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Wednesday, 14 January 2015

A very curious case of One-upmanship.

People have no idea of good manners and etiquette anymore.
Yesterday lunchtime I happened to notice a youngish couple with a baby loitering next to a table in the bar and fingering one of the blankets over the back of the chairs.I presumed they were admiring it as they seemed to be stroking it in appreciation.Being a busy Saturday I didn't give it much further thought until 10 minutes later I noticed it was no longer draped over the back of the chair.
The Dentist was doing the bar,I asked her if she'd seen them move it,my first thought was that it had been lifted.
'Oh yes I remember that couple I think they're still here'
Further investigation revealed the husband still sitting at a table in the restaurant,and the seed of what had actually happened was planted in my brain.
I asked the Blonde to go and check out the Ladies bog..
Two minutes later my worst fears were confirmed.
'Biff you won't believe what I've just seen in there,that woman has taken your LAURA ASHLEY throw and spread it on the toilet floor,and Biff she's using it as a changing mat,the baby is lying on there legs akimbo bare shitty baby arse in full contact with the fabric!'
The Dentist shook her head in disbelief.
'They asked me if we had baby change facilities and I explained that we only have one loo and there just isn't space for the unit,they must have taken matters into their own hands..'
We hung around near the bar to see what would happen when she exited the loo.
Two minutes later she reappeared baby slung over one arm and my expensive bit of soft furnishing over the other,which she then nonchalantly REPLACED on the chair without giving  a second thought to the next unfortunate customer who might have the bad luck to rest their persona on the soiled bit of kit..
As if it was NORMAL procedure.
I recounted the story later to Chef.
'You're having a laff aren't you?you should have added a cleaning charge to their bill its not a bloody creche its a pub and as such specialises in the sale of alcoholic drinks,babies aren't exactly our target market  FFS'
Thankfully the ferocity of his response was limited by the fact that he had no idea what I'd actually paid for the Laura Ashley blanket(s) otherwise all hell might have broken loose on two fronts.
I do like bit of quality though.
People no longer seem to want to take responsibility for themselves, every need has to be catered for by some outside influence, if things continue the way they're going it won't be long before everybody will be afraid to leave the house.
Personally, I always found the back seat of the car a perfectly acceptable emergency mobile change unit rather than someone else's expensive soft furnishings..
The incident reminded me of another outrageous disregard for accepted etiquette which happened a few weeks ago.
We had a couple in for Sunday lunch,which in itself was unnoteworthy given the fact that Sunday lunch service is always heaving,but what happens next beggars belief and is possibly the worst PR fail I've come across in a long time.
I was just loading the next lot of veg into the rechauffe basket when OBBH appeared.
'Biff you will not believe what that woman on table 2 has just said'
'What now??' (with half interest,Sunday lunch service is becoming a tad predictable if nothing else).
'I asked her if she'd enjoyed everything and she said well actually I didn't think much of the food and I know good food I've got a restaurant of my own'
The cheeky cow.
The statement in itself might not have caused offence had those last five or six words tagged on at the end been omitted.
I'm not stupid enough to think that everybody is going to like what we do or even that what we do is better than what everyone else is doing,and we all go into businesses, local and otherwise and sometimes don't rate the food, but to go into another local business when you're in the trade yourself and pass judgement on what they're doing,its just not cricket is it??
It's also the worst PR favour you could do yourself.The thing is not everybody likes the same thing or even wants to go to the same place every time they go out so having a variety of similar but different businesses locally is always a good thing as you can feed off each other.I'm not saying we sent people over to this particular business every week but customers do ask for recommendations or people call in asking if there is anywhere in the particular direction they're going,then yes we would and have in the past given directions to this place on a number of occasions.


