A man walked into a bar and ordered a pint of bitter, a G&T and a sticky toffee pudding. ‘It’ll be a twenty-minute wait on the food’, said the barman, ‘do you still want it?’. The man said ‘yes’. Pouring the gin, the barman realised he was out of ice and sent his barmaid to fetch more, telling the man he’d have to wait for his drinks too. Meanwhile, a second man had walked into the bar, followed by a third, followed by a woman. The lack of ice having caused the barman to lose his cool, he knew not in which order the customers came. The third man, being drunk but sensible, suggested the lady be served first. The lady ordered fish and chips and two large glasses of pinot grigio. The ice had not yet arrived. ‘Who’s next?’ asked the barman. ‘It must be me’, said the third man, ‘since I just let her go before me’. Faultless logic, no doubt, for the third man. But the second man took exception. ‘I’ve been waiting bloody ages’, he said. Regardless, the third man was served next, during which time the ice arrived. The second man, thinking he was sure to be next, was disappointed to discover that the man, patiently waiting and observing, could now have his original order filled. ‘Still want that sticky toffee pudding?’ asked the barman. ‘Yes please’, said the man. ‘This is getting beyond a joke’, said the second man. The barman apologised, but pointed out that the man had been waiting for his ice. During the distraction, the returning barmaid decided to serve an American man, lately arrived, who couldn’t quite decide what he wanted, but settled on a glass of water. The second man pointed and loudly observed, ‘Well, I know I was before this geezer!’. On another level entirely, the barman and barmaid were in disarray that erroneous orders had inadvertently been transmitted to the kitchen, wherein the chef was preparing food for nobody in particular, causing the twenty-minute delay for sticky toffee puddings. Apparently the computer printouts were unintelligible, and nobody could think of a better way to communicate orders between front of house and rear: all of twenty yards. The barman, by now heavily sweating, concluded the transaction with the man, telling him he was owed £8.50 change, but handing him only £3.50. Turning to the white-knuckled second man to take his order, the barman was interrupted by the man, who informed him that he had been short-changed a fiver. The second man walked around in circles, fuming. The barman did not apologise to the man, but rather slapped the £5 note into the man’s hands and slammed shut the till. Everybody went away to their respective darkened corners and to the waspish beer garden. And the man thought, ‘this is indeed beyond a joke’.
The pub into which the man walked. The pudding was good.
I’ll be in Blighty for the month. I hope to share my thoughts more regularly than of late, old-world irritations permitting.