So last night (Friday) we celebrate the end of my business travel for the year by walking into the village for some wine and tapas at La Vina (a regular haunt).
Lovely chats about life, the universe and everything – catching up on work, family and plans for the coming festivities.
Annie, as usual, does occasionally pop outside for a roll-up and I predictably check my iPhone for social media and email (what’s a boy to do in a busy bar when his date pops out for a ciggie?
There is an email from Hale Grill, confirming the New Year booking I was forced to pay for in advance last Monday.
“Dear Mr Barrow
Thank you for making a dining reservation at The Hale Grill.
We are pleased to confirm your reservation on 31/12/2013 for 2 people at 21:00.
Your table is re-booked at 23:00.”
and then a few more paragraphs asking us to check out the web site, let them know if there any changes, blah, blah.
I, of course, am incensed.
Annie returns and I show her the email with a grand pronouncement that “if they think they are giving our table to someone else at 11 o’clock and shoving us out after 2 hours they can stick their dinner where it fits.”
After all – its her birthday as well.
Said steak house is actually a few doors down Ashley Road from where we are dining.
So the next 20 minutes are spent finishing our excellent wine and irritated me getting angrier and fantasising about a “scene” coming down the tracks.
We walk down the road (Annie tells me I’ll look more outraged if I take off my Quality Plan NI Russian hat before I go in).
I march into the Grill and meet a very nice lady on the front desk.
Showing her the email on my iPhone I ask if it means I will be escorted from my table at said hour, Christmas pudding dribbling down my chin?
“Oh no – that’s rubbish – I don’t know why they say that in the email.
I’ll be on duty on the night and I can confirm that you will be able to sit at your table for as long as you like.”
So – blood pressure back to normal.
But I do ask myself the question “why the devil send the email in the first place?”
Its the second disappointing MOT now in a week – and there will remain that niggling doubt that, on the night, some officious maitre d’ or grovelling waiter will be hurrying me through my £60 a head set menu.
Its not good is it?