How to Score (On and Off the Pitch)

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Chapter 58

Bistro Lucia was doing a roaring trade by opening for breakfast on match days, which was every day for the next two weeks at least. No matter who was playing, there was always a full house and bookings were becoming essential. Being as London was very cosmopolitan with people from every nation on Earth living there, ensured that there was always a contingent from both of the teams playing which caused Lucy to become concerned, especially when the two rivals weren’t on the friendliest of terms which could lead to trouble. So far, there hadn’t been a sniff of trouble apart from when Scotland played Chile and there were masses of expat Scots in the restaurant who insisted on singing through the entire game as if they were at the game.

There were even half a dozen Chileans in the restaurant for that game who looked respectable enough, but the way the game went left them feeling angry and annoyed until some Scots came over to them and offered their condolences and bought them a drink to commiserate. They finished up as firm friends and trouble was averted.

Deciding that buffet was the way to go with the food was a good idea. For £20 per head, they got unlimited breakfast items, tea and coffee (no alcohol) and it meant that they wouldn’t be distracted by the wait staff whose job was made easier also. All they had to do was top up the sausages, bacon and eggs every so often then pop back into the kitchen to continue watching the game.

All in all, it had been a great success and they were banking thousands every day. Brian wished they could have a World Cup every day, well at least every year, rather than just a tournament every two years with the Euros thrown in on alternative years. He made a mental note to repeat this idea for the next Euros when at least they wouldn’t have to open for breakfast being on the same time zones.

The one regret for Brian is that he couldn’t be in Australia cheering on his boy. He had applied to have the ban lifted but it wouldn’t have taken effect in time, even if they did pardon him. So, resignedly, he was forced to watch his Bradley on TV like everyone else who couldn’t afford a trip to the other side of the world. At least with the Euros he would be able to take a train to the games. By then, who knew where he and Lucy would be. The way things were going, they could be retired as millionaires and living somewhere nice, like where his ex-wife was now resident. Something to aim for, he thought.

Lucy had to admit her life had taken a turn for the better since meeting Brian. She still wasn’t sure he was the perfect husband material, but she liked him as a friend and was happy to help him succeed in the business. Lucy had noticed a distinct change for the better in Brian since he returned from the US. It was like he had finally grown up and was taking responsibility for his actions. If that made him a bit boring and predictable, then that was a small price to pay. They worked long hours and got through some wine every day, but at least they were seeing the fruits of their labours and that was important to her.

She still wasn’t comfortable with some of his family though. Martine had seemed alright when they had met, but it was awkward even though she had found a new boyfriend. Bradley and Jessie had accepted her, thankfully and Brian’s other son Sam also. Maybe she was being a bit paranoid.

They had a few days to wait for Scotland’s next game which gave them time to source some Scottish items for the buffet like tattie scones and square sausage. Their two remaining group fixtures would be kicking off at 7 a.m. London time which was perfect. The kitchen was running smoothly, although Diego wasn’t sure about the quality of the Scottish square sausage, deciding that is was nowhere near edible but he would cook it if he had to. He did agree it was a good shape for a sandwich, but that was about it’s only merit. Tattie scones, on the other hand, were okay, if a bit tasteless. He did love haggis though.

Delroy had been looking a bit distracted recently, although he still did a great job being the catalyst between the front of house and the kitchen. The customers loved him, Brian and Lucy depended on him, but something was obviously bothering him so Brian called him into the office for a chat.

‘Alright Delroy? Just wanted to have a quick chat if you don’t mind. You look like you’ve got something on your mind. Is somebody trying to nick you away from us?’ Brian smiled knowingly.

Delroy looked a bit sheepish and stared down at his shoes trying to avert Brian’s gaze.

After a few seconds, Delroy gave Brian the answer he didn’t want to hear.

‘Well yes, someone has made me an offer, but I don’t want to take it. It’s a very good offer though.’ Delroy replied.

‘I’m not surprised Delroy. You’re a great asset to the team. Anybody would want you. Is it someone I know of?’

‘You wouldn’t know them, it’s a West End Michelin starred place. They’ve eaten here a few times and apparently they were scouting me. Bit like your Bradley, I suppose.’ Delroy explained.

‘So, how much have they offered you? What’s the deal? Let’s see if we can match it.’

‘It’s three times the money I get here and I’ll be in charge of the front of house. It’s not just about the money though; you gave me a chance and believed in me when nobody else would. I love it here and don’t want to leave. I might not be happy there.’ Delroy was close to tears.

Brian thought about the problem for a few seconds that seemed like minutes. It was the news he was dreading although it was inevitable. He didn’t want to lose Delroy, but he didn’t want to deny him the chance to prove himself at the highest level. He had proved that he could do it, and Bistro Lucia would never reach the same heights.

‘Look Delroy, we love you to bits. You’re our anchor out there and there’s no way we want to lose you. But, I don’t want to hold you back either. If you don’t take this chance then you will regret it one day. We couldn’t match the money either, so my advice to you is to take it. You deserve it and it would make me proud to see you do so well. Go with my blessing Delroy, make a name for yourself. You’ll be welcome here any time you like. Congratulations!’ Brian said sincerely.

Delroy didn’t know what to think. He owed Brian a bit debt of gratitude and he looked upon him as a father figure. He valued his advice immensely and he was pleased that Brian had taken it well. It released the feeling of guilt that was hanging over him the past few days. He stood up and grabbed Brian in a bear hug with tears streaming down his cheeks.

‘I can’t thank you enough for what you have done for me, and what you are doing now. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to do this; I would like to give it a go. Sorry boss.’ Delroy blubbed as Brian held him tight.

He left the office to go back to his job, wiping the tears from his smiley face. Brian found Lucy and told her the news. She too was devastated but not surprised. They called a staff meeting for that afternoon after lunch service to break the news to Delroy’s colleagues. They were shocked, but also not surprised as Brian announced that Delroy had been head-hunted to go and work for a Michelin starred restaurant and that he was an example to everyone there that this opportunity was there for all if they applied themselves right.

It was agreed that Delroy couldn’t leave until they got past the World Cup as they were going to be extremely busy during that time, but in the meantime, they would sit down with the restaurant manager and decide on a replacement as soon as possible. It might be an internal promotion, or someone who was known to the manager, who had numerous connections in this field.

Bistro Lucia would survive, Delroy would take his dream job, and everyone will be happy. It was the way of the world.

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