Musings are thoughts, the thoughtful kind. For the purpose of these articles, a-musings are thoughts that might amuse, entertain and even enlighten.
Does anyone out there still remember Buddy Holly? He was the singing hero of my teenage years and my skin still tingles every time I hear his song, ‘Peggy Sue’. Of course, I don’t actually hear it on the radio but I have my playlists on the computer, and Buddy is one of my favourites.
“If you knew Peggy Sue, then you’d know why I love you, my Peggy, my Peggy Sue”, or words to that effect – you know what it’s like when you sing along – neither words nor music fit exactly but you still feel the ecstasy.
What’s all this about, you might well be asking; well let me tell you about my Peggy Sue, better known as Sue, the amazing lady who owns and runs Razmataz, the Nepalese restaurant on the strip in Rodney Bay.
Sue and her husband, John, came to St Lucia more than two decades ago and settled down to a new life on the island – I don’t know the details but, like many an ex-pat, they had done well enough back home and decided they wanted new challenges. Having said that, we all know of other ex-pats who never achieved much back home and fled to the Caribbean in search of easier successes. Well, as they say, migrants come in all shapes and sizes, as the countries of Europe are now discovering.
John and Sue first set up Razmataz on the site where they are building the Harbour Club Hotel (watch that space – it is going to be something very special) on the Gros Islet highway by the Marina. One year later they moved to their present spot in Rodney Bay Village, just opposite the Royal St Lucian hotel. Everyone thought they were crazy. They were the first restaurant on the strip. Razmataz has outlasted all the competition. Quality clearly counts.
For old-timers like me, the evenings when John would don his guitar and sing for guests will remain magic memories. He had all the old favourites off pat and could pull them up at will. He also had a wicked sense of humour – risqué was the least one could say of his jokes, blasphemous others might say, but despite the tinge of blue that coloured most of his stories he had a heart of gold and it was all great fun, especially for us northerners.
“Northerners” by the way, for those of you not in the know, are people fortunate enough to have been born north of Birmingham – some say the Watford Gap Motorway Service (Gas) Station, but that’s a bit too far south for my taste – where we say what we mean, speak our mind as it were, and don’t take crap from anyone. We also speak our own languages; there is in the east the beautiful, expressive Broad Yorkshire, and then there’s the other one, ‘on t’other side ot’ Pennines that lacks the melodic tones and harmonies of Broad Yorkshire. John came from the ‘wrong’ side but his skill with the guitar and his ability with words allowed him to overcome these disadvantages.
Magical, magic Perry Como moments; John could conjure up famous faces and celebrities from thin air. His guitar had been given him by Elvis himself; Paul Simon was often hidden in a corner … And then John died and the music stopped. It was quick in the end, very painful but mercifully fast, a brain tumour and Sue was left standing on her own.
Now I have to tell you something about Sue: she is a bit different from other people. She comes from Cheshire, which is quite a different place from Lancashire. Sue is one tough, lovely woman, For the past ten years or so since John’s death she has laboured valiantly to keep her business going through many a lean year.
This month, Razmataz celebrates it 20th anniversary which is an achievement that few restaurants can boast of. Sue recruits, trains and mothers a staff that can vary between 14 and 20 employees. The service is always meticulous, caring and attentive. The food is delicious, sometimes hot and spicy, other times just perfectly prepared to bring out the delicious flavours conjured up by Nepalese Chef Diphendra and his kitchen staff.
Diphendra has been at Razmataz since the very beginning, despite numerous attempts to lure him away by competing eateries. The same restaurant, the same chef in a 20-year partnership serving visitors and locals alike – not bad really for a young lass from Cheshire. If you have never eaten there, you should give yourselves a treat – who knows, you might find yourself sitting next to someone really famous, like Elvis!