I recently had the misfortune of a poor review on the dreaded Trip Advisor. As some of you will know it took me many weeks to assure the loons that I am indeed the business owner here at the Plough and therefore entitled to defend my business. For those that use this awful ‘service’ can I point out that I have told them, repeatedly, to remove the details of dining and also the charming review posted in March of this year.
The March review is from a couple who ‘eat here every week’ and are full of praise for the food and the staff. I don’t think that we will hear any more reviews from this couple for a while, given their apparent lack of any sense of direction they are probably still wandering around the island.
The review that bit me was one from a couple who said that they ‘actively sought out local pubs’ before complaining that this was indeed a ‘locals’ pub and they therefore felt unwelcome. I have added a carefully worded response to their comment but it remains a thorny subject for me given that the Plough is not only a very friendly pub but the island itself is incredibly friendly. I can only imagine that this reviewer is used to swingers clubs and was simply upset not to be offered an alternative bed for the night!
Over the last two nights this ‘unfriendly’ establishment has had a regular visitor who is staying on the island for four nights. The gentlemen in question is 69-70 years of age and there is a reason why I can be that accurate. You see, as a locals only type of pub, we speak to our customers and this gentleman has an excellent (and inspiring) back story. Having been the victim of a surprise sixtieth birthday he is spending his seventieth on the island. He has just packed up from London and decamped to Shanklin without telling anyone where he is going so as to avoid a repeat of the last change of decade. I couldn’t put it better than the man himself when he said ‘they are lovely people and it was genuinely nice of them but it is just not for me’.
I brought the guy a pint last night out of respect for such a great story and indeed such a great idea. The other reason, as I explained, was that I can’t shift the idea of a pub somewhere in darkness waiting for David and repeatedly jumping out and shouting “SURPRISE” followed by a muttering of “oh sorry Rob we we thought you were Dave”. Having recounted the story to one of my locals he to purchased a pint for our new found legend and then proceeded to spend an hour or so discussing life with him. This is why I am in this trade and this is what makes the Plough so great, sure we have some challenges still to deal with (and probably always will) but its a great little pub where people enjoy themselves and that will do for me.
Recently it has occurred to me, once again, that not all people on earth are Engineers. I don’t use the term Engineer to reference some educational standard but rather the way of thinking. I know some of you will dismiss this, but I assure you that it’s true, there are genuinely actual people out there who don’t see the world like we do, crazy eh? There are people who don’t get a hidden internal grin when they see a problem, that don’t have that unshakeable confidence that any problem can be beaten.
When the car doesn’t start some people’s first thoughts are how they will complete their journey or who they will call. Of course we all know the correct thing to do is to think through the starter circuit to ascertain where the fault lies. Now it has been said that my mindset may explain why I am single and occasionally have to be physically dragged out of tool stores, maybe it’s true. Perhaps an affinity with the physical world is the corollary of having no such affinity with people, if this is true then it’s by no means a bad deal. Think about it, how many times will the rest of you give up in the face of an mcb that won’t hold, a leak that can’t be seen or a bolt that just won’t undo? I would suggest that physical problems happen way more than emotional success so you have your thing and I will stick with mine.
Next up we have some seaside humour, I guess it’s not unique to the coast but that is where I saw it. First we have the romantic young couple strolling along the promenade. Well we’re heading into winter and the young lady had tired of walking so she playfully clung to her partners neck, doubtless asking to be carried. Our young beau was certainly up for the opportunity to demonstrate his physical prowess but made a poor choice in technique, clearly not an Engineer. Turning his young lady so that she was facing him he bent to his knee and proceeded to throw her over his shoulder, now two words are key here ‘throw’ and ‘over’. The young lady dived perfectly, head first into the pavement I would have given her an eight for style if I had a scorecard and wasn’t more than a little concerned for her wellbeing!
The lad was a legend, first his shoulders raised as his mind told him that he had hidden strength hence couldn’t feel his burden. Then reality slowly dawned on him, accelerated doubtless by the scream of pain, and I swear I watched his plan for a ‘physical’ evening drain through the features of his face. It would look odd if I randomly videoed people outside of my apartment but at times like this I think it would be worth it!
