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Thursday, 7 July 2016

Run Forrest, run!

We're sick of talking about the results of the referendum and the potential craziness and long term implications this could unleash on the pub trade.I was actually caught on the hop with the result having chatted to everyone that came into the pub the day before and having only come across ONE Brexiteer.I'm not sure what that says if anything about the types of people we have frequenting here but it had the effect of lulling me into a false sense of security, but thankfully we did make to to the polling station finally at 9.50 to cast our vote.THANK GOD for that otherwise I would have been blaming people like us who didn't bother for next mornings calamitous result.
Lunchtime on result day was pleasingly busy which took my mind off things for a while.I briefly wondered if people were out to drown their sorrows or just having a last minute splurge whilst the going was still good.
The thought that people might actually be out celebrating never even entered my head.
I was further distracted by a new starter who happened to be working that lunchtime and who is proving mmmm..  a bit challenging to say the least.If there's one key quality you need in hospitality its speed and the ability to be able to crank up a gear when things hot up.This particular individual is well..um..a bit SLOW....In fact if he was any slower he'd be starting work last week.The usually tolerant  (!) kitchen chaps are becoming increasingly impatient ,with Chef pointing out politely ('he needs a boot up the arse') that if he didn't get a move on the food would be cold by the time he got it out to the table.It's difficult enough to find staff these days(God knows what's gong to happen to the hospitality industry once the drawbridge to good 'ole England is drawn up) so I'm perservering and doing my best to chivvy him on whilst picking up the bulk of the workload when he's in. Friday lunchtime I'd been up and down the kitchen steps like a whore's knickers before spurred on in no small part by the unpleasant and fairly painful chafing on my left inside knickerline(I'm wondering if this is related to joggers nipple-more on that later,or maybe even a distant cuz of the notorious Chefs Ass), I finally cracked and told him he needed a rocket up his backside.
a swift boot up the backside

I blame the parents.
I've watched him wipe down a table and its obvious he has never handled a cleaning cloth before.Or a cloth of any description.He wipes in straight lines with the cloth held in his fingertips,handy on the ass wiping front but no good on a table to be honest...I've demonstrated an efficient wiping action several times but he still hasn't mastered it.Worse than the previous employee who'd reached the grand old age of 21, never having changed a lightbulb before.He asked me to show him.
Which elicited the question:
'What do you do if the light goes out on your bedside table?'
'Mum changes it for me'
How depressing.
If we're to believe the results of the referendum the more senior generation are also to blame for the result.Whilst scrawling their wobbly crosses on the voting card and muttering 'Britain doesn't feel like Britain any more' they've taken us straight back to 1974.
Though this may say more about the turn out in the older generation and the lack of in the younger.
Who knows.
Anyway,I was disappointed in the senior generation for the second time that day when an elderly chap who was intent on waylaying me in small talk when I was desperately trying to get on, became enamoured with the look of his particularly attractive looking pudding and invited me to 'sit on his knee and share it with him'.
I kid you not.
This was a thought beyond horrific and to which I had no response other than a rictus grin to rival his own.
I have no idea who this woman is, but she bears an uncanny resemblance to my own expression.

