''A cucumber?'' asked the diners in unison, or rather, in 16-part harmony rather similar to that composed and arranged by those famous Swedes, Bjorn and Benny. I refer, of course, to Bjorn Borg and Benny Hillssen, rather than the more famous blokes who made up the BB part of ABBA, as well as writing all the music, and playing the instruments while their decorative partners stood around doing all the singing and turning sideways occasionally.
I refer, of course, also, to Bjorn Borg the psychologist turned composer, and not the tennis champion, and to Benny Hillssen the rally driver turned talk-show host and then turned composer, rather than whoever you assumed the other Benny Hillssen could be. Honestly! Never assume. You know what they say. If you don't, you can ask me later.
Anyway... back to the restaurant, and those harmonious diners. I replied, ''Sorry. Did I say cucumber? I meant a ballerina, of course.''
''Of course, of course, a ballerina of course. He meant a ballerina of course, of course,'' they sang, rather beautifully, I thought. Percy appeared to be thinking otherwise. He had a flan covering each ear, and one over his face for good measure, or maybe for religious reasons. I know he's a member of the Church of Latter Day Meercat Fanciers, but I have no idea of the tenets of their faith.
It turned out that the diners were all members of the local Gilbert and Sullivan Society, which explained the singing, but not the fact that they were in the restaurant. Tonight, they were meant to be in the Geoffrey Perkins Memorial Theatre performing the opening night of their self-penned show, ''The Ruddy Mikado Shows Patience up to the Gondoliers,'' But they had come here to celebrate the fact that they had a full house... How we all laughed when they told me of their empty stage and full auditorium.
I decided it was time to head for the theatre to investigate. I scraped the flans off Percy's head with my Tesco loyalty card, licked the rest off, and dragged him outside.
But wait till you hear what happened next.