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Sticky Toffee moments....

Gordo's pictures of the Malmaison's big bash and big bath - landed him well and truly in hot water on the hotel's opening night

Written by . Published on February 6th 2007.

Sticky Toffee moments....

A very nice email arrives from a person called Victoria Tilling in Gordo’s office, inviting him to the opening of the new Malmaison in Princes Dock.

Managed by Scott Harper, one of the best hotel managers in the country, who picked up the Manchester Malmaison by the scruff of its neck a couple of years ago, turning it around from an also-ran into a cracker of a boutique hotel, he was rewarded by being given the job of opening arguably the most prestigious Malmaison in the country, a purpose built , several storey monolith on the other side of the wall. The Grade II-listed wall that separates the city of Liverpool from the sea.

Lit up in purple, the new Mal looked like it was constructed by teams of men in loin cloths dragging great slabs of stone on logs of wood. Gordo was expecting to find a Stargate in the cellar. Instead, he found a battle-axe on the front door

But, back to the invitation. Gordo replied that he would be delighted to come, sending back a note saying he would attend with a guest, as is the custom. He received a curt reply from Victoria Tilling; a bit too curt for Gordo’s taste.

“Thank you for your reply; however, the invitation is for Mark Garner only. Due to the high number of guests we are inviting, we have had to restrict the invitation to one per person.”

Blimey. That’s not how we do things in the North. A call to Scott put things right. “No problem, Gordo, bring whoever you like.” LiverpoolConfidential.com is not to be messed with.

Gordo normally takes a smudger with him to get photos of the hoi polloi to publish, but he wasn’t allowed to do it this evening. Scrote! magazine had the picture rights, but Scott said it would be perfectly OK! for Gordo to do his personal snapshots, as long as he wasn’t pointing the camera at celebrity guests.

Arriving in a buzzing reception, Scott welcomed Gordo and his fellow travellers, Howard Sharrock, Judith Watson and the Mullets. A motley crew. The first pal Gordo came across was Ian Pollitt, one of the Peel Holdings gaffers. “How’s it going, Ian?”, asked Gordo. “Great, thanks, Gordo. Just bought Cammell Laird”. Wow, so that’s what this crowd do in their spare time...

Anyways, back to the Mal. Gordo was intercepted by a delightful girl called Tina O’Hara whose job it was to show him the bedroom. Blimey. The Malmaison is, as usual, looking after the guests' every wish. Tina was wearing a fabulous pair of shoes. Judith, following closely, clipped Gordo round the ear and told him to make sure he got a picture of them. Which he duly did, along with two of Robert Cook, Mal’s hyperactive CEO, running round the corridors shouting “Fucking ‘ell, it’s the Confidential team,” laughing and disappearing into bathrooms.

Gordo was shown into a suite called The Toffees. Very droll. But, what a belter of a bath. Clearly it was his duty to get a good picture of this 6ft by 3ft by 4ft high wooden masterpiece that should have been on the veranda of a tea plantation owner's villa in 1927 Ceylon. Standing gingerly on a leather footstool, Gordo had just got the money shot when he heard the voice of an irritated weasel on helium.

“Get down off that stool, immediately! It’s brand new.”

Gordo got down, feeling very sheepish.

The Weasel snapped: “Where are you from?”

“LiverpoolConfidential.com,” mumbled Gordo.

“Don’t you know that Scrote! magazine have the exclusive for pictures?” said The Weasel, eyeing Gordo’s velvet scarf which looked a little too Bohemian for the navy-blue-Boss-suited-one’s tastes. It smacked of rebellion. He didn’t like this at all. “The big fat bastard,” was probably the thought running through his mind, “If he buggers the Scrote! deal up, I will be straight back to working the night desk in the Leeds Mal once Robert the Gaffer sobers up….”

The Weasel is The Group Operations Director. GOD for short; in this lad's mind, anyway.

The Weasel invited Gordo to accompany him downstairs to meet “the other photographers”, and worried him out of the room and into the lift. Howard and Judith averted their eyes as if watching a good friend on his way to the guillotine.

Gordo was led to the front door. The first glance he got of Victoria Tilling, he knew he was in real trouble.

“Here he is, he’s been taking pictures,” snivelled The Weasel to Frau Tilling. She looked Gordo up and down. “Scrote! magazine have exclusive rights for pictures here. Delete them all. Now!”

Gordo was filled with deeply dark, evil, violent thoughts as he eyed both of them in turn.

“OK,” he trembled, close to tears.

There was no messing with this one-third-of-a-coven. Gordo erased the pictures. Frau Tilling took the camera off Gordo and told him he could have it back at the end of the night. Gordo went in search of garlic and a 3ft-long tooth pick.

Scott has clearly used the Manchester Malmaison as a trial run. Having perfected his skills there, he has hit the ground running in Liverpool. He has brought some great staff with him, including one of Gordo’s favourite chefs, Mark Bennett. Mark has cooked consistently well over the past few years, delivering some great, old fashioned dishes which he doesn’t ruin with his ego. The dishes he dreams up himself are a delight too. The pair have also talked Martin, sommelier at Manchester's late lamented Establishment, into joining the adventure. He is a class act. Tell him what you want to spend on a bottle, along what you are eating, and he will deliver the best in the cellar and not just the stuff he wants rid of.

Scott’s attention to detail as a hotelier is awesome. If Gordo had been allowed to take photographs you, dear reader, would be seeing tables groaning with oysters, lobster, langoustine and shrimp; hot, rare roast beef, laid across warm buns like a red velvet carpet. Suckling pig and acres of puddings and lashings of champagne. It was stunning. Nothing ran out.

Chris and Paul from Albany Assets were there; Gordo has adopted them and lets them humour him by buying him drinks. Tout Liverpool was in the room, including Frank McKenna, the wearer of sharp suits. Frank came over and said hello. Gordo met him in The Living Room before Christmas. Gordo was torn between a very fair steak and a very fair receptionist at the time. If Gordo had been 15 years younger (or older), he would have been after her. The steak won. While there, Gordo took a shine to Carolyn Hughes, the PR gaffer. She told him a great story which included a few naughty words. Gordo was warned what would happen if he reprised it here.

Gordo spent most of the evening at the Mal waxing about how the restaurant would be well worth coming to. Indeed, while writing this missive, Scott called on other matters, reporting that the bar last Saturday was banging and that the restaurant had done 80 covers both Friday and Saturday. This isn’t a hotel, it’s a fabulous restaurant with rooms. Albeit very nice ones.

Scott, Gordo is looking forward to being invited to dinner. But can you ask Robert not to cry havoc? And keep the two dogs of war on a leash please!


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