I have standards y'know.
To add insult to injury it transpired they were celebrating 'Independence Day'.
Thankfully, I was diverted by the sight of The Snail in my peripheral vision loading several water glasses onto a tray in slow motion,by the time Table 5 finally had their water delivered they'd have  thirsts akin to a dying man crawling out of the desert.
I steered well clear of the table after that,having decided that they would benefit far more from The Snail's attention than my own.
Though its fair to say I did glean slight comfort from my regular visits to the coffee machine,sited conveniently directly next to their table and the especially vigorous dispelling of the coffee solids in the knock out drawer, having the effect of them flinching like they'd been shot by a sniper and fumbling to adjust the hearing aids.The fact that they'd reached the advanced age they had without being shot by an actual sniper was indeed a mystery and quite an astonishing achievement.
Sigh.
Just then the next booking arrived,a table of two celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary.I knew this because they'd pointed it out when making the booking.Which is always a bit awks as you're not sure what they expect you to do.A quick song and dance,some flowers perhaps? Or just a congratulatory handshake?Anyway the woman was not looking like the last 30 years had been filled with joy so I erred on the side of caution and didn't mention it.
She had a face like a poker.
Are you like me and wondering how someone can have a face like a poker?I actually googled this (thats how sad I am) and  discovered it's actually a reference to someone that's playing poker and not displaying any emotion therefore presumably being a decent player,not in fact someone with a face that resembles a thin iron rod designed to prod a fire.So there you go,you learn something new every day.
You can thank me later.
You'd be surprised how many people turn up for meals looking like they've spent the last 30 years in purgatory.Me? I can't understand why anyone being taken out for a meal wouldn't be happy.
Obviously relative to the choice of dining venue,present company excluded of course, but date night at the local Toby Carvery certainly wouldn't blow my skirt up.
Anyway,after showing them to the table and pointing out the menus there was still no sign of her cracking a smile.
'They've  had a row in the car..' said Sunday Girl,through gritted teeth,without making eye contact.
'No..it's the dress,it looks like something that was picked up off the road after the Meadowwell Riots,and he's told her so..'
We're skilled ventriloquists..
Two minutes later she was up and heading over towards me.
'Do you have a printed menu? I can't read that one'
Still no smile nor even any indication of any facial expression.
Might be Botox,I thought briefly..
This seems to be a constant issue,no not the botox, the menu..why is it such an effort to stand in front of a board for a couple of minutes and read it?Lately we've even had people leave because they can't have a printed sheet of paper in front of them.
Rather than going through the old routine about buying small amounts and therefore the menu changing daily etc I'm now just telling people its more environmentally friendly not to print off sheets of paper.
Which seems to shut most of them up.
Someone told me the other day it wasn't politically correct to call it a blackboard anymore.I wondered what I should call it.
Chef says its a chalkboard.Which it is.But its also black otherwise you wouldn't be able to see the chalk.
Which is also a bone of contention with the recent criticism over the legibility of *someone's* handwriting and the ensuing problems this causes.A few weeks ago we had some lovely langoustines on the menu and having purchased a fair old quantity and with the price tag being fairly robust,and wanting to ensure we shifted the whole lot before the blighters went off and chefs weekly GP flew straight out of the window,we decided to cover all bases and gave a couple of options over the serving style.Keeping in mind the budget we even included an option of how many one could purchase.
That's called being accessible..
Over complicating the choice for the diner is always a dangerous course of action which inevitably results in chaos.Anyway this day a couple were loitering in front of the board for ages making the place look untidy when the woman eventually called me over.
'What does all this mean? what are the numbers???
I could see she was looking at the specials board with the prawns described  in every conceivable variation and quantity known to man.
'Ah that's how many and the price for each quantity,they're really fresh all the way from Skye yesterday'
I beamed encouragingly, pleased at the thought of offloading a few more.
She frowned and continued staring at the board.
'But what has COD got to do with it???'
I glanced up at the board with a glazed expression wondering what the fuck she was looking at,feeling a bit inadequate that maybe I hadn't read the board that particular morning and that someone else had faked my handwriting with an alteration that I didn't know about and looking like a right dick in front of the customer when suddenly realisation dawned.
'Oh no that's not COD its COLD..you can have them hot or cold...'

Next day the menu read:-

'SKYE PRAWNS- SMALL or LARGE..'

I digress.
Lately I've been suggesting people take a quick photo of the board on their mobile phone then they can sit at leisure at the table and peruse the menu.
Talking of phones I was eavesdropping a particularly amusing conversation today,an elderly lady was telling her family that she'd lost all the contacts off her mobile,the daughter was reassuringly telling her not to worry that she might be able to retrieve them when the mother replied 'no I've thrown it in the bin now.'
You should have seen their faces..
But Mum how will you get in touch with all your friends ??
Oh its ok,I've got their addresses I'm going to write to them all and ask for their numbers.
Yes,the older generation do sometimes struggle to get to grips with the modern world...
Anyway I suggested Poker face took a picture of the blackboard and was surprised by her response.
'I DON'T HAVE A MOBILE PHONE..'
Two minutes later she was out of her seat again and TAKING A PHOTOGRAPH OF THE BOARD with a device which looked remarkably like a mobile phone...
Jesus Christ.
I approached the table to take the order with a little trepidation but the husband of thirty years was a jovial sort of bloke,friendly even and proceeded to order for both of them whilst she sat with an expressionless face fixed straight ahead.I always find that scenario really weird,when people speak for other people on the table as thought they can't speak for themselves which she clearly could as witnessed earlier..It transpired Poker face was having a celebratory steak.I enquired politely how she'd like it cooked,making a point of looking straight at her but the husband again answered for her.
Sigh.
When I returned with the steak knife,and having narrowly avoided *accidentally* stabbing her in the back as it slipped down the chair,the husband made further conversation:
'The last time I came here I had hare'
I took this as an indication of having enjoyed his previous visit and having returned to enjoy more of the same,maybe a suggestion of slight disappointment that this particular delicacy wasn't available that day.
'Oh I'm really sorry we do occasionally have hare on the menu but its not something that we have very often'
He looked a bit confused,but I continued babbling on about jugged hare, then the game season and all the other lovely delights we have on the menu come autumn.Reader,I was convinced I had him eating out of my hand.
Finally the wife raised her hand.
'He means the last time we came here he had HAIR ON HIS HEAD...it was thirty years ago..'
At this precise moment I had a mental vision of myself bent over head in hands,Basil Fawlty style.
I could just see Sunday Girl in my line of vision practically pissing her pants before bounding down the kitchen steps to spread the word,whilst Poker Face didn't just crack a smile she was practically in hysterics.
You see we do aim to please..