'Is she still here?' I was already on my way out to tackle her in person,but too late she had gone.
A quick check in the reservations diary revealed the name under which the booking had been made.
A subsequent google search revealed the name of a local business owner.
Reader,isn't google image search the best tool to hit the internet since the dawn of the global information superhighway.
AHA! Gotcha!
'Yes thats her,definitely..'
Who the fuck did she think she was,thinking she could surrepticiously come into my pub make disrespectful throwaway comments whilst the whole time expecting to remain incognito?
Well,no stone unturned *bangs fist on table* no stone unturned I tell you..
By this time we were all giggling that she hadn't bargained on Christine Cagney's finely honed investigative skills and would have no idea that she'd been so quickly rumbled.
In a fortuitous twist of fate,further enquiries revealed that the perpetrator conveniently happened to be following the pub Twitter account.
A quick follow back and Hey Presto! a direct line of communication was established..
Reader,I composed a very polite and well thought out DM informing her that I regretted to hear there'd been a problem with her meal and normally I like to deal with complaints in person, etc etc…
There's nothing annoys a complainer more than when you're nice to them..
I showed the message to the Blonde.
'Biff, she will have shit herself when that popped into her inbox..'
'I know,its perfect isn't it?'
We sat back and purred like a couple of butcher's cats in anticipation of the reply which must surely come soon.
Two days later and with no response forthcoming we were becoming a bit bored with the situation.
I noticed her Twitter account had fallen inactive which we judged to be probably a bit of skullduggery on her part to make me think she hadn't received the DM.
A week later and still no response.

'Well.. all that effort was a complete waste of time wasn't it?' said Chef .. 'the simple question you should have been asking yourself is: would we have time to swan over to their restaurant and eat a leisurely lunch on a Sunday'
'Well,no of course not'
'I rest my case..she was probably annoyed that this place was so busy'
'Well actually my efforts weren't wasted'
'How so?'
'Well she knows that I know that she came in here and cast rude social grenades..'
(this is all getting very Mapp and Lucia..isnt it?)

Two women slag each other off in quaint village

'Well that bitch won't be darkening my door again will she?'

I'd call that a win.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

I'll eat shit as long as I can sit at the best table.

There seems to be a growing movement of diners who approach the acquisition of their chosen table with the military precision and forward planning akin to a crack SAS unit.Nothing will thwart them from their ultimate goal:capture of the prize seat, this will often involve a forward reconnaissance trip to the pub beforehand and several phone calls afterwards..
We first experienced this phenomenon a number of years ago when the the local council decided to fund a pensioners Christmas lunch for around thirty which was very quickly oversubscribed.The group were due to arrive at midday as the pub opened but at around 11.30 I happened to glance out of the window and noticed a bus pulling into the car park.There's nothing as annoying as customers who arrive before you're ready to open up.If the front door's locked they will circuit the building until they find another means of access,even on occasion entering via the kitchen door fighting their way through the fly screen.
I'm quite adept at putting on the most deadest pan of faces when responding to the usual:
'We couldn't get the door open'
'Thats because we're not open yet..'
Anyway we were rushing around trying to get things ship shape early so we could get the door open,conscious that we didn't want to let a party of frail pensioners shiver on the doorstep and risk hypothermia before they'd even had their gratis Christmas turkey.
At this point Chef appeared.
'Jesus Christ come and have a look at this' he was standing mouth agape staring out of the window toward the garden path.
There was a veritable stampede of elderly folk charging drown the garden path ,walking sticks aloft,a flash of Queen mother handbags and cauliflower perms.There was even a wheelchair that would have given Dame Tanni a run for her money..
A disorderly queue formed at the door before the walking sticks were deployed into operation with a determined but impatient tapping on the door.
'We better open up before they put the window through' I shouted 'pass the keys…QUICK'
As I turned the key in the lock it suddenly occurred to me that there were around thirty clamouring pensioners rammed right up to the front door and DEAR GOD didn't the flaming door open outwards…
They could potentially go over like a pack of dominoes if a didn't get them to move back.
'STAND BACK' I shouted as loudly as I could 'I'M OPENING UP..'
I could hear shuffling outside and tentatively pushed open the door nervously, just in case.
As the door opened and I stepped outside to secure it on its daytime hook on the pub wall,I was almost trampled underfoot as a herd of nuns shoes and M&S slacks surged past me into the pub.
Ive never seen a set of seniors,some of them moderately infirm looking move with such speed and urgency..
Once inside there was  a further scramble as they each fought to secure the prime seats,the more able bodied fighting their way ahead and bagging seats for mates.
"Over  here Betty Ive kept you a seat!!' Several walking sticks were waved aloft to attract attention.
I  even saw a few minor scuffles break out.
With all the excitement the food seemed almost secondary.To be honest a fair few of them didn't eat much though we spotted quite a bit of turkey being wrapped up in napkins and tucked away in the lunchboxy Queen Mother handbags.
I was surprised given the agility of the field in the chair dash to be called over to a couple of participants and asked if I could CUT UP THEIR FOOD.

