Saturday, 30 October 2010


When I lived in Brighton with my then husband (this was the last then husband, I have a pending then husband currently - oh, not to mention a then then husband...oh do sit up and concentrate for goodness sake! There's a test at the end.) Anyway, as I was saying, when we (whatever his name was, gets a bit confusing even for me) and our small child (who is still our child, only no longer small) were enjoying the seaside resort as our hometown, we went out to lunch one day on the beach.  

There are, of course, numerous eateries along the promenade, and we treated ourselves to fish and chips at one place, large enough to accommodate diners both inside, and outside at tables situated on the stones.  (Nice also has stones for a beach.  Go figure.)  We queued up for our food, and then, because the sun was shining (Nice also has the odd spell of sun, so come to think of it, I feel vindicated), decided to sit at an al fresco bench table.  Our son, Sam, was about 4 or 5 years old at the time.

We'd asked the person heaping crispy battered fish and steaming fat chips onto our plates for some ketchup, but he charmingly grunted they'd run out of sachets, so we tried to interest Sam in tartare sauce instead.  Well, I am a comedian.

However, once having seated ourselves outside, we noticed large plastic bottles of ketchup on the tables for diners under cover, so I walked into the room, picked one off a table (nobody was eating inside the restaurant), and carried the bottle out to my family.

Instantly a Very Offensive Woman Indeed ran over to our party and snatched away said bottle of ketchup, shouting angrily that THOSE BOTTLES OF KETCHUP WERE FOR CUSTOMERS SITTING INSIDE, and not for the likes of us, sitting OUTSIDE.  I think it's fair to say that our gobs were fairly smacked at this point.  We tried to explain that we had paid full price for the food and not the takeaway price, that it was resting on the establishment's crockery, and that our small son was plainly very upset that there had been no ketchup available.  To no avail.  And so we got up from the table, delivered the untouched fare to the serving counter and asked for - and received - our money back. Needless to say, we never ate there again.  (Technically an impossibility, I know, since we hadn't managed to eat there once.)

The other evening here in Nice I strolled along to one of the many restaurants along the Cours Saleya, home to the famous flower market, to listen to a couple of friends perform jazz for a few hours.    This is a regular gig and I'm there at least once a week, enjoying the music and drinking cheap, but over-priced (if you know what I mean) wine.  In fact, I have recommended the place to many others, publicizing it on a couple of social sites I'm involved with, and have met with friends for 'aperos' there on other nights when there is no live music provided.

The people I was with earlier this week split into various groups, there being not enough space to accommodate us all at a single table. We ordered drinks.  The other tables were swiftly served the usual complimentary snacks, but when our drinks came there were none to be seen.  Nor were we offered any the rest of the evening, even though every other table at the place was enjoying them.  As time progressed the people I was with were getting a little restive - not to mention peckish - so I asked our waitress, when we were ordering our 3rd round of drinks in the 2 hours we had been sitting there, if we could have something to nibble.  She was very curt with us and walked away, nose in the air.

After a while we reminded her, at which point the boss came over with a plate, setting it onto the table with a BANG! spitting an insult at me at the same time, whilst baring his teeth.  I said 'Monsieur!' and he immediately picked up the plate and took it away.  

I got up from the table (we were outside) and followed him into the bar, where I tried to engage him in conversation, but he would have none of it, even after several attempts on my part.  Nor would he let me talk to any member of his staff, whom he ordered to walk away from me whenever I was endeavouring to engage them in conversation.

So I said goodbye to the people I was with, threw some money down onto the table for my (nibble-free) drinks and stormed off.  Later on the waitress told my friends the drinks were on the house, and the next day one of the people at my table returned my money to me.

What does it mean when folk who choose to spend their hard-earned wages in a particular establishment (and there isn't exactly a shortage of places to drink in Nice) are regarded by les patrons as being completely beneath contempt?  

To be investigated further in Part II...


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Please be nice, but not funnier than me. Thanks.