In other news I've taken up running,a term I confess I use in the loosest possible sense, since at my current pace Im referring to it as chugging which is a slightly slower speed than jogging but not as slow as a brisk walk, a bit in the the 'slow and steady wins the day' genre.
Having paid a visit to the Northern runners favourite shop and having done a couple of test runs up and down the legendary corridor out back,I've kitted myself out with a particularly bouncy pair of running shoes designed to delay the inevitable double hip and knee replacements for a couple of years,which is of some comfort to Chef my Day Carer.
To be honest,I haven't run since my school days though it has to be said with some success  having triumphed at the weekly cross country on numerous occasions.To be exact I was assured a win every other week since armed with considerable local knowledge myself and a friend would sprint off at the start then once out of sight take a short cut through the local Dene,enjoy a leisurely morning stroll through the trees before emerging ahead of the pack and sprinting through to the finish,having barely worked up a sweat.
Why did I not win every week I hear you ask?
Well Reader,give me credit..I have at least some semblance of fair play and good sportsmanship..
We took turns each at the winning position.
The whole episode did however end rather badly with the sorry debacle at the County Cross Country championships when the pair of us were unfortunately stricken with an unexplained and highly debilitating bug and unable to compete.
Which was a huge disappointment to all concerned.
It's fair to say I'm becoming a bit obsessive with regard to this new found activity,which actually has more to do with the fear of being picked up by the GNR sweeper bus (read that link,I'm having nightmares about being certified a pedestrian)than a desire to break any records.
'You need to concentrate on endurance Mum,not speed'
Good advice I thought whilst fleetingly wondering if I could pick up some tips from The Snail in this this respect.
In truth,I also need to shift a few pounds,having googled tips on achieving ones running goals the main being 'get lean'.But I'm currently carrying at least three extra bags (ok four) of sugar around on my back which has to slow you down a bit.
But the more I think about it the more chocolate I seem to consume.
It doesn't help that Sunday Girl who doesn't just work Sundays but actually works most days now keeps telling me I deserve it..
Every day..
Chef keeps eyeing me suspiciously,with the following conversation played out daily.
'WHAT???"
'Nothing..'
Then finally following this week's particularly stressful turn of events:
'You're not going to do a Forrest Gump on me are you?'
Now there's a thought.
My role model


Monday, 28 March 2016

NORMAL SERVICE IS RESUMED

I'd kind of decided to bury the blogging hatchet partly because it seemed I was going over the same old ground all the time and secondly because certain regular players in this farce had suffered a dreadful personal tragedy which made me feel uncharacteristically guilty that I'd plastered their reputations all over the interweb for the entertainment and delectation of mortal strangers unbeknownst to themselves.
The unexpected upshot of this unfortunate turn of events was a disconcerting mellowing of the players in question to the point where I (oh fool that I am) even considered deleting the incriminating posts.The general consensus was that fate had dealt them such a blow that their petty complaints had been mightily knocked into the outer reaches of the atmosphere of insignificance.As witnessed by the penultimate visit when one of the pair of them found a foreign object in their cheese sarnie which looked like a flaming shard of beef bone from the stock pot.Under normal circumstances this would have been an incident equal to the profundity and enormity of Paradise Lost.With our new found mutual love and affection I naturally knocked the price of the sarnie from the bill and was grovelling profusely almost to the point of embarrassment,but no, she insisted on paying 'really its no problem at all' whilst beaming an almost heavenly countenance of serenity.
How the fuck a piece of beef bone can get into a cheese(sliced not grated-they haven't changed THAT much)is anyones guess.Foreign objects in food isn't what I'd call a regular occurrence,but in a busy kitchen(or even a quiet one-lets not be prejudice) on the odd occasion something CAN and will slip through the net.And as luck will have it,its ALWAYS in the meals of the people for whom its going to be a major and deal breaking catastrophe.Over the years Ive seen all sorts of things turn up on peoples plates,from food wrap to once, (cough) a slug: 'its ok madam its organic..' -a gratis bottle of pinot sorted that one out,(to be honest there's not that much that a gratis bottle of cheap plonk won't sort out),to the dreaded HAIR.
A hair in the food is the behemoth of foreign objects in peoples dinners.
Especially if its a CURLY one.
God help you if that ever happens.
The only way around this problem is to employ hirsutely challenged chefs which up until very lately was a directive which coincidentally we'd managed for the most part to achieve. 'oh no madam,that can't be from our kitchen.. our chefs are all bald'..
*beam*
I KID YOU NOT.
Do not,I repeat DO NOT underestimate the value of a bald chef.He is invaluable for bringing out front for display purposes to apologise for the rogue hair in your dinner in his fully polished glory.Its a sure fire way to take the wind out of the sails of even the most antagonistic of complainers.
I would even go so far as to suggest that if you don't have a bald chef you might be well advised to recruit one, or at least encourage an existing one to shave their head,just for emergencies.
I digress,this bit of bone was VICIOUS looking and big enough that I could still detect a bit of none marrow in the centre, and could have done untold damage had it lodged into the tonsils of the unfortunate recipient so I was breathing a HUGE sigh of relief that she hadn't kicked up a massive stink.
The ensuing kitchen investigation failed to establish how such an item could have made its way into the sarnie and ultimately resulted in the conclusion that 'it must have come out of the bread'.How a beef bone would be in a loaf of bread is also a mystery but in the absence of further evidence it's always a good call to deflect any blame.There is of course also the issue of foreign objects being planted in meals by the diners themselves which believe it or not does actually happen on the odd occasion.Though in this instance it being of no benefit to the consumer (she refused the freebie) it was deemed not to be the case.

