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Monday, 31 May 2010

Table For One

This steak is a good shade past medium.  It's tough!  Tough as the boots on my feet.  These potatoes are very nice, but why praise the upholstery and the sound system when the engine and gearbox are rusted?  This wine is cold, he should have stood the bottle somewhere warmer.  That's it....

'Waiter!  Hey, waiter!'

People say I don't complain enough; at least that I lack assertion.  I remain boxed and horizontal on the career ladder - this rung is sturdy, if horribly familiar, while the one above is by no means untenable, but is smeared with butter.  The drop to the ground would do me no physical damage, but would hurt my pride much more than I'd ever give credit.  Even so, all I see lined up here are identical ladders, creaking, top-heavy and apparently leading nowhere.

I occupy a table for one in life - near the back, yet facing into the room at least.  I rarely invite a dinner guest and, when I do, it's usually of no concern to me that, by the time we reach the point of coffee and liqueurs, we've decided to split the bill and take separate cabs home.  I don't complain, it's not in the nation's nature, is it? But when did we British begin to bitch and bellyache, at least raising our protestations to something more than a breathy murmur?  When exactly did we start to believe we had earned the 'right to complain'?  The right to tell another honest, hard-working human being to their face that their service, their steak and their unwarmed bottle of wine fail to reach our  artificial and uneducatedly high standards?  Those who do so may gain a material reward in juicier mouthfuls and an ersatz sense of justice, but they take a subliminal and spiritual beating through the travail of those their petty grievance directly affects.  

'I'm sorry Sir, I was attending to the other Gentleman.  What can I help you with?'

Sometimes you have to give thanks that you're sat at the table.  You're neither the overworked waiter, the deluded maître d', the invisible kitchen hand nor the cold, hungry beggar peering in.  While some of us are dining alone, we are dining. 

'Nothing.  That's fine.  That's really quite fine....'

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