Ok, so this one will be brief, but so was my brush with the great man. Well actually it was not so much a brush than an assault!
It was in Buenos Aires and just before the Falklands war. I had been sent over to meet our folk and say all the ‘right things’ one says just before war is declared between countries.
I sat in the taxi thinking of Churchillian like things to say before deciding that might not be a good idea as our local staff were all Argentinean except for the country manager who was Welsh (same thing really!). It was rather surreal as I was driven down the main streets of Buenos Aires which all seemed to be named after Irishmen including the Avenida O’Higgins. And even more surreal when I saw a cinema showing ‘Chariots of Fire' with subtitles which had queues of locals waiting to go in. Maybe they were looking for tips on how to defeat the imperialist oppressors?
On arriving at the Sheraton Buenos Aires I wondered what the hell was going on. The entire place was totally packed with over-excited, mainly female, Argentineans Who shrieked and whooped in a way I have not heard since. I elbowed my way through the swaying crowd and checked in. I asked the guy at the desk what was going on and he said “have a nice stay Mr Platt” He clearly did not understand so I asked again in the British way (loudly and slowly in English) and he smiled sweetly in feigned understanding and said “have a nice stay Mr Platt”.
It was all getting too much after such a long flight so I grabbed my key and fought my way to the lift. It fairly throbbed around that area so I lowered my shoulder and fought my way through. It was worse than playing hooker for East Grinstead third rugby team. Finally I saw a lift with the doors closing and I dived through the gap at the last minute.
The lift started almost simultaneously and I felt myself being grabbed. There were three others there. Two were enormous thug like creatures and the third was Frank Sinatra. The next movements happened in a seamless blur. First I was lifted off my feet by ‘thug one’, secondly ‘thug two’ frisked me and thirdly Frank (I like to think we were on first name terms by then) pressed the button of the next floor. Lift door opened, I was propelled out and against the hall wall with my feet still not touching ground and immediately the door shut. Welcome to Argentina I thought.
I got up without part of my shirt and a large chunk of dignity and got the next elevator too my room. To be 'frank' I was bloody annoyed so I rang and asked for the General Manager. “Have a nice stay” the operator started to say until I stopped him with certain words that need no introduction anywhere in the world. He said he would phone Frank Sinatra’s personal assistant and report back.
How did it end? Nothing until the next morning. I got up and saw that under the door had been posted two items. First was the local English written newspaper saying Sinatra was in town. The second was a clearly printed mass produced photograph of the great man with the word “sincerely Frank Sinatra”. Sincerely I thought? Was he sincerely sorry or was he sincere about chucking me out of his lift?
I guess I will never know now but I have my suspicions!