Due to the above we were all becoming comfortably complacent about Saturday mornings and no longer anticipated the entrance of these two individuals with dread,in short the sight of them no longer sucked the very life force from us.
In fact we were beginning to think we quite liked them..

However,I now pronounce this golden age of mutual love and affection as OFFICIALLY over..last Saturday they were back on form and firing full throttle on all cylinders..

They'd had a short break 'a la mer du sud' which had obviously revived their spirits no end.Seated as usual on the small bar tables(round not square-duly noted on the order in case chef fell at the first hurdle and served the stuff on a square plate) and had brought along a couple of photo albums of their holibobs to show the other VERY nice Saturday morning regulars.
I must say I was strangely drawn to the photo albums(does anyone else still do these?)and wondering how they fared in a foreign land where everything is ...um ..foreign...
Anyway,they ordered a crab bisque and a veggie sarnie which was a bit of a surprise and not their usual type of choice which I put down to their recent exotic foray.But hey, at least they'd upgraded from the usual sliced not grated cheese.
When the food arrived and with space on the table being at a premium due in no small part to the very hefty photo albums on display it was a bit tricky disembarking the various assorted plates carrying both soups and bread etc.I flinched as I walked away having managed with great difficulty to squeeze everything on to the table as I overheard them laughing sarcastically and make some not very funny quip about the tables being far too small for the type of food we were serving.
A bit later I noticed one of them get up and pile three logs on the fire.
This really gets my goat.
I have a well known one log rule.
There is nothing as attractive as an open fire especially to someone who doesn't have one of their own at home.They especially like to poke it and feed it relentlessly whilst I watch my hard earned cash blazing ferociously up the chimney.
These people are usually the sorts that order a lime and soda and sit with it for an hour.
To add insult too injury he then started off on one of his most favourite rants about how our fire 'doesn't throw off any heat' and how his fire at home is far superior due in no small part to the fact that he throws fucking trees on it every five minutes no doubt.
Which brings me to the  thing that gets me the most.. the ones who throw three logs on the fire then immediately exit the front door.
Bastards.
Presently I heard my name called.
'Biff,come and have a look at this'
I must have been wrong.. things were ok...they were wanting to engage with me over their holiday snaps.I headed over feigning interest.
The album was open at a page showing them seated at an alfresco table by the sea.The usual straw parasol overhead.I would go so far as to say they looked happy on the photo.
I smiled.
'Look at that bowl Biff,thats what you call a bowl of soup' *sarcastic laughter*
The 'bowl' of soup was a huge tureen more akin to a cauldron with a ladle in it.The pot was big enough to feed a family of five Billy Bunters who'd been dieting for a week.Next to the cauldron was a lone bowl..with Mr sat next to it beaming at the camera, a swarthy looking waiter only just in the frame, also beaming.
'That was for one Biff..ONE!!,thats what you call a bowl of soup..'
I squinted at the photo and wondered if the oversized bowl was merely an optical illusion,much like the massive jazz hands photos you often end up with when you take them on a mobile phone.
'Was it bouillabaisse ?' I asked with half interest.
This was met with an awkward silence and some rapid side to side eye movement..
Followed by:
'It was a fish soup'
I smirked.
It appeared that in addition to little grasp of the French language they also had very limited culinary knowledge..
There was no way that bloody pot was meant for one,no wonder the bloody waiter was grinning from ear to ear.
As I walked away,I admit, feeling ever so slightly smug about whole exchange, and comforted in the knowledge that  the landlord/customer balance of one upmanship was again weighted most definitely in the favour of the former.
Just as I was almost out of earshot I overheard the very nice Saturday morning regulars enquire how the Crab bisque was.
'Oh it was ok..it was nothing special..'
Nothing special crab bisque


NORMAL SERVICE IS RESUMED..