The other week I happened to take a call for a booking for seven people..
I was just about to put the phone down having extracted all the relevant information when the caller interrupted .
'One last thing..we'd like to be seated in the bar area'
"Im sorry I'm afraid our biggest table in the bar area only seats six people'
'Are you sure? We'd really like to sit in the bar area'
Expectant pause..
'Yes I'm sure..the table only seats six,I can sit you in one of the adjacent rooms'
I finally managed to get him off the phone but I could tell he wasn't happy.Something told me this wasn't the last id heard of this particular person.
Later that afternoon,after I'd just returned from my afternoon stroll with the pooch I caught the back end of a telephone conversation that made my ears prick up….
'Yes ok, I'll mark that down we, could do that for you'

I could sense trouble.They don't call me Christine Cagney for nothing (subtweet haha!!)
'What was that about?'
'Oh It was the seven booked tomorrow night,the guy said he was told he could sit in the bar area and he was just checking that it had been noted in the diary.'
Nothing gets my fucking goat more than punters playing the staff off against each other and GOD FORBID managing to gain the upper hand.

'WHAT?? But you know we don't have a table that accommodates seven people in the bar'
'I know but he said someone told him we'd put a chair on the end of a table..'
I seethed right through dinner service with the thought of the fucker dictating what goes on IN MY FLAMING PUB.

When the following evening arrived I WAS READY FOR HIM.
The chair was placed strategically on the end of the table in the main thoroughfare from the bar,it wasn't going to be pleasant for whoever drew the short straw and had to sit there with drinkers milling around behind,breathing beer fumes all over their braised beef.
And*cough* the odd member of staff inadvertently bumping onto it…
When they were all seated it transpired there were a couple of children on the table.For the next few minutes a plethora of children's games,cards and tablets were offloaded into the centre of the dining table.It was like a scene from Fenwicks toy fair on the last shopping Saturday before Christmas.
Finally they got around to looking at the menu..
I could hear mutterings.
'Is there a children's menu?"
I delivered the stock answer.
'No but we are happy to offer smaller portions of the regular menu'
There was more chuntering…then loudly in order to make himself heard over the top of the three currently playing versions of Old MacDonald Had a Farm
'I can't believe they don't even have a single sausage in the kitchen'
That did it.
I steamed over.
'Im sorry we don't have sausages on the menu today,so therefore there are none available in the fridge'
I had a little smirk to myself.
'Actually we quite often do have sausages,in fact they were on the menu only yesterday..'
How ironic.
I left them for a further minute to mull over the menu.
By now time was getting on and it being a Friday night Chef was getting tetchy for the order conscious of the backlog which was already piling up.
'Are you ready to order?'
'Actually no,we're just going to leave it as theres nothing for the children.I mean my kids will eat ANYTHING but theres just nothing there at all that they can eat'
I glanced up at the menu,noting the lamb chops,the steak,the pasta dish,the cod,the very tasty soup,various salads,belly pork,not to mention the range of simple sandwiches(what the hell kid doesn't like BACON??)and wondered what the fuckl this lot DID eat.
Reader,brace yourself for the next comment.
'Do we have to pay for the drinks?'
Lets just think this one through.
In addition to now having seven spare places on a Friday night and having already turned punters away,its now MY fault that you didn't like the menu and you'd like me to compensate you for the inconvenience by offering GRATIS drinks?
I toyed with the idea of telling them that if they'd put as much effort into finding out what was on the actual menu as they did researching the seating plan it would've saved everyone concerned a lot of wasted time and effort.
Instead I kept quiet and presented them with a drinks bill which was not received with warmth.
I consoled myself with the thought that the only place they'd get in at short notice on a Friday night was probably the one of the local Indian restaurants and pondered the likelihood of the kids eating curry when basic English fare was off limits…

