Monday, September 17, 2007

Tales from Reids

I dipped into the autobiography of hotelier Jean Burca, who worked his way up from a commis waiter in the Savoy (London) to General Manager of Reid's. It was he who was ferried out to greet the liner carrying General Batista and his family, fleeing from Cuba in 1959.

He has a couple of good stories:

Their (Portuguese) Food & Beverages Manager came highly recommended by the manager of the Connaught Hotel, London. Turned out he borrowed money from the staff, stole the silver, built up a line of credit by pretending to be the manager of Reids, and spread the word that his wife was going to import horses from Ireland. The Governer of Madeira received a letter from the Portuguese Ambassador in Dublin, complaining that he'd lent £300 to "the manager of Reid's" and hadn't seen it again.

You wonder if Mr Connaught was playing a practical joke...

The other good snippet was when a letter arrived from Alessandri Prison, in Italy. A young man had seen a feature on Reids and really wanted to visit. So, he robbed a bank (as you do). Not very sucessfully, as it turned out.

The manager verified his story, then sent him two thousand escudos with a note saying he hoped one day his dreams would come true.

Inviting a robber to stay at your filled-with-wealthy-guests hotel. Hmm...

No comments: