Gordon Ramsay tried to kill me. Not once, not twice, but three times.
You’ve got to admire his determination.
We’d booked Sunday lunch at his then three Michelin star restaurant at Claridges. When we booked it, I said “no nuts – I’m allergic”. When we arrived, the Maître D asked if I had any allergies. I said, “yes, nuts.” He said, “we’ll make sure there’s no nuts on the plate.”
And then served me hazelnuts as part of my starter. Then more nuts from my main. And then, despite twice saying, “I don’t eat nuts!”, I was served a desert with some crunchy bits artistically scattered over the top. “Are those nuts,” I asked. The waiter said, “no”, then looked at them again. “I’ll ask the chef” and he took away the plate – and came back without the crunchy ‘nutty’ bits…
Afterwards I wrote to Gordon Ramsay to complain. The big man himself wrote back. “I’m very sorry that…” and then the letter went blank for half page before “yours sincerely, signed Gordon Ramsay”.
And all I could think was how many complaints does he get that he doesn’t even read the complaints letters to check what he’s apologizing for? But it did give me the perfect space to write my own apology in the space.
“I’m very sorry that I am a big twat, yours sincerely, signed Gordon Ramsay”
Which was a bit harsh as I do like Gordon Ramsay because he got me into triathlons because he was competing in the first triathlon I tried. In fact, he was only a couple of bikes away in transition. And I remember reading that he used to get up at 5am to train and I thought, “well, if he can do it at 5am then it’ll be easy for me as I can run during the day!”.
I was so, so wrong…
I was working in London at the time and I’d entered the London Triathlon. I’d entered as a team and I agreed to run while my friend, Graham, would swim and a girl we knew from work, Sally, would cycle. It seems simple. He’d swim. She’d ride. I’d run. What could go wrong?
First, Graham had never swum outside. He was a strong swimmer. Had swum for his university but only ever in a pool. He borrowed a wet-suit and was near the front when he came out of the water. Then a man told him, “you need to take your wet-suit off”.
“What do you mean?” He asked.
“You need to strip out your wet-suit and carry it to transition”.
“But I don’t have any trunks on!”
It hadn’t occurred to him that he might want to wear swim trunks. He thought a wet suit was enough.
“But you were borrowing it,” I said later. “Did you not want to wear trunks for a borrowed wet-suit?”
“I never thought about it,” he said.
I was watching in transition as he went from first to near last arguing with the race marshal about how much of the wet-suit he could keep on while not disqualifying himself from the race. Eventually, with legs pulled up and top pulled down and waddling towards us in what now looked like the Michelin man’s rubber pants, we started the bike race – and Sally admitted she’d never ridden a bike before in the UK.
She was South African, so that was okay, she knew how to ride on the left hand side of the road. But she’d been in the UK for four years so was actually admitting that she hadn’t trained at all. Not even to sit on her bike. A ladies bike. With side saddle and all.
We went from near last, to last.
And then I ran. The easy part. Though by this point Gordon Ramsay had gone home hours before.
And I ran. And I ran. And I kept going faster thinking “I can catch up with the man in second last place”.
And then I cam back to transition and thought: “that was quick and I’m glad this is over”.
Only to find that I was running laps and had three more laps to run.
I hadn’t checked the course at all.
Needless to say, we didn’t rise up the ranks, I started last and finished last.
Then, to cap it all, we found out the London Underground wouldn’t let bikes on the tube and I had to cycle Sally’s bike all the way back from Canary Wharf to West Hampstead because Sally swore never to ride again.
And I got lost and ended up in Wembley.
But, because Gordon Ramsay was doing it, we swore (no pun intended!) to come back the following year and do it right because “if that twat off the telly can do it, then we can do it too!”