The parents are back from England!

I have dutifully listened to their holiday anecdotes and am suitably educated re: Stonehenge. They took Sister and I out for lunch today as a thank you (I did the drop-off and pick-up, and Sister watered the plants. What a team.), which was nice, and also timely, given my sudden unexpected descent into bankruptcy. We went to a Ballymena pub/restaurant, which I do not want to name as I am about to make a mockery of it. We shall, therefore, call it The Revolving Factory.

Sister and The Boyfriend wanted the Sunday Roast, but couldn’t see the seperate menu cards they usually have for it. The Boyfriend approached a passing waitress. “Excuse me,” he said politely, “do you still do the Sunday Roast?”. “YES!” she bellowed, as if she was talking to someone on Wellington Street, as opposed to someone standing right beside her. “Err, thanks,” said The Boyfriend, slightly deafened and starting to back away. The waitress was not finished. “YOU CAN HAVE CHICKEN OR BEEF!” she roared. If it had been a cartoon, you would have seen The Boyfriend’s hair blown back and his face contorted in the manner of one who is on a very fast rollercoaster or motorbike.  Full credit to him, he didn’t clap his hands over his ears screaming “My ears! My ears!”, as I might have been tempted to do. Instead, he recovered enough to stutter “Ch-ch-chicken or beef – right – thank you”. “CHICKEN  OR BEEF,” confirmed the waitress, in case he hadn’t heard her. The only way this would have been possible is if he had been (a) stone deaf, (b) at a very loud heavy metal concert and (c) wearing earplugs – all at the same time. The Boyfriend backed away as the waitress smiled in a very business-like manner before marching off. He slunk back to the table, shaken and possibly in pain. “They- they are still doing it,” he informed Sister, weakly. “Chicken or beef.”

We were silent for a while.

 “Well,” remarked Sister. “She was scary.”

Dad went up to order food and drinks at the bar. He came back 2 days later with the drinks, incredulous at the barmaid he’d just encountered. “You’d think there’d be one main requirement when you’re applying to be a barmaid,” he ranted. “Like the ability to pour drinks.” No one disagreed, so he continued. “I asked for a pint of Harp. She said I’ll just get one of the other girls for that. Then I asked for a pint of Guiness. She said I’ll just get one of the other girls. Then I asked for two Diet Cokes, and she disappeared for 10 minutes. When she finally came back, she said Sorry, that was a Diet Coke and a…? Diet Coke, I replied. I mean…. come ON! I’ve half a mind to go up and order a Rob Roy, a Martini and a Screwdriver, just to see what she’ll do.”

Dinner itself was lovely. Sister and I went up to order coffee and desserts. The barman processed the dessert order and disappeared under the bar for some reason. Sister and I hovered uncertainly. A random pint appeared at the other end of the bar. “Is that The Boyfriend’s pint, do you think?” asked Sister dubiously. I looked at the pint. “Where did it come from?” I asked suspiciously. She didn’t know. We were debating whether or not to claim it when we were suddenly distracted by some activity around the coffee machine. Three of the barstaff were crowded around it, looking at it with expressions of bewilderment, in the manner of a group of OAPs staring at an iPod. I groaned, regretting ordering a coffee. Sister looked worried. “It’s OK for you,” she said sadly. “How wrong can a black coffee go?” I felt for her, as I recalled her ordering a cappucino.

In the end, we grabbed the pint and legged it. We returned 10 minutes later in search of our coffee, to find one waitress staring blankly at the two cups and another turning in circles behind the bar. “Milk. Milk. Milk,” they were muttering. They didn’t even notice when we calmly took our coffees and left. We, in turn, did not question why they were searching for milk to put in a cappucino and black coffee.

It was a very odd dining experience. And at the end, my mother gave me a t-shirt.

It says Stonehenge ROCKS.


3 thoughts on “Surreality

  1. You’ve a great way of turning a phrase :)

    I did a tour of Stonehenge and the surrounding bits with an archaeology class once. It was the best trip ever. Those guys what put them rocks there must’ve been total ‘stone’rs!

    I remember stopping to eat in Banbridge once or twice, they were pretty memorable occasions too, though being able to smoke in the pubs far outweighed any inconveniences. What was weird was that even though I didn’t have to, I still wanted to smoke my fag outside!

  2. You know we’ve got the ban now too? I gave up 5 months ago so it’s actually helped me – not having to watch others light up after a meal etc. I think it has become a sort of bonding thing for smokers – standing outside discussing the weather!

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