'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.
'Well..you'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..


fawcetts_python said…
Long time reader, first time commenter, the fact that you havent lamped any of those punters is a credit to you.

Re unblocking toilets I can tell you from bitter experience that bleach aint that effective, washing up liquid and warm water is the way forward.
m.lawrenson said…
I've no idea why people cause so much trouble when going out (and even getting back home with the advent of T**tadvisor. I blame Watchdog and other assorted consumer programmes for giving people the courage to think that petty grievances are legitimate complaints.
Alison Cross said…
I take my hat off to you and grovel at your feet - for your patience and for the ability to get a lavvy unblocked.

I don't know how you do it - patience and lavvy. I would have, as fawcetts_python said 'lamped' these punters by now.

You could always change the length of time you provide your Sunday service - licensing laws or no :-D

Ali x
Liz said…
I can never understand why its the WOMENS loos that get blocked with poo............ happens in our pub at least once a summer! It's like a horse has been in them!!
Aside from all that - well done for keeping your professional face in place when dealing with your 'lovely' guests!!!

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