The second story is one of dog walking, a lady and her small dog on the beach in fact. The lady had one of those seemingly obligatory ball on a stick arrangements and the dog seemed reasonably happy to retrieve the ball for her. The problem was that the woman’s aim was far from Olympic standard and inevitably the ball made it into the sea. The dog tracked the ball as far as the water and then clearly concluded that a £1 ball was not worth a dunk in the North Sea in November and left it there. Sadly his companion was not so bright, she ploughed in to retrieve the ball soaking herself in the process. I watched her retrieve the ball from the ocean a further three times with the dog obligingly retrieving the throws that made the beach. It took all of my self-restraint not to head to the beach, take the throwing stick thing and give it to the dog since she seemed to be enjoying retrieving the bloody ball so much. I can just imagine the dog getting home and talking to the cat “I tired her right out fetching that ball, she will sleep well tonight”
The world today is such a minefield, when did this happen? I was advised last night that there is a campaign to stop Tesco’s selling lads magazines because they objectify women, yes they specifically stated Tesco. Of course the debate was led by a couple of bearded dragons that could never have been objectified in their lives, but everyone is entitled to an opinion. The thing that struck me as odd is that a female model showing the latest X station or Playbox game is supposed to objectify women yet the semi naked footballers selling aftershave don’t do the same for men. If you are so worried about the objectification of people then surely it is better to start with a growing market such as semi naked males than an established market such as lads mags? In other words, lead by example. If you want to stop models selling games to pimply lads that rarely leave their bedroom then perhaps the Diet Coke ad needs a makeover?
This morning I was advised that we need to outlaw the airbrushing of models. Again the proponent was a women whose face, in close up, looked as rough as velcro. Of course we airbrush models, it makes them look even better and that is the idea. But what about the fat people? surely they are a reason for more airbrushing not less? The reason that they say that we have to make these changes is to protect the young, let me be clear here, it is not. The removal of all things beautiful is proposed by those that took an extra whack from the ugly stick, they are jealous people who have slunk into power. This is like me proposing that football or dancing is outlawed because, quite simply, I am rubbish at them. Leave the beautiful, or nearly beautiful people alone and go back to telling yourself that its “what’s on the inside that counts”.
As for the argument that you’re protecting the children I have to defer to an eloquent, pimply and overweight superstar from some show about teen virgins last night. When asked about porn he looked at the camera as if it was a 6-year-old and said that thinking porn was real life was like watching a movie and thinking that’s how life was. The lad summed it up rather well, kids are not stupid and if we have to ban good-looking people then we must also ban superman movies to prevent the youth thinking that they can fly. The reason he was a superstar incidentally was nothing to do with what he said but the fact that he deleted his porn stash live on TV and it was 0.97TB, what a collection he must look like a lopsided popeye!
Just to add to the confusion I purchased a packet of Rowntree Pic’n’ mix today. This is a product that has to have been sponsored by dentists, its like russian roulette without the gun! Essentially it is a selection of soft, chewy, teeth friendly sweets with a random sprinkle of a rock hard candy that is equivalent to chewing a pebble. I have no particular axe to grind with hard candy but, as I get older, I like to be notified that they are in the bag. These appear to have been frozen to make them especially hard and then randomly thrown in the bag. Like snipers they appear in the chewy delight and try to shatter rarely preserved porcelain. If you want to protect the young, if you want a campaign start with one to get a bloody warning on those sweets!
Meeting people last night reminded me that we are actually on this planet for a short and insignificant time, whilst our life is most precious to us it means nothing in the greater scheme.
Growing old happens to all of us but I guess the real question is what impression do you want to make on youngsters? What is the memory that you want to have created? what thoughts and recollections do you want to fill the pub after your departure?
– I remember him walking his dog like it was yesterday, he loved that little dog?
– I will miss him sitting on that stool on a Sunday drinking his half a Guinness?
– Silly fella thought he was an old man, he was across that table and in his face without spilling his pint?
The reprobates stories and recollections take longer, as kids we all loved the battle scarred, long haired, tattooed characters even if they never remembered our birthdays! Legends live amongst us, not because they are special or have done great deeds, but because they have faced this world with an arrogance that says ‘you can’t put me down, every disaster is simply a story being made’
We all end up in a coffin, the question is how do you get there? Do you want to be prepared and slipped sedately into the box and have the lid solemnly closed?
Not for me, I want to turn the corner, running fast, crash through the door and charge straight into an upright box causing it to fall over and as the lid slams shut think ‘thank god for that they will never find me now’ now that my friends is resting in peace!