Over a second glass of Misto's house red (Luigi Leonardo Cabernet Merlot, $4.95 glass/$19.50 bottle), Marjorie Harris regales me with an amusing anecdote involving Governor General Adrienne Clarkson .
Harris has just returned from Ottawa, where she promoted her latest co-authored best-seller, Canada's House: Rideau Hall And The Invention Of A Canadian Home (Knopf Canada, $55), with a book launch there at tony Nicholas Hoare.
Since Clarkson - an old friend of Harris's from before she was regal - was involved in the tome's creation, she attended the soiree, but in an unofficial capacity, minus tiara and entourage.
"As the party wound down, Clarkson asked about six of us if we wanted to go get something to eat," says Harris. "So we bundled into Rideau Hall's SUV and took off into the night. We drove for what seemed like forever, at least 20 minutes. I have no idea where we were. We could have been in Hull for all I know!"
Instead, the group had arrived at a generic Chinese restaurant in a suburban strip mall.
"I asked Her Excellency how she knew the place, and she said that her brother checks out every Chinese restaurant in town to find all the good ones," says Harris. "At first, the regular customers were a bit surprised to find the Governor General in their midst, but they soon ignored us and went back to slurping their soup."
Clarkson was in charge of ordering what was a memorable meal (Peking duck with all the courses, fabulous sea bass).
Although Clarkson is regularly pilloried in the media for her alleged airs, Harris's experience with Her Majesty's appointed rep was quite different.
"At one point she got right under the table to fix the stuck lazy Susan," Harris recalls. "I turned to Ralston Saul in mock horror and asked, 'Can't you stop her?'
"'You try!' was the reply."