Later on Postman Pat came in for dinner.
Popular fictional character

Not the actual Postman Pat if you get my drift but someone who bears an uncanny resemblance to the popular children's TV character.
Its worth noting at this point that if you are unfortunate enough to resemble some well known fictional character you might want to think twice about frequenting the same hostelry on a regular basis.Better to spread your custom around and thus avoid being tagged with an unwelcome moniker  similarly,persons who eat the same meal every time they visit may wish to ring the changes now and again to avoid becoming known by the name of their favoured dish.
'Postman Pat'
'Sausage man'
or even the unfortunate
'BLT on brown'
All existing customers of ours.
On the bright side if I ever lose my iPhone I comfort myself with the thought that the finder will make no sense whatsoever of the messages contained therein.
For example:
(From an off duty member of staff  doing a spot of shopping in Waitrose and happening to bump into a regular'
'BLT on brown heading your way Biff,ETA 10 mins'

Postman Pat always has plenty to say for himself.Probably because he has a chip on his shoulder because no one takes him seriously because he looks like Postman Pat..
He was troughing his way merrily through his meal so I thought I'd go over and put in an appearance just to nip any potential complaint in the bud.
Having inquired as to the enjoyment of the meal and having received an answer(well a nod to be exact-perfect timing his mouth was full)indicating the affirmative, I left fairly pleased and moderately surprised that the extra workload with the Christmas post hadn't dampened his mood.
I didn't give him much thought for the rest of the night.
Later as I was exchanging a few pleasantries with the kitchen staff, the Blonde burst through the kitchen door.
'Biff.I want to twat him'
'Postman Pat.He's just been on a massive rant about the wine list and how he can go to X and Y and drink lovely wine for £12 a bottle and he doesn't want to come here and drink South African Shiraz at 6 quid a glass when other places round here have far superior wine lists.And can I 'feed' this information to you Biff and can I tell you that you need to raise your game quick smart otherwise he won't be coming back soon'

'Ive told you before about holding customers at gunpoint and forcing red wine down their necks' said Chef helpfully.

Now recently we've employed an Italian kitchen porter who's family have been in the restaurant trade for many years and reader, the conversations I'm having with him regarding common guest relation problems are proving insightful to say the fact Im picking up quite a few tips on how best to deal with difficult customers.
I was particularly impressed with his description of his fathers likely response to this particular situation.Imagine the following in raised tone and and with accompanying frenzied hand gesticulation:
'You wanna go to  X or Y then?? Well getta  the fucka outta here,in fact I call you a cab.RIGHT NOW'
At this point the conversation became a little silly partly because our new KP either wasn't aware of Postman Pats stunning resemblance to his fictional namesake or had no idea who Postman Pat was,therefore the following wisecrack from Chef delivered with the usual ascerbic wit, was lost in a cavernous void of misapprehension.

'He won't need a taxi,he's got his red van parked outside'

'He has a red van?Jesus Christ fancy driving after all that red wine.. The BASTARD'..

I should have been Italian..


Sunday, 26 October 2014

Postcard from Ireland

In a break with tradition we've had a holiday.The public don't expect publicans to have holidays. I can only imagine the verbal abuse the staff will have fielded due to no food being available in Chef's absence.
You'd be surprised at how many people will embark on two hour round trip for a bowl of chips and a cheddar sarnie and how angry they are when they can't get them..

I've been encouraged however,to discover that wherever you go the poor hospitality worker appears to encounter the same ineptitude and buffoon like behaviour..
It was a Monday lunchtime in October when we ignored our own best advice and tipped up without an appointment at this atmospheric little place.

