Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Paying the price.

Here we are back in the Northwest of England where we have been having our own bits of interesting weather. Getting back into my routine, I went off the Manchester last Thursday evening for my Portuguese class and came out to find that the weather pattern had changed completely while I was inside. Calm and a bit chilly when I went in had changed to a howling gale three hours later. Manchester’s enormously tall Hilton Tower was whistling nicely, making it sound as though the city was on alert for a nuclear attack. Was blown across the city to catch my bus and then sat in our local bus station waiting for my connection, wondering if the modern glass and metal structure was about to fall down around my ears.

I made it safely to my home bus stop however and then saw the most spectacular bit of weather effects. As I went past the end of local side road a car turn up the road and in its headlights I could see that one of the huge old trees had been blown down, crushing the bonnet of someone’s car in the process. In the relative calm of the following morning I went back for a second look, just to make sure I had not dreamt it. There was even a report on the TV with a local resident suggesting that maybe part of the price we pay for living in what she called a “wooded area” is that sometimes trees do get blown over.

On the subject of cost, I have been known on occasion to complain about the price of eating out in the UK. Well, after reading an article in this morning’s Guardian I realise that I may have to reassess the situation.

The article was not about restaurant prices but about a sting carried out by a young couple in London. It seems that they reserved a table at a rather classy restaurant and happily ate their way through three courses and drank a bottle of pink champagne and another of good wine, a 1997 Bollinger - £285. At some point they asked for their coats so that they could step outside and smoke a cigarette … and never went back, leaving their uneaten dessert on the table and, oh yes, an unpaid bill for £572.74.

Now that really is a rather steep bill for just two people, even taking into account that just over £400 went on booze. Never again can I seriously say that the kind of eating out that we do here is too expensive!

The restaurateurs did say that such a bill is not even terribly excessive for their establishment. Some people regularly spend a good deal more.

The young couple clearly put on a good act; they were describes as looking like “a very genuine, very lovely couple. Their bill was an average spend.” And now the police are examining other such cases in similar restaurants in London. It is quite possible that they do this on a regular basis, trying out different posh nosh venues for free.

The young couple booked the restaurant in the name of Lupin, clearly relating themselves to the French fictional thief Arsène Lupin. Classy thieves, these two!

It was interesting that the restaurant people expressed concern at their lack of consideration for the waiters. One of them commented, “They are forgetting that they are really attacking the waiters, who don’t have an enormous income.”

Now, it would seem to me that if you have a restaurant where a bill of £572.74 is considered “average”, you could maybe afford to pay your waiters a decent wage.

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