Bless me Fadder.. fur oi haff sinned ...

It's been many a moon since I last saw the inside of the confessional box.
And in all that time I've not once felt the need to honesty I never really saw the point of the whole thing anyway.
Can you imagine being frogmarched off to church on a Saturday night before the dawn of on demand telly when the normal families were settling down to prime time entertainment fixtures such as the Generation Game and Doctor Who??
Yes,I admit this did not exactly fill me with joy.
Not that I NEVER did anything wrong of course,but coming up with a laundry list of weekly sins to confess was a big ask as a tender aged seven year old..especially if you wanted a bit of variation on the penance.
Most weeks I confessed to a lie or two and came away with a couple of Hail Mary's and the odd Our Father.
This became a repeating and ever more boring cycle.
Eventually,the time came when feeling particularly hard done by, I cottoned on to the idea that if I  upped my game a bit I could fabricate a an interesting but not mortal sin, to see if I could illicit a more serious response.
Subsequently,the confessional became a bit of a competition,a badge of honour to see what level of penance I could win.
I validated all of this with the comforting 'in for a penny in for a pound' line of thought and always tagged on at the end 'oh and I told a lie' which clearly cancelled out the preceding more interesting lie which formed the bulk of the weekly confession.
 In what i took for a  'plumping up the cushions' kind of gesture in anticipation of a forthcoming entertaining half hour,the priest would light up a fag when he heard my voice and I would hear the gentle rustling of paper as he discreetly folded up the Football Pink in favour of a more gripping narrative.Often a stray wisp of smoke would sneak in under the purple modesty curtain that he had on his side(only a tarnished square of wire mesh my side) and mesmerisingly snake its way slowly upwards, disintegrating at some point near the yellowing ceiling.
During the lengthy monologues I was never once silenced,only the odd interjection of  'I see' or 'go on..'
I took this as actual encouragement and confirmation that he too was gutted at missing JIM'LL FIX IT....
Some weeks I was on the kneeler for so long my joints would seize up and it was a struggle to achieve a standing position, I would hobble back out to the church pew bent over at right angles like a seventy year old with a seventy a day habit,to recover and race through the penance in record time before the priest emerged.
I can still recall the smell of the box which I referred to at the time as Fag Ash and Foist.
As the months went by the stories became ever more convoluted,culminating in the sorry tale involving the detailed description of the explicit graffiti artfully represented in permanent marker on the interior walls of the girls school toilet block, which was obviously and unjustly blamed on the students from the wrong side of town who were forced during multiple detentions to meticulously scrub off, aided only by a bottle of pine JIFF,a blue roll and some elbow grease and illicited the extraordinary TEN Our Fathers and SIX Hail Mary's.
A high never to be repeated.
Come to think of it the church was always highly ranking in the spoiler stakes of my youth.
Every year the whole family, grandparents included, would jet off to a different Pontin's for the annual holiday,all of which were an extremely lengthy and stressful car journey from us up North.
Always a fraught trip, one particularly memorable incident was the occasion I was denied a twentieth consecutive Barley Sugar Twist so decided in protest to hum a monotone single note incessantly throughout the journey.I kept this up for over two hours,by the end of which all family members including very even tempered grandparents were ready to strangle me.I was reminded of this many times on reaching adulthood which ironically is a miracle I achieved at all.
Anyway, on arrival, instead of availing myself of the exotic pleasures of the leaking wonky paddle boats on the two foot deep murky 'lake',not yet cleared of the discarded detritus of last seasons campers,which always formed the centrepiece attraction of the holiday village,we were all forced back into the car for at least an hours tour of the nearby hinterland with further arguments ensuing when the nominated navigator missed the turn (no satnav in those days).
The epitome of excitement

The purpose? -to seek out and identify the local Catholic church,check out mass times for the following Sunday morning,before we'd even checked into the foisty chalets.
Yes, foist and the church were the recurrent themes of my childhood.
I digress.
Last week I did something which I'm not very proud of and sadly for me I didn't make it up.
There's two main and very simple qualities required if you want to do this job reasonably well:
WORK HARD and BE NICE to people.
Last Monday night I'm ashamed to admit I wasn't very nice to some people.
The saga unfolded the previous Saturday night when during a very busy service Farm Girl took a phone call from a gentleman asking to book for Monday night and also could he could bring his own wine.
Caught on the hop and loaded down with some very heavy plates which annoyingly had mustard smeared over the edge and what with the overspill creeping dangerously close to one's white shirt sleeve and being a tad under pressure to boot, one was not entirely full of patience on being waylaid with such requests.
'No we don't do BYO you know that'
'He's willing to pay up to £20 per bottle corkage' said Farm Girl, eyebrows raised in anticipation fully aware of the rather hard to refuse carrot inadvertently dangled with intent.
Considering its unlikely I would make 20 quid on any bottle of wine in my exciting repertoire,as expected,I relented.
'Make sure you tell him it's not something we normally do,tell him we'll charge him the price of a bottle of house wine (16.95)'
I felt quite charitable having given him a hefty 3.05 discount on the £20 offer,deftly giving me the upper hand..
It's all about control isn't it?
Fast forward to Monday evening and with trade being decent for a dark November night,with plenty of early tables in so there was quite a jolly atmosphere come 8.45 when our BYO booking rolled in.
I sensed immediately they'd had a couple of sharpeners prior to arrival.
One of the party swaggered over to the bar with his cool bag,deposited the contents then turned to the table of six nearest the bar and shouted in a moderately loud voice that quite possible may have been heard through the closed kitchen door and above the din of clattering plates and the extraction fan,by experienced Chefs' having been subjected to many years of background noise resulting in dulled levels of hearing :
Reader, I was FUMING.
One of the party then set out on a photo taking tour of the pub which is not unusual in itself, recording every aspect of daily life for publication is normal behaviour these days isn't it?