At 12.30 there were already three tables taken but Chef's eyes alighted on a prime viewing spot by the window and was already steaming over there to seize possession when the lone waiter intervened.
'I'm sorry Sir but that table is booked'
Prime spot overlooking the bay

Of course it fucking is,what the hell planet are we on ?
The very pleasant young man directed us to a less attractively located table,you know,one of the ones you don't dare book out because they're next to the netty door or the coffee machine (which always comes in quite handy as you can unexpectedly bang the coffee knock out draw with the force of a young Arnold Swarzenegger in the case of any awkward customer being seated next to it..its great watching them flinch like they've been shot by a sniper..)
Due to my extensive experience of belligerent customers and equally feeling embarrassed by Chefs faux pas (he should know better) I overcompensated and made a huge show of not being an awkward customer.
'Thats perfect,yes thats a lovely table we'd love to sit there'
I gave Chef a swift warning kick on the shin and he obligingly flashed his best rictus grin.
The poor lad looked a bit shifty and averted his eyes in embarrassment.
Which was no surprise really, as it had been over a week since I'd made eye contact with another human being due to the Mother of all Cold Sores which had taken up residence on my lower lip.
By now it was at the shrivelling stage and looked like I'd blu tacked a plump California raisin to my lip. To make matters worse I'd daubed Sudocrem(*cough*as we all know this clears up ANYTHING..) on the atrocity, giving the effect of a MOULDY California raisin.
It was indeed an eye catching display.
On the plus side I was feeling slightly more at ease as nobody knew me.

A predominately seafood restaurant might seem an ill advised choice given Chef's fish allergy but I'd already checked on line that there'd be something he could eat and was set on a nice plate of oysters and a glass of champagne for me lunch.
The restaurant was cosy,with eight tables in a compact space.
We'd already noted an upstairs seating area with windows overlooking the bay but clearly at lunchtime in October and with only one person working the tables it made sense to keep everyone downstairs.
Yes oddly one does need to make a profit.
Presently, I noticed a particularly flashy car pull up outside.
A couple entered the room.I could tell straight away they were Americans due to their huge blow dries and statement horsey teeth.American teeth are fifty per cent bigger than English teeth and one hundred per cent whiter.
Seconds later the wives followed in behind.
There seem to be a lot of Americans visiting Ireland at this time of year.Probably third or fourth generation emigrants visiting the homeland.The American demeanour  bears no resemblance to that of your average Irish person. With the exception of two places visited we witnessed a complaint from a cuz stateside every night.
Every single night.
And as with all things American, the American complaint is also exponentially bigger.

Apologies if this offends any polite and easy mannered American but this lot had a sense of entitlement and superiority that causes an interaction which should be an enquiry to come out as a statement of fact:
'You have an upstairs seating area?We'll sit upstairs,so we can enjoy the views'
Will you indeed..
My ears pricked up immediately,I wondered how the very pleasant young man might deal with this.
'Yes Sir we do but I'm afraid its not open at lunchtime,I can offer you this table here'
I glanced at the table right next the the front door and knew straight away they wouldn't be happy with being sidelined, they were definitely centre stage material.
They didn't go for it.
There followed an heated interaction some of which I couldn't quite catch,but I could see they were digging their heels in.
Finally in a loud voice I heard the threat 'Well buddy, we'll come back when the upstairs seating are IS open'
They stood there expectantly thinking they'd played the trump card.Customers quite often overestimate how desperate you are for their cash.
'Ok Sir sorry about that'
The waiter tried to push a business card their way as they stormed out of the door.
'He should have sent the fuckers up there and and forgotten about them' said Chef,'I don't fancy their chances finding somewhere round here as nice as this on a Monday lunchtime'
'Well they always have the mini bar in the hotel room to fall back on..'
'They didn't look the sort to be sated by a packet of Pringles and a seed bar' said Chef smirking..

Just then our meals arrived.
'Oh look' said Chef 'the sauce for your salad is in an oyster shell'
I was just thinking what a nice idea this was when as fate would have it,the waiter went to put down the salad and the dressing was sadly no longer in the oyster shell but all over the table.

"I'm sorry Madam I'll get that changed for you'
'No its fine,don't worry'
I grabbed at the plate.
He tried to take the plate again, but again I grabbed it and made him put it down,determined not to be a difficult customer.
Reader,I was practically licking the salad dressing from the table top.
'I don't know why you didn't just let him change it?' said Chef with an eye roll…
Minutes later the waiter returned with some blue centre feed roll to mop up the mess.
It would probablyhave been easier all round if I'd allowed him to change it,but still, I win, I'd proved I wasn't a difficult customer.
After I'd downed half a dozen oysters, a delicious crab salad and had polished off two lovely glasses of house champagne I was still a bit thirsty so went to have a quick swig of Chef's finest lager.
I was stopped mid track.
'Are you intent on killing me?' said Chef
Just then I remembered the infectious abomination on me lower lip.
'Oh yes, of course I shouldn't be drinking out of the same glass in case you catch it'
'Jesus,the cold sore is the last of me worries,you've downed enough bloody seafood to bump me off….'

