I go for a drink with Best Mate, who isn't feeling very well, and is a bit tired.
BM: I'm not feeling well. And I'm a bit tired.
She rubs her face tiredly.
Later, we go to one of Falmouth's many fine Nepalese restaurants. I originally booked for seven o'clock, but B.M. is released from work slightly early, so I phone and ask if we can rock up slightly earlier, and the restaurant and I agree at quarter past six.
The waiting staff seem deeply annoyed that we have turned up at all, and we have to ask quite a few times for a second menu, and a jug of water. Forty minutes later, we have both in our possession, but no food. We are now at that awkward stage where it's too late to cancel the meal, but when it does arrive, it will clearly be as ashes in the mouth.
Finally the food does turn up. BM, who is nearly asleep by now, makes an odd yawning noise and rubs her face again, this time pulling hard at the corners of her eyes. The waiter leaves.
ME: You just did slitty eyes.
ME: You just did slitty eyes to the waiter.
BM: Oh bollocks.
Discreetly, we study the ethnography of the serving staff.
BM: They're not very chinesey*, though, are they, Nepalese?
ME: Well no, but they don't get on with the chinese terribly well.
BM: So either I'm either stupid and racist, or politically quite-well informed and racist?
What could have happened was, we made a bumbling apology to the waiter, which made things worse, and the whole incident became full of terrible awkward silences, that revealed how fraught with difficulty any discussion of racial differences is in these supposedly multicultural times, and in the end you, the observer, is left feeling that this whole episode isn't exactly racist, but it does rely on 'fear of the other' in a way that is unsettling, and really rather old-fashioned.
But as life isn't a sitcom, it all seemed fine. We didn't have any dessert, but then desserts don't seem to be a big part of Nepal cuisine anyway. (UPDATE: although clearly, what the fuck would I know?)
Afterwards, I am passed by four enormously drunk Scousers. Thirty seconds later, the car alarms begin.
*Actually it might have been me who uses the phrase 'not very chinesey', for which I apologise.
UPDATE: readers with bad memories might believe there was an earlier version of this post which was about a Tibetan restaurant. How wrong they would be.