A huge banner stretched across the back wall of the Alpha Street Hyatt ballroom, “Bravo Charlie !” in bold font and even bolder colours. The delta between the corporate conservative style of the place and the cheesy cheer of the banner was echoed in the disparity between the manager Philippe’s perma-smile and the pained expression in his eyes.

“Mon dieu it has got worse” he told his daughter who was the head of the waiting team that night.
“Now they all watch the dancing on the television and think they can pass off synchronised floor walking as a Foxtrot.”
The Rayleigh Golf Club’s Annual Dinner Dance was probably his least favourite night of the hotel year.
“I had a call this morning from some fool who wanted Chicken Tikka Masala ‘just like they make in India’ ! I am not making like a snob Juliette” (he so clearly was) “but we could bake a kilo of Lima beans in a vat of ketchup and if Mike told them it was ‘legumes au four’ they’d think it was Cordon Bleu.”
“You will win another Oscar tonight Papa” said Juliette to her grumpy Dad.
“The Essex housewives will swoon at your exotic Montreal accent – their hearts will thrill to the dulcet tones of the Quebec Romeo. They will have opened their own door as they got out of their husband’s eighteen year old Ford Sierra and then they enter our world and the thought of one tango with you in your uniform and their hearts are smiling.
Of course their little husband is the victor in the end, because while he is drinking whisky with the boys she is getting romantic thoughts because of you and he gets to reap the reward later.”
“Juliette you look at people like a doctor looks at an x-ray” he said. He was proud of how wise she had become, but she did not get that wisdom from nowhere. He knew that she was flattering him because she wanted something, and if he wasn’t mistaken it was to do with her exciting new African American boyfriend visiting from Chicago.
“How much time off do you need to spend with your Yankee Zulu then huh ? How many days do you think that compliment will buy ?”
“I will bring you the prettiest dance partners Papa” she grinned “and that alongside the flattery should be worth next weekend off”
Philippe grunted in agreement as the Golf Club chairman walked into the room and the perma-smile flashed its brittle welcome.