After lunch and a pleasant stroll along the seashore we headed back to our lodgings as Chef had promised himself an afternoon snooze prior to the evening festivities.
When his alarm sounded a short hour after his head hit the very cosy 300 thread count Egyptian cotton pillowcase,I enquired had he enjoyed his repose.
'Well no, not really..'
Well,what was all that noise??'
'Oh.Sorry. I was having a look in the drawers and I pulled that one right out and the coffee stuff fell on the floor and I couldn't get the drawer back in and then I tripped over your walking boots and fell flat on the floor..'
Just your average afternoon then.
'No not that racket.Did you have the shits?'
What?? (indignantly)
'Sounded like gurgling and then the toilet roll spinning round.I thought you had the shits'
'Oh THAT noise..' (splutter) 'I found a coffee percolator in the wardrobe and I thought I'd brew up..'

And that was only the first day of the holiday...
Moody shot of an Irish litter bin.I can do arty.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

'Comfort,hospitality and friendliness are our mottos at the Shit Inn'

I used to love Sundays.
Just lately though, Sunday seems to be bringing out the worst in people.We had a particularly nasty complaint the week before last which exploded spectacularly on Twatadvisr and this week was no better.Whatever happened to the good old days when people used to come out for their dinner and if they didn't like it just didn't bother going back???
Everything used to be so much more simple..
When I were a lass everything was closed on Sunday.
All you had to look forward to was the morning visit to mass followed by a lovely home cooked roast prepared by your Mam or Granny,the only bit of drama coming if they forgot to stick the pan of cabbage on the boil at 9.30am ready for lunch at 1pm,resulting in the meal being delayed by at least an hour and cutting into the weekly broadcast of Savile's Travels…
All good wholesome fun eh?…
The smell of the cabbage would permeate every room in the house and linger threateningly for at least three days the fug only finally clearing by the following Saturday ready for the weekly re infiltration on Sunday.