PS.I have enough material to keep me going for the foreseeable future ...








Sunday, 13 December 2015

Sprout fest-a Christmas Rant


I managed to get myself into a long and protracted conversation argument this week with a complainer.
Christmas parties seem to be a bit of a thing of the past(mainly lack of corporate budgets)but fear not we still get our fair share of large groups out for a bit of a festive knees up.Usually friends or work colleagues who've decided to stump up the cash and pay for their own festive bash.
In keeping with the season we've had sprouts on the menu.
Sprouts seem to be one of those things that can inspire abject love or vehement hatred with no middle ground.Personally I'm in the positive camp.I encountered both camps the other night.
Early doors I was taking an order from a couple of Texans on a historical tour of Northumberland   their main object of desire being Hadrian's Wall. 'gee every thing's sooo cute'
I was in a bit of a hurry due to further tables arriving and wanting to get all orders in to the kitchen prior to the big party arriving.
Despite the blazing fire they were wrapped up as if a visit to the North Pole was on the cards.
'Are you ready to order?' (politely)
'Well ma'am I have a little question'
'Fire away' (ho ho)
'Well I'm interested in the hake dish but ma'am i see it comes with sprouts,now let me tell you that sprouts could be a deal breaker, yes ma'am sprouts don't do it for me...At all..'
There then followed a detailed account of a meal he'd eaten three years ago at a pub in the Cotswolds and how he'd tried sprouts as he'd never had them before and how they'd had a strange and unwelcome effect on him and how he didn't want to repeat that experience again.
No Ma'am.
I've abbreviated here but the story went on for at least ten minutes during which time he hardly came up for air and there was NO opportunity to interrupt and cut him short.
By the end of it I was having difficulty concentrating on what he was saying due to the mental list of all the other jobs that I had neatly lined up in my mind and increasing by the minute.
Its worth pointing out at this stage that we all have our own rock collection but before you get yours out and show it to someone its probably a good idea to check first of all that they want to see it...
Finally a chance presented itself and I jumped in quickly
'We can do the hake without the sprouts for you if you like'
Thank God we got that one sorted.
The sprout issue raised its head again at the next table I cleared.
As I enquired to the enjoyment of the meal a lady on a table of six who happened also to have the hake dish responded in the affirmative but with the comment that the dish would be vastly improved with the addition of sprouts.I looked a bit confused as the dish was in fact served with sprouts as advertised ( albeit creamed sprouts) so I alluded to this and was told that delicious though it was,a couple of additional WHOLE sprouts would have lifted the dish even more.
As I gathered up the last of the plates and was having a bit of banter but not really listening with any great interest the sprout lover dropped the bombshell that she'd eaten 82 sprouts last Christmas.
I laughed and replied 'Oh over the course of Christmas week?'
'No all on Christmas Day..'
This momentarily stopped me in my tracks.I had no relevant response.Im not sure if it was more extraordinary that she'd eaten such a vast quantity of sprouts and had survived or that she'd actually counted them.
I had no other comeback than a feeble
'82?'
'Yes I had 16 guests for dinner and had catered sprouts for all and as it happened none of them liked them so we had a bit of a laugh about what if sprouts were currency and I ended up trading all my other veg for sprouts.'
Bloody Hell.
I wasn't sure if it was a wind up(see what I did there?) but her husband was sitting with raised eyebrows and confirmed the whole story to be true.
I avoided the obvious question about side effects but on recounting the episode later to the kitchen Chef was quick to quip 'remind me to steer well clear of their house next Christmas Day I don't want to get caught in the fall out'
Farts are funny, but farts can also in fact be fatal,which of course led on to the story of the man who was done for manslaughter after inadvertently bumping off his wife in a Dutch Oven. Apparently he'd cooked and eaten a cauliflower curry before retiring to bed and when the inevitable happened and he pulled the covers over his wife's head(for a laugh) she was killed instantly in the fug. Ironically being an ex nurse with medical training she had been the perpetrator of her own downfall as had made the bed up hospital style and it had formed an air tight cover.
This story has done the rounds of the kitchen so many times I have no idea if any part of it is rooted in truth.It is always received with great mirth.Every time.
There is no doubt about it there's nowt as funny as a fart.

