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Dreadful Nonsense

"I've read your blog. it's really funny. you should write a column." - Jon Ronson

It seemed like a good idea to join the end of the queue that stood shivering outside the restaurant. It would only, we were assured, take about 5 to 10 minutes to clear, and when I've got a craving for Yasi Yaki Soba there isn't much you can do to talk me out of it. We were handed menus by the lady with the strange haircut who had served us the week before (one side of her head is trimmed to perfection, the other side of it seems to have been completely forgotten and left to run wild, as if both she and her hairdresser had some kind of left-sided blindness that nobody else has since had the heart to address). As we stomped our feet in the cold and perused the menu that we both at this stage know off by heart, I decided as an extra treat I'd go crazy and get the raw salad to start off, since that's guaranteed to arrive before the main dishes.

Five to ten minutes later, as good as their word, we were shown to our section of table, and then left alone again to stare some more at the menu. Five minutes after that another couple from the queue were seated beside us. Five minutes after that, their food arrived and they began to tuck in. We hadn't even managed to place our order yet.

This is the way of our world. I know this is a universal experience, the feeling that you are always the last ones to place your order, always the last people to receive your meal, the last people presented with the bill, the ones unable to get top ups for their drinks or order additional side dishes or risk a dessert. However, you have to believe me when I press upon you that this ALWAYS happens to us.

Although we go to the same places more often than not, we aren't always cursed with the same waiting staff - we get a different server every week. We sit in different places, we arrive at different times, we order different dishes (although always the same drinks) and we have the same low expectations, which are always met. We never get served in a timely manner. Our food is cooked to perfection, and then left to sit steaming on the shelf as the waitressing staff forget to pick it up and deliver it. One memorable evening, He Who Only...'s drink was sitting at the bar beside us for a full ten minutes before the waiter, returning from his fag break, remembered to pick it up (we didn't have the nerve to go over ourselves, not wanting to appear rude).

The best thing of all is when we'd like to get our bill and get out of there - if we thought that getting food was difficult it is as NOTHING compared to trying to get people to take our money. We ask, beg, plead, cry, scream, try singing on occasion, and still nothing works to attract the attention of anyone around us when we'd like to settle our account. This is a major difficulty for me, as I'm a wholeheartedly dishonest person deep down, and I see leaving a restaurant without paying the bill as a challenge to be faced down, whereas it didn't even occur to He Who Only... until I started actually suggesting it in a rather too serious manner. I think he thought initially that I was joking. Thank God he's here to preserve my moral decency.

And in case you were wondering, the side salad came 15 minutes after the main courses had arrived. Having sat on a shelf for half an hour.


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