Things are so much more complicated now.
The world and his wife go out for Sunday lunch,if you aren't fully booked on a Sunday then you've got to be doing something drastically wrong.
Everyone it seems strives to recreate the idyll of the family meal but without the effort of cooking it themselves,so they trail around the Metrocentre with kids and infirm Grannies in tow until wound up to breaking point then debunk to the local pub where they they allow the kids to run off their frustrations,then get annoyed and try to keep them quiet by stuffing them full of bread before the meal arrives.
And hell hath no fury like a mother whose offspring can't eat the meal she's forked out good cash for..
Sounds wonderful doesn't it?As a backdrop to all this just imagine how soul destroying it is to hear repeatedly in an audible aside 'thats not how I'd do it at home'
One of the biggest headaches on a Sunday is managing the tables to maximise numbers within the allotted time period,all the while not letting the customer know you've rebooked their table in an hour and a half so they'd better encourage Granny to get a move on,hiatus hernia or not.
To be honest,an hour and half is usually long enough for for all concerned before tempers become irrevocably frayed and the bill is frantically signalled.
There's always one to spoil your plan though isn't there?
The 12 o'clock tables are usually the least popular so what you'll find is that these will only be taken in desperation and are invariably the last booked out.
One of today's 12 o'clocks was a party of ten.They'd only booked the night before and we'd only accepted the booking on condition they vacate the table by 2pm so were keen to get the order promptly.
On arrival they expressed a desire to have a drink in front of the bar first which caused a bit of surreptitious eye rolling amongst ourselves,the last thing the kitchen would be wanting was a delay on one of the first tables causing a backlog before prime time 1pm.
I pointed out the menu, nodded encouragingly and was blanked completely.
25 minutes later the place was beginning to fill up and they were still milling around the in bar.
Sunday Girl attempted to get the order.
No joy.
With the time pressing ever forward I steamed over.
'Are you ready to order?'
I was surprised by the force and visciousness of the response.
'We were told specifically when we booked that we have the table until 2pm,so we're going to enjoy our drinks for a while longer ,then we'll order our food when we're ready,at least another 10-15 minutes'
This would have taken the time to 45 minutes after the time they'd been booked in for.
Direct action was needed.
'Yes, you do have the table until 2pm but you were booked in for 12 o'clock and its now getting on towards one o'clock and if I don't take your order now you may have a long wait for food and not very much time to eat it'
'Five more minutes'..
During the next few minutes hordes of people began to pile in and things became pretty hectic,so much so that we momentarily  forgot about the problem table and went about getting orders from the tables which had politely turned up on time and were happy to order within their allotted time slots.By the time I remembered them I could see the leader looking agitated that they'd been left in the lurch and was making her way over to the bar to place her order in person with the barman.
On my next visit to the kitchen there was a bit of a commotion going on with the order which had just been checked on.
They'd asked for extra Yorkshires.All ten of them wanted THREE each.Thirty Yorkshires for a table of ten people, some of which were children.
'You're having a laugh aren't you,what do they think it is a fucking Toby Carvery??' said Chef without even looking up as he dished out yet more veg in identical position on the neat rows of plates and well on the way to his usual Sunday afternoon repetitive strain injury.
I sighed.
'Don't bother giving them any they probably won't eat them anyway,its not as if you're exactly tight on the portion size..'
We only cater for 100 on a Sunday so only cook 100 Yorkies.It's quite enough to fit in within the 3 hour lunch period,so once you factor in a few veggies theres always a couple of spare Yorkshire's knocking around in case the odd person asks for extras,but certainly not a surplus of 30..
Chef runs a tight ship.
Surprisingly,when I took the food out there was no mention of the missing optional extras.I hovered around just in case I needed to deflect any complaints but none came.

Just then I noticed a middle aged couple who had just been seated at table 6.The woman was up and wandering around touching various chairs.I noticed Sunday Girl going over and helping to swap a chair from an adjacent table.
'What's the craic there? I asked as we passed on the stairs en route to the kitchen.
'Something about a high backed chair..I just swapped them over for her.'
'Uh? ok'
This is a new thing.
In addition to people now having very specific and detailed requirements in terms of the tables they sit at,diners now seem to be equally interested in the chairs which they park their backsides on.Only the previous night I'd taken a call for a booking where the person had asked what sort of chairs we had.I was taken aback at first then replied:
'We are a pub,some are benches, some are chairs,all are wooden with assorted backs,some wheel back,some straight,non are armchairs..'
There was silence.
'Would you like to go ahead with the booking??"
'Well,um yes... ok we'll try it'
I digress.
A few minutes later I saw the same woman up and wandering around again making the place look untidy.I went over to see what the problem was.
'Its this chair,it won't fit under the table..' She was pointing at the chair which she'd just selected in preference to the original chair and trying to force it under the table.
'No' I replied 'it doesn't fit under the tables for two,it has a wider base'
'Oh,well I need a high backed chair with a narrower base which will fit under this table'
She was already off again browsing other tables.pulling chairs out searching for a non existent hybrid chair which met her very specific requirements.
Enough is enough.
I thought I'd better spell things out.
'Look I'm sorry, we only have two types of chair,the narrow seated ones with lower backs (which fit under your table) or the high backed wide seated ones which don't fit'
I allowed a brief pause to allow time for the information to be absorbed and digested.
'Which chair would you prefer?'
I was unprepared for the answer.
'Can we sit at that table over there with the high backed chairs?'

'No I'm sorry you can't because its a table for four people and you are only two people..'

I briefly pondered suggesting she came back at a later date with a couple of friends.

Unbelievably the original chair was returned to the table and she finally sat down.
Sometimes there is method in our madness y'know..

I asked Sunday Girl to hold the fort briefly whilst I went to the cellar to quickly slit me wrists..

