The Corner

Immaculate Service

While most of the news has been awful and grim, there are small human stories that bring some cheer. My favorite story to emerge from Mumbai massacre is from a Brit trapped at the Taj hotel:

‘I was extremely lucky. I was with a very good bunch of people. Three or four of us were Brits. There were some Irish as well. Most were Indian.

’We’d never met each other but I have to say, it was a true British stiff upper-lip situation. Together, the Brits helped to keep up morale.

‘There was a can-do attitude. We thought, ‘Let’s get the barricades done, let’s do the practical things rather than sit there like sheep and wait to meet our fate.’

‘There was a lot of crying from many of the other people and I suppose comforting them was a way of keeping ourselves occupied. My boss Christopher Garnett and some old friends were sending me messages to keep my spirits up.

‘At one stage Christopher sent me some stanzas from The Private Of The Buffs [a ballad by Sir Francis Hastings Doyle describing the execution of a captured British infantryman for refusing to kowtow to the Chinese in 1860].’

Nick added: ‘We all decided that even though we had alcohol within reach we wouldn’t touch it because it seemed like a bad idea to get drunk.

‘But come 5am, we were fairly confident the police were going to get us out, so I marched over to the bar and found a bottle of vintage Cristal champagne and opened it and began pouring it into glasses.

‘Then the head waiter came rushing across to me and said, “No, no, you can’t do that!” and I said, ‘Well we’re going to’ and he said, ‘No sir, those are the wrong type of glasses. I shall find you champagne flutes.’

’And he did. The service was immaculate.’

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