Le Relais de Venise 1/10
Telephone 020-7486 0878.
Address 120 Marylebone Lane,
Open Lunch, Mon-Sat,
noon-2.30pm; dinner, all week,
6-10.45pm (10.30pm Sun).
Price £30-plus, inc drinks and service
My task was to put together that year’s novelty hit, the pet rock. I’d take a large pebble, and stick it in a box with some straw and an instruction manual. The pet rock hit a retailing nerve that yule, and we sold hundreds of them at about a fiver a pop… a fair whack at a time when you could buy the Ritz, six intercontinental ballistic missiles and much of Venezuela with £20, and still have change for a cab home.
Had anyone come up to me in the past three decades and asked, “What is the most fiendishly clever rip-off in British commercial history?” I’d have snapped back, “Ah, that would be the pet rock.” But no longer: yesterday, a friend and I met an instance of chutzpah to make the pet rock seem a philanthropic gesture worthy of Lord Shaftesbury himself.