Just then I was beckoned over by the Blonde.
There was a problem with the ladies loo.
As there's always safety in numbers,we both inhaled a deep breath before cautiously pushing open the door and going in to investigate.
It was indeed well and truly BLOCKED.
'Not again' I groaned.
There is a very useful piece of advice which you need to keep in mind should you ever decide to do anything so barmy as taking over a pub.Its a bit of information which I wish to God someone had told me.
What you need is a spare trap which thus allows you to do that motorway services thing and stick an OUT OF ORDER sign on the door in the event of emergencies.
We decided to try a few mop buckets of bleachy water launched from a height into the pan to see if it would shift the blockage.
Six buckets later and I was working up a bit of a sweat and becoming a bit despondent watching the bleachy bubbles subside slowly revealing the blockage still wedged firmly in place.
'What shall we do??"
'Lets just try one last bucket' I said hopefully.
God loves a trier.
The gentleman seated at the table just next to the loo and looking mildly amused by the whole sorry debacle watched me struggle back with yet another loaded mop bucket,smirked and quipped to his partner..
'I think someone must have given birth in there judging by the amount of water and disinfectant going in'
Everybody loves a bit of Schadenfreude..
The last bucket was launched with vigour but alas to no avail.

'It's not a shit, its a flaming periscope..'
'What now?"
'We'll have to break it up'
'I suppose by 'we' you mean 'me'?' said the Blonde.
''re better at this sort of thing....'
'No I'm not'
I could see it was going to take more than a cheap bottle of Pinot Grigio to sort this job out.

Anyway,I didn't get where I am today by poking around in other peoples shit.
Well,not literally anyway.

'I'll get a stick' said the Blonde,heading off to the garden..I suppose this is what's meant by living in the sticks..
'Make sure it's a willow,strong but flexible and unlikely to break during the work' I said helpfully.
'Don't push your luck Biff' warned the Blonde.
We had to place a chair in front of the door to prevent people from entering,there was a constant stream of women desperate to relieve themselves,one even had to go outside and use the mens netty.

By this time things were getting a bit confused out front,the last thing you want during a busy service is to be two strong members of staff down,otherwise engaged..
I left the Blonde with the task of hacksawing the blockage in half,sending in Sunday girl for moral support.
Not even the Sunday the lunch din managed to mask the squeals of horror escaping from the loo at periodic intervals.

The difficult woman who wanted to draw up her own timetable and fuck up the whole lunchtime for everyone else declined to have her pudding order taken,looking me straight in the eye,unsmiling.
'We will wait 15 -20 mins before having our pudding order taken,and then a further 10 minutes before being served'
The trouble with this sort of customer is they're always brolly wielding harridans with enough facial hair to stuff a mattress or live undiscovered in an Amish community and not the sort you dare give any backchat in case you cop a swift backhander..

Bitch,you'll order pudding when I come over and get your order..
I smiled a sincere smile.

Eventually the toilet crew emerged,job done blockage(which was reportedly a similar length and width to six tennis balls) cleared.
By this time I'd been missing in action and absent from the kitchen for around 40 minutes which is a long time for me during any service,never mind Sunday lunch.
'Where've you been?' Said Chef
'Someone shit a brick' I said picking up the last of the roasts from under the lights.
'Not again' said Chef without looking up from his furious meat slicing'I don't know why we don't just cut out the middle man and fling this lot straight down the pan'

After service as we were sipping on a little glass of something which in some way helped to soothe the earlier unpleasantness,Sunday Girl piped up.
'Biff, I might need some time off this week'
'What for?'
'Well, its the trauma of that turd,there are some things which are just too painful for the eyes to see…'

None of us could manage any lunch…

Later that night I came across an old menu which once again had me reminiscing about Sundays in the good old days.

12-1.15pm what a great idea!!!
'Look at the Sunday service time-12-1.15pm' I said to Chef  'how great would that be??'
'1.15's a funny time' said Chef with half interest
'Well it was Sunday licensing wasn't it?Everyone had to clear out by 2pm...I wonder how many lunches we could knock out in that time period?'
'Well today it would have been none wouldn't it?' said Chef wearing his 'I told you so' face.
'What d'you mean?'
'Well,thats about the length of time you spent in the bloody bog today '...

There's always someone to rain on your parade isn't there..


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