherkeys. Puysherkeys. We can bring for you a taste then if you don’t like it we can….
Okay, okay. Where is the food?
Food is coming.
White clad table sweeps in. One and a half hours later. A bottle of wine in a bucket.
Noooo. I don’t want a bottle of wine. I want a glass.
No, no, miss. It is just for you a taste. If you like, we can make the glass.