Sunday 13 February 2011

Taking turns

I'm not sorry to find that the weather has turned too windy, I think, to do the photographs today.  A lot of those Nadfas returns have come in, and I haven't had time to do anything with them.

Al and Dilly went out for dinner last night, and had a delicious meal, they said, at a local restaurant.  They chatted to the proprietress and heard that, apparently, the satisfaction of a fully-booked dining room had been marred by two last-minute cancellations and a no-show.  Around here, people wouldn't expect to give their card details in advance and have a charge made for not turning up, but you can hardly blame a restaurant.  Al said there were 28 diners, so losing 6 is a big deal on the Saturday nearest Valentine's, when they'd probably turned away people and there was little chance of any last-minute hopefuls.

I remember, years ago, my mother telling me about a friend of hers, who'd had people come and stay for the weekend.  She lived in Beccles, where there were several nice places to eat.  Apparently, she blithely said that she had booked a table at three different places.  When the friends arrived, she asked them where they'd like to eat that night, and phoned and cancelled the other two.  My mother was shocked, and asked if she realised the implications for a business if people did that?  Friend didn't get it.  She was the customer, the consumer ho ho, and it was her choice.  Well yes, said my mother, but you expect a booking to be binding on the restaurant, and they buy their food, turn away other bookings if full, employ their staff for the night, on the basis of the expected number of diners.  Cancelling with a couple of hours notice doesn't give them a chance to repair the damage.  Friend still didn't get it.

Dave had a crack at my grammar in the last post (if I didn't know much about grammar, he'd not do it - don't think he's being pernickety, he's teasing and knows I'll tease right back) but it reminded me of a summer back over twenty years ago.  I think it was the summer holidays when Ro turned five, which meant that Weeza was fifteen and Al was thirteen, though it could have been a year later.  I don't think that the Sage's and my age are relevant, suffice it to say that we were young and lovely.  Anyway.  I had the bright idea that it would be a jolly good thing if everyone took it in turns to do the cooking that summer.

This was the proposal ... well, this was what I told them was going to happen.  Each of us would take it in turns to decide on the menu for the main meal and cook it.  I'd help and advise if necessary and, if told in advance, would do the shopping.

It worked really well, actually.  I can't remember much of what was cooked, but they didn't rely on convenience food.  We went through a fair few things on toast on Ro's days, I think - he did brilliantly well, especially when you consider it was a permanently hot Aga he was working on.  I did supervise him for safety's sake, but he did fine.  I remember him cooking scrambled eggs, and I remember watching anxiously as he chopped carrots.   They all took the task of preparing balanced meals in a sensible manner - but then, we've always eaten well and enjoy good food, so it wasn't surprising.

From my point of view, it wasn't much less work.  I gave a lot of advice and found up quite a few recipes, and had to take on the responsibility of making sure that the fridge and larder were well stocked - especially for the Sage, who didn't plan ahead - but letting go of the decision-making was a treat and it meant that I took care over choosing and cooking on my own days.  We didn't repeat the experiment, not because it wasn't successful but because it was a bit too regimented for our taste, really.  This rota stuff wasn't really our way.


Christopher said...

A new restaurant opened its doors in our village about 7 years ago. The newcomers weren't made welcome by the local competition, probably because a) they were foreigners and b) what they offered was of an excellence never seen before. They used regularly to receive bookings by phone, sometimes amounting to more than half the available places. The 'bookers' would then deliberately not appear, while bona fide clients would be turned away. The newcomers weathered this with determination and a ready - if forced - smile, content to know that quality sells itself, and by now the nuisance has stopped. But it was touch and go for a while, though.

Pat said...

People like your mother's friend are just awful. One hopes that one day they will be in business themselves and learn the hard way. The idea that other people are there to serve one makes my Irish blood boil.

Dave said...

Of course the taking the credit card details policy, and then charging non-attendees, certainly helps - but as you say, people don't expect to have to do that.

Unknown said...

Nor should they in a perfect world (which this one obviously ain't), but I think it's probably the answer,and I can't imagine any bona fide booker objecting to having his card number taken by any honest restarateur (not sure I've spelled that right).

Roses said...

This just doesn't compute. My head can't get around it.

The bloody cheek of it. Booking several tables and then cancelling when you've chosen what you fancy.


luckyzmom said...

Rude. These are people who think they are more important, special, privileged and don't care how their actions affect others. Rude.

Eddie 2-Sox said...

Did they also used to buy tickets for three or four plays at the same time and decide on the night which one to see? Didn't think so.

Z said...

Thank you all. The friend concerned died a long time ago, 12 or 15 years, I suspect that nowadays she'd be blackballed by every restaurant in town.