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.
'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.
'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.
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!!
'Im afraid we are NOW TEN -can we increase the table size please?'
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.)
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?
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.
'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'
'We'll take it'
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'
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.
'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..'
|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..''
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.
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.