Friday, 8 December 2006
There's only one Jose Rosa?
Alex Horne – 8th December 2006
On 30th October we met our Italian, a jovial chef called Piedro Magnavacca in a café on Buckingham Palace road. What I didn't mention at the time was that his equally jovial co-worker, Jose Rosa, was from Portugal. Yes, of course we were excited. Two Europeans in one café, who wouldn't be? Unfortunately, after three of four questions about his enthralling journey to the UK it emerged that heartbreakingly for us, Jose Rosa lived in Kent. Not in London. We just couldn't accept him. Frustrating.
On 8th December, following an exceptional lunch with our Colombian, a brilliant graphic designer called Ligia Duran, I decided to approach another Portuguese café employee. I'd very much enjoyed an economical plate from the buffet - stuffed full of as much lasagne, beef, stew, chicken, spaghetti and mushrooms as I thought could eat without Ligia thinking I was a bad person - she hadn't thought I was a bad person, so I thought to myself, "while I'm here, let's get ourselves a man from Portugal." And yes, those are the actual words that I thought in my head.Having photographed and bade farewell to No.18, I therefore stepped back into the Madeira Café (46A-46B Albert Embankment, Vauxhall – I really do recommend you pop in if you're nearby and it's lunchtime) and set my sights on the friendliest looking potential No.19.
Luckily, it was almost half two so the midday rush had died down and I hit my target first time. After the briefest of 'hello's', I used my usual introduction: "Do you mind if I ask you a question?" He sensibly said: "Of course". I then explained the project as he nodded, taking the whole exchange much more in his stride than I was able to.
In fact, on opening our funpack to the Portuguese page (which they share with Qatar, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of Moldova, and Romania, by the way) our unflappable man nonchalantly plucked a pen out of his breast pocket and started filling in his details, without any prompting from me. If only every country could be this easy.
"That is not my age", he then said.
"I'm sorry?" I replied.
"I'm not 39, I'm 30", he said and pointed to the Portuguese entry where I saw I'd already filled in the couple of details Piedro's colleague had started to share five weeks earlier before his Kent confession called things to a halt.
"Oh yes, sorry, just cross that out", I adlibbed, brilliantly.
"OK. The rest is fine".
It then took me about twenty seconds to work out what that meant.
"The rest is fine? But, your name is…""Yes, my name is Jose Rosa. People call me Hugo but my full name is Hugo Jose Rosa".
As far as I was concerned, this was incredible. The only Portuguese person whose name I'd ever written down had the same name as this man, the second Portuguese person I'd ever met. Both worked in cafes in London. Both were called Jose Rosa. Incredible.
As far as Jose Rosa the Second was concerned, this was not interesting. So what, I'd miraculously already had his name written in the Portugal section of my funpack, but the age was wrong – what was so exciting?Well, I couldn't really cope with (Hugo) Jose Rosa II's laissez-faire attitude so took his photo, shook his hand and rapidly left. If I'd been in his position I'm sure I would have found the coincidence just a tiny bit creepy. Not him though. As I watched in a state of shock from the window I saw him pop his pen back in his pocket, purse his lips and then fill up a buffet tray with extra spaghetti whilst whistling. Amazing.