It has been a while since we Monks had visited Bluewater Shopping Centre and when we do it usually provokes a thought or two that finds these pages, not always positive.
It was Mrs Monk's choice of diner for lunch. She is not one to be impressed by a menu at the door or a sign that asks diners to "Wait here to be seated ". She is more likely to walk right up to the chef's prep area and take a look at the food being prepared for other diners.
It was this that made the "restaurant manager" pay attention to her and approach her. In due course Mrs Monk secured an undertaking that his food was better than any of his competitors.
Having acquired that assurance we were led to a table of the manager's choice, which Mrs Monk would, in accordance with routine, decline to accept. When directed by Mrs Monk, the manager seated us appropriately, and soon thereafter, an overly smily waitress took our order.
At this point the interrogation of the smiley waitress began. Mrs Monk was keen to know about further nuances of the menu. What was Smiley's personal favourite on the menu? This would take a while because the waitress did not really care to say what she actually thought. Further interrogation meant the smile on the smiley waitress began to wilt and she got down on her knees to place herself in a subordinate position. That manoeuvre is apparently determined and prescribed in the How-to-Wait-on-Tables, manual.
At that point Mrs Monk told her that it was her Birthday.
Decisions were made and in due course the food arrived and both Monks were satisfied and moderately impressed by what appeared.
We tucked in, and as we munched Smiley made two nervous visits to ensure that we were satisfied. We reassured her that all was well, but we had already discussed the bread rolls that accompanied the meal and which seemed more “Mother's Pride” than Gourmet.
When the manager arrived we were asked again if all was well and we smiled back politely and showed our appreciation. But then Mrs Monk simply could not fail to let go of the bread rolls issue. The bread rolls sat abandoned and unconsumed on both of our plates.
"They are a bit dry", she said, "Not fresh" she explained.
The manager who may well have written the How-to-Wait-on-Tables, manual, got down on his knees to continue the debate about the bread rolls.
"It is your birthday" he said.
Mrs Monk feigned surprise. "How on earth did you know that?" she said.
"A little bird" he said.
Mrs Monk had already photographed the lunch and emailed it to her sister in Maryland USA.
"I see you have twittered the meal", he assumed and then rewarded her with a free gourmet lunch.
I had to pay for mine.