Finally seated and plied generously with their own wine I thought Id better approach and extract the order asap what with time pressing ever on and with further bottles of wine to be consumed and it being a Monday night in November and all...
The photographer was having non of it.
What unfolded next was rather unexpected.
The phone was waved in front of my face displaying a photo he'd just taken.
'Whats that?'
Now I'm not going to identify for reasons of confidentiality certain items captured on the photo but lets just say we are a characterful pub,and definitely NOT a posh pub therefore there are items thereabouts that certain persons may find,lets just say,not to their taste.
I identified the item as requested and awaited a response.
Further photos were waved in front of my face along with the same question.
At this point I decided not to play along,pausing briefly I looked him right in the eye and asked him what he meant,he could see exactly what the items were.
'Yes but WHATS IT ALL ABOUT?' came the rather sneering response.
Something snapped.
'Nothing you would understand,we like them but clearly YOU DON'T'
I may have told him rather defensively that we were country hicks up here and he wouldn't understand our ways.
Embarrassing behaviour  

One of the party looked a bit uncomfortable and started to shuffle nervously on his seat which in turn made me a little nervous due to his not insignificant size and you never know when these creaky old chairs are going to give up the ghost..
I thought I'd better change the subject and get the order quick smart.
I was halted by a rather cocky and self assured voice:
'Tell me...are your oysters delivered fresh every morning?"
You know the voice in your head that is normally suppressed silent whilst words of a more diplomatic nature spring forth??Well,on this occasion the inner voice came to the fore asserting its authority in a rather inappropriate and surprisingly rude and sarcastic manner:
'No they've been knocking about in the back of the larder fridge for at least a couple of weeks..'
There was a shocked silence followed by some nervous laughter following which the order materialised rather quickly, including eight rancid oysters for the larger diner.
When I returned to clear the starters,moving everything along as speedily as propriety would allow,and noting the suspect oysters had all pleasingly been eaten,I enquired had they enjoyed them.
'Yes,they were fresh'
 The correct response to this comment of course would be something soothing along the lines of: 'oh lovely I'm really pleased you enjoyed',along with a welcoming beaming smile which expresses more than a thousand words:

thank you for giving us your custom and please come again.

But no.
Reader, the hole digs deeper,far from accepting the proferred olive branch, I used it to practically whip the unfortunate creature into submission:
'I wouldn't have served them otherwise...'
Anyone Fancy a Fawlty Towers night?
I felt a bit guilty but decided to make it up with them by the time the main courses came out,at this point the rest of the tables began to leave and two of our BYO party got up to go outside for a smoke.
As they passed the bar one of them raised his glass,perhaps just a little too close to my face, and in a show of overt sarcasm equalling my own earlier effort, asked if he was allowed (accentuate this word) to take the glass outside.
I replied cooly
'If you wish'.
Due to the mass exodus of other diners(we turn in early in the countryside)things went a bit flat at this point.
I overheard one of them comment disappointedly that he was looking for some BANTZ and all they had for entertainment was the Evil Eyes Landlady..
Handy tip: If you're looking for 'Bantz' on a Monday night in November in a rural pub make sure you book in at 6pm not 9pm,the 9pm slot is a hard sell even on a Saturday non school evening.
However, they consoled themselves in the wine which looked rather expensive ( *made a mental note to keep the bottles and google later) and after the meals were cleared ordered Irish coffees which I made.
Apparently they were correctly made as I overheard a rather condescending 'oh at least she can make a decent Irish coffee'
The alcohol had a pleasing mellowing effect and they seemed to chill out a bit, I could see they were flicking through more pictures on their phones and my heart sank as they called me over,to what I expected would be more condescending comments on my Hillybilly country decor.
The picture that was flashed in my face was of a young gun maybe eighteen or so with a lustrous blonde quiff,reminiscent of A-Ha! in their 80's prime,youthful and slim.

I could see by the fashion it was an old photo of our larger guest in his heyday.
He looked quite proud of himself.
He was looking for feedback of a positive nature.
'What do you think of that?'
'Oh thats nice-is that your son?'
You should have seen his face.
I am Britain's Evilest Woman.

Aa they left,tails between legs, they thanked me for looking after them and gifted me a left over bottle of wine.

Later I felt a bit bad and was wondering what Fred would have done to claw things back..
I sought reassurance from Chef, as they'd spent quite a bit of money and I hadn't really treated them to the best of my hospitality..
'What has the money got to do with it???' said Chef 'You always say it doesn't matter how much money people spend they should all be treated the same'

Which went no way whatsoever in alleviating my guilty conscience.

So what do you reckon?
Isn't respect a two way thing??How would you feel if an invited guest in your home criticised your curtains??


IS the customer always King?

And Finally,

Can I have absolution???

And if so, is it a TEN Our Fathers offence???

*The Vivino'd wine turned out to be 150 smackeroos cost price..


Gigi said…
Yes, you are absolved with no penance needed. Without a doubt respect is a two way street. This guy sounds like he shouldn't be allowed out it public - who cares how much his wine cost, his behavior was reprehensible.
Janie said…
Of course you are right. Thank god you didn’t genuflect when they came in !

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