Most of you who know me personally I’m sure will agree I’m quite a critical person. I’m hard on myself and others; no one escapes. Whether these criticisms are justified or not is another matter, but at least I know myself. So, when I’m not pulling down my skylight blind and making sneering remarks of gratitude for being able to shut out the world outside, a lot of my time is taken up with scowling and scoffing.
For the past few years I have been in serious relationships, and have been on a lot of couple-dates. Sadly, it seems to be my (or our) luck that these dates form a series of unfortunate events; either the order is wrong, the wait is obnoxious, or the waiter is loudly snorting back excess phlegm on his way to and from the table. (A story not worth going into any more detail about.) And that’s not to mention the FOUR times Cliff Richard’s Congratulations came on once in Frankie & Benny’s, before we even ordered. Lights down, music up. Four times. In fifteen minutes. If you’re reading, employees, you should perhaps limit the birthday thing to one an hour. Just to be humane.
So, being the misery bollocks that I am, I am cordening off a number of places for my Unshopping List, i.e., the list of places I will never waste my time or money again, because life is too short. “Fuck me badly once, shame on you. Fuck me badly twice, shame on me,” as Samantha would say. And here it is, with feelin’:
The Torture Pit
… is what they should call Clifton Moor Frankie & Benny’s. (I assume the chain has similar policies to this branch, but best be fair and only tarnish the offending location.) Enjoying a rare night off together, boyfriend and I took the chance for a Hot Date and ventured into F&B’s next door to work, thinking what-the-hell. It was pretty full, so we were given a buzzer and some menus to wait with at the bar. After fifteen minutes, having got drinks and chosen meals, we were escorted to our table. After a further fifteen minutes of vacant waiting, (I say vacant – this is actually the spot that was occupied by no less than four birthday celebrations, which didn’t even seem to include a cake or something special being brought out, just a dimming of the lights and a horrificly loud reprise of Congratulations. Don’t worry though, it was only the first two lines and then it faded again.) almost succombing to boyfriend’s favourite joke-wish to do a runner, we were finally asked for our food orders. Having given these, we were then told that what I wanted was off. I settled for spag-bol, not a meal I like to eat out because it’s a home recipe as far as I’m concerned, and there’s nothing special or more tasty about it cooked in a restaurant. It arrived luke-warm and very wet, and got taken away and microwaved. I ate about half of it before decency gave way to nausea. We entertained the idea of running away a few more times, and I even snuck out early to ‘have a cigarette’ while boyfriend decided if he had the balls to run too or not. Sadly, they caught him and he paid. We have been back once or twice to another branch, the last time ending up sat opposite people we know, but not very well, stretching boyfriend’s autistic traits to the limits.
HOWEVER. There was a very helpful, efficient, friendly girl at the desk who helped me find exactly what I was looking for, directed me to lots of suitable choices, one of which even had the person I was buying a gift for’s name within the author’s name (I know, right) and one of which was the one book he doesn’t have by a certain author. Despite admitting to going off colleagues’ opinions and being “so Yorkshire” in her pronunciation (her own words), she was very good. She even left me to browse a couple of times and then kept coming back with more recommendations, and more confirmations from her colleagues that were more widely-read in certain areas. I might love her.
The Main Offender
The Graduate. Now, I wasn’t a huge fan of this place when it was Varsity, but I gave it a go. I had a few good pre-drinks in there and even pulled off flirting as a Finnish girl until I got me an impromptu lesson in ceilidh dancing with a Scottish trainee solicitor dressed as a hotter woman than myself. I had cynically limited expectations when I saw that it was changing image, but decided to give it another go. Try everything once. But The Graduate disappoints. Initially, I really enjoyed the food. It was simple, reasonable and tasty enough. The decor was inoffensive, if a bit unimaginative and confused. But then I asked for a half-a-coke, and things got messy. The barmaid gave me a huge glass of coke, at which I challenged, “Sorry,” (as is always more effective, if not particularly true or just), “I asked for a half.” “We don’t do halves,” she said, clearly indicating that she had heard me but had ignored the fact that I didn’t know this and just given me what she felt like. “This is a small,” she continued, pointing at the full pint of coke. In what universe a pint is a small I am unfamiliar, so my acceptance of this notion was probably a bit stunted. “Right.” She then poured me a ‘large’ coke for my boyfriend, and – very mistakenly – put it next to my ‘small’. Now, he took a picture of this on his phone, but I don’t have it to insert here. I trust however, that you are all pretty intelligent, imaginative people, and can picture what I describe as two identical pint glasses of coke. The apparent only difference (I did attempt to clear this up with another waitress, being pretty bemused and wanting some resolve even if only for my peace of mind) was that they charged £1.10 for the small and £1.40 for the large. I think you can understand my feelings at this point. The more attentive waitress who had explained this then brought out our meals – mine being wrong, and plus an add-on that I’d said no to. The barmaid who’d got our drinks had charged me extra for these. Needless to say any more, I think, save that I avoid it like a relationship that turned sour because I was pushing it for too long until I thought, “Well, you clearly don’t love me and don’t even care, I’ll call it a day.”