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Impromptu Magic: One bartender’s transformation of an ordinary lunch

This post is the eleventh in our England 2015 series.

A fleeting, ordinary moment can take root in one’s memory with just a bit of attention.

Even with our “four-things” limit at the British Museum, we desperately needed to stop for some nourishment once we left. The Queen’s Larder fit the bill — a close walk from the museum, not too crowded, with real ale for Jon. The grown-ups enjoyed our usual meat pie and salad while Lucy and Rosie shared a brie sandwich. (Such decadence, and just for lunch!)
Window seat play.

As we settled in to wait for our food with the girls creating their own little story involving the tiny brocade kitten from the British Museum and a variety of condiments, our attention was caught by the bartender behind the counter. He was displaying his impressive juggling skills, nonchalantly flipping wine bottles in the air. We complimented him on his dexterity and, seeing that he had an audience, he proposed a challenge: could we balance a fork and knife on a glass with a single matchstick?

After struggling (and failing) for a few minutes, he showed us the secret. “This trick earned me lots of free drinks at university,” he said. (Good to know our girls can get a head start practicing this one!)
Training in bar tricks.

Travel heightens my sense of expectation. What new adventure will we find just around the corner? Being ready for a curious encounter helps me to pay attention more carefully to the world around me. That readiness gives me a boldness to engage that I’m sometimes too distracted or too lazy to harness. If we had ignored the bartender’s bottle-flipping tricks, this meal would have dissolved into the sea of all the other restaurant meals we had. I’m sure we missed many other opportunities — but we caught this one, and it strengthened those experience-catching skills just a tiny bit more.

Closeup of bar trick.

Read the next post in our England 2015 series: Somebody Stop Me: The wax and wane of appetites.

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