The raucous laughter emanating from the kitchen was drowned out by the arrival of the large group. The trouble with large groups is that they always contain one or two for whom going out to eat is  a once a year occasion so they're not used to it,don't particularly enjoy it and as a result often end up behaving badly.
I recognised a few of them as regular diners so wasn't anticipating any problems.The meal passed off uneventfully,plates were cleared and plenty of drinks consumed so when a certain individual waved me over I made a quick inuitive grab for a check pad before heading in her direction,foolishly thinking they all wanted a top up.
How wrong I was.
The rest of the party were chatting loudly..enjoying themselves.She began to speak but couldn't make herself heard over the din so gestured me over to the bar.
'I just wanted to tell you that my meal was very dry,very dry indeed'
Now at this stage in the game its pretty pointless bringing up the deficiencies in an already cleared meal especially when puddings have already been served.
Unless you're wanting a reduction.
'Oh I'm really sorry about that,I wish you had mentioned earlier then I could have given you an alternative'
Stock answer.
*Beam*
'Yes it was very, very dry indeed.As if it had been sitting around on the bench all day waiting for us to arrive'
Erm not getting away with that Missus.
'Well, Im very sorry you didn't enjoy it but I can assure you that everything is cooked to order,your meal was plated up in front of me just prior to it being served'
*Further beam*
'Well that meal was very, very dry'
(Yes I get the picture the meal was dry.)
'In fact it was so dry the plate was 'rimmed' at the edge '
Eh? What does rimmed mean?
'Im really sorry you didn't enjoy it but it was all freshly cooked,if i'd known at the time I could have exchanged the meal or brought more sauce for you'
'And the sprouts were like bullets..'
Good God,she likes soggy sprouts.
A sniper firing sprout bullets was a sudden and wildly appealing mental picture especially if he was a good enough shot to take this particular individual out..
I apologised again hoping the conversation had now reached a close.
'Yes that meal was very very dry indeed,when I cook it at home...'
This is the phrase which always pushes me over the edge,and the one which always solicits this response from chef :
'Well if they want it the way they cook it a home why don't they effing stay at home and cook it themselves'
Instead I conceded defeat,I could see a backlog of drinks orders out of the corner of my eye so I decided to cut my losses the conversation was going absolutely nowhere:
'Ill take your meal off the bill for you'

At this point bearing in mind all the extra grief one encounters over the Christmas period lets just take time out to appreciate fully this generous gratuity left by a table x 6 


So that was that for the rest of the evening until they did that other hugely frustrating thing thats normally restricted to walking groups only.
THEY ALL WANTED TO PAY INDIVIDUALLY.
This is annoying on several fronts.
1.Invariably they form a queue which is unpleasant for other diners as it snakes past their tables
2.It takes one member of staff out of the team and clogs them up at the till for ages whilst each person hunts around for the correct money
3.It uses up all your precious change
4.Nobody tips
Lastly and most importantly:
5.There are always items outstanding at the end which nobody claims to have consumed nor want to pay for which always causes a rumpus and leaves a sour taste in the mouths of all parties.

Anyway,I'd taken the trouble to point out the aforementioned complainant with all members of staff as the last thing I wanted was a further heated exchange after I'd promised her a freebie.I was within earshot at the coffee machine as she approached the till to pay.As directed she was informed that her meal was complimentary so only pudding and drinks to pay for.
I have no idea of the motivation in her reaction..maybe because her friends had overheard she wasn't being charged.. who knows.
She steamed over to me minding my own business at the coffee machine and demanded to pay....repeatedly.
'I didn't want a free meal I was only pointing out that the meal was dry to HELP YOU in case you served it someone else'
She made the complaint to HELP ME.This is a new one.
'Look as I said earlier I'm sorry you didn't enjoy it and thats why Ive given you your meal free of charge'
'But I didn't want it free..I wanted to pay...I was only trying to help you in case you served it to someone else'
WT actual F?
'But we did serve it to someone else,in fact we served it to all of your party,all of whom have eaten it,many have complimented us on how nice it was,but I've taken on board your comments and thats why I've given you yours complimentary'
'But the meal was very, very dry indeed'
Back to square one again.
*Breathe*
'Yes thats why yours is no charge'
Simple language might be the way forward.
'But i want to pay i was only pointing out to you it was very very dry'
Deep breath.
'There is no charge for your meal'
'But thats not fair on everyone else if they have to pay and I don't'
'Yes it is fair because they haven't complained, because they enjoyed it..there is no charge for yours'
I walked away from the till.

But reader,that wasn't the end of it.
After paying the amount required I observed her again heading in my direction.
Please brace yourselves for the next instalment:
'I feel really bad for not paying,can I buy you a drink please?'
Perhaps this is a consideration which should have surely been made earlier in the game..
Reader,do you really think I got where I am today by letting people such as this off the hook with an easy Get out of Gaol Free card?
Erm no...
'Thankyou but no,I don't drink whilst I'm working'
I had to have a quick glance in the shiny stainless steel of the coffee machine which id been furiously polishing just to check my nose was still the same size after that one..


Usual nose size














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Friday, 16 October 2015

The Best Day of My Life

Last Sunday was meant to be the best day of my life.
But you know the best laid plans and all that.. so unusual though it is for me to plan ahead I admit I was a bit gutted when my anticipation of the wondrous day ahead screeched to a grinding halt before I'd even arisen from my pit.
'You know how today was meant to be the best day of your life?' said Chef.
'Yes'
'Well I'd erase that thought quick smart..have you seen how many people are booked in for today??'
Its not normal for Chef to adopt the typical moody chef pose but on this occasion his arms were definitely well and truly folded.
Tightly.
'Its always busy on a Sunday'
'Is there nobody in this joint with half a brain..??'
The melodramatic shake of the head(in slow motion for added gravitas)had me up and dressed in record time and minus my usual Sunday morning poached eggs on toast..
It didn't take much of a shufty at the bookings diary for me to realise that there weren't enough tables never mind chairs, for the amount of diners who were expecting to pile in between 12 and 2.30 for a nice leisurely roast dinner.
I stared at the barely legible list with the usual outrageous and impossibly spelt name combinations which always raise a few titters,then pointlessly rewrote it in the hope that a tidier page(I remember a colleague once telling me to straighten out my desk and his quote 'a tidy desk -a tidy mind')would throw any light on a possible solution.Having conclusively disproved this theory, I spent the next half hour walking around with my sheet of paper trying to allocate tables which clearly didn't collate to the size combinations which were booked.
For the following hour I dragged tables around on my Bill in the hope I could invent a table configuration with enough spaces to fit the  heaving masses in.
When I'd finished it looked like someone had planned the whole thing out on a computer programme to fit the maximum amount of tables in the minimum amount of space.I'd even revisited  a couple of round bar tables which had spent the best part of the summer outside in the garden.
Despite rebooking some of the twelve o clock tables at 1.15pm(SCREAM) I was still three tables short.By 1.30 there was going to be a vast crowd corralled in our very small bar area,make no mistake.
Yee-ha.
I was nearly crying.
At ten past nine the phone rang.
My heart leapt,theres always a few cancellations on  Sunday,, usually people with illnesses (hangovers who can't quite pull themselves around) etc. etc..
'Ah Hello,we have a table for eight booked at 1.15 today..'
(With MASSIVE anticipation) 'yes?..."
'Well I'm really sorry.. but'
Hallelujah,joy.Hurrah...what absolute ecstasy and delight..There is a GOD!!
Then this:
'Im afraid we are NOW TEN -can we increase the table size please?'
Sob.
Now in actual fact I could easily have stuck a place setting on either end of the table but desperate times call for desperate measures and I'm nothing if not able to think on me feet.
(Nonchalantly) 'Let me just check the diary for you..'
Holds phone away from head dramatically(even though there was nobody there to see) and leaving a pause just long enough to make them slightly worried I couldn't fit them in .
I haz the upper hand..
'Well we are very busy today,Im afraid I can't fit you in at the time you are booked but if you would like to bring an extra couple of guests I could slot you in earlier, say at 12, but I'm afraid I would need the table back at 1.30pm?'
Please go for it.
'That would be marvellous yes we'll be there at 12.Thankyou so much'
'No.. Thankyou' (said with no irony whatsoever.)
*click*
Haha.
In one swoop I'd freed up the ridiculously busy middle section of EIGHT guests AND obtained a free table by 1.30.
You know whats thats called?
Winning.
Which of course lightened the load but I was still 2 tables short.I scanned the list again.I recognised one of the names.Someone I knew quite well ,I wondered if it would be rude to ring and ask if they would mind coming slightly later.
I decided to err on the side of caution( I am a coward)  so sent a text asking if they would mind coming half an hour later as we were struggling for tables.Its always best to tell the truth when you've cocked up.People are more sympathetic towards you if you admit you're human..
Two minutes later a text came through with an answer in the affirmative and I was wondering if this might actually turn out to be the best day of my life after all.
Now all I had to do was sit back and wait for the cancellation which must surely come soon..
But none came...
At 11.45 I opened the doors early in the hope that some of the lurkers in the garden would order early and eat up fast.
I ushered the first diners in and showed them to their table.It was a three which I'd squashed into the corner with all three chairs facing the wall.People don't like looking at walls they like to face out into the room so that they can neb other people.
I could see them shuffling about the table as I pointed out the blackboard so we could get things moving.
'Can we sit at that table over there,this ones a bit squashed for us?'
'I'm afraid that table is for four and as you are only three and we are very full today(understatement of the year)I'm afraid thats not possible'
The look on their faces made me think again.
'Let me just check the diary...'
I sidled despondently off to look at the bookings list for the umpteenth time to see if  could find any further inspiration,by this stage I could practically recite the whole thing off by heart.
I had a brainwave.
Beam.
'Well if you would like to sit at that other table i could let you sit there but I'm afraid its booked at 1.30 so I would need the table back then'
Beam.
'We'll take it'
Jesus.
Another table free by 1.30 and a free table for three for emergencies.Things were beginning to look up no end.
By now checks were piling up in the kitchen as all staff had been drilled in not hanging about with the early tables and with every visit I was dropping subtle reminders as I checked orders on:
'Not to put pressure on.. but just to let you know I need that table back in an hour'
Quick exit.
There wasn't much craic going in the kitchen so in the midst of plating up a sweep of multiple tables I was moderately surprised when chef enquired as to what colour knickers I was wearing.
Now you would not believe the conversations that go on in this place but this was high on the scale of unusual,probably surpassing an X Files level of strange.
'Eh?'
'What colour..knickers?'
'Polka dot black and white..'
'Thought so..theres a split in the backside of your jeans'
Which effected a inconvenient five minute absence whilst I rifled the drawer for a pair of navy blue ones.
To add to the pain we happened to have two new members of staff who were working their inaugural Sunday shift, so rather than have them slow us down by having to explain everything I made an executive decision to keep one each with myself and the redhead and just use as an extra pair of hands to take out food,clear plates etc.
At 1.30 there was a fair old crowd in the bar but thankfully people were eating up quick so Id managed to seat both the tables of six which id thought would be a problem.
But Sod was appearing to be enjoying the hospitality Chez Biff that afternoon and was presently watching a table of four which we expected to be well gone by now but were still hanging around the table ordering more flaming coffees whilst the next lot were becoming increasingly fidgety due to there being no space to sit in the bar area whilst they awaited their table.
I bought them a round of drinks which seemed to placate them and had a quick scoot round to see if anyone else was likely to shift soon.
Just then I spotted Newperson1 who had become inadvertently unhitched from Waggontrain Moi on my last trip to the kitchen,heading out to a table of six with a couple of puddings.As he approached the table he turned around with a look of sheer terror,spotted me and mouthed 'what are these?'
I glanced down at the plates and without a word swooped one out of his left hand leaving him the gingerbread (which I hissed in  his ear through gritted teeth and without moving my lips) to deliver to the table.
I returned the plate to the kitchen flinging it and myself(dramatically) back on the bench from whence it had came.
'He tried to pass the fucking garnish for the smoked haddock fishcakes off as a pudding..'
Jesus.
Not a pudding

Just then New person 1 reappeared.
'Listen..Please don't ever take plates out without knowing what they are'
'But it looked like a pudding ....there was orange on it..'
'You've missed the point..You went to a table of six people without knowing what you had in your hands so how on earth were you going to deliver it?We're not in the habit of playing pudding roulette..''
Christ.
I felt a bit bad after that outburst so told him to make sure he stuck with me and he'd be ok.
As I was clearing one of the larger tables of the day, a woman decided to waylay me with small talk.This is another intervention by Sod, people always want you to chat when you're overly busy whereas if you're quiet they can barely give you the time of day,never mind notice your outfit.
'I really like your top,where did you get it'
I had six heavy dinner plates in my hands and eager to speed on with the clearing process may have been unnecessarily short..:
'I've no idea..'
Next visit back she persisted.
'Was it from a local shop? Its lovely..'
'Em no i usually shop on line,not much time off you see..'
'I really would like to know where its from..'
There really was no stopping this one.
'Ill find out for you..'
As I picked up the next plates from the pass I remembered the top.
'Can you have a quick look at the label in my top please?I need to know where its from'
Chef looked bit confused but not as confused as I had with HIS earlier wardrobe query.
'Just do it please Ill explain later..'
With the plates served and the wardrobe query satisfied I began to feel like we were regaining control.
But I'd forgotten about the four who were still sat at the bar.
Seething.
As I headed over there to apologise ANOTHER woman sidetracked me to ask where I'd got my top from..

I'm currently checking Twitadvisor.every day awaiting the backlash of the day to erupt.
But up to now ...zilch.
Which makes me wonder if Sod is still in residence here.


PS.There is a moral to this story.Never wear a